So I’ve been pondering what it is to actually be a feminist, what it really means and what ideals I should be conforming to as a modern day gal. But wait! Conforming?! Why am I considering what I should be doing/behaving like in order to be recognised as a feminist of today…..after all isn’t the idea of feminism all about CHOICE?! I, perhaps naively thought that with the onset of feminism came the ability for us females to do whatever it was we wanted from being able to vote to earning equal pay and generally being respected as equal to males.
But, I am beginning to realise that it’s not all quite so simple and ‘idea’l as that after all. As a young woman starting off in life I have been expected to embrace the equal opportunities feminists before me have fought for and do everything I can to continue to the feminist ‘fight’ and help pave the way for girls younger than me to exceed my achievements…….all good, unless of course those achievements are what hard core feminists consider to be ‘domestic’. When words such as stay at home mum, housewife or homemaker come up in conversation, the sharp intakes of breath from such females are sometimes actually audible!
I am left somewhat confused, after all wasn’t the fight for feminism all about giving us the opportunity to choose how we want to live our lives and enable us to feel our womanly status is worthwhile and, not least, up there with the God like status of men?! Well why does achieving this status have to restricted to the professional arena, why are so called feminists turning their noses up at the prospect of a domestic life and indeed making quite disparaging comments to girls like me who’s strongest desire in life is, and always has been, to be a successful wife and mother and let my career, if I even bother with one, come second to that?
Having had the privilege of some great education and a comfortable up bringing there is always an unspoken sense (well sometimes even spoken!) that I should use this as a springboard to boardroom stardom or some other equally fabulous career but what others perceive as education as a means to pursuing and securing a glittering career, I see more as education as a means to enable me to be a well-rounded person who has the grounding, experience and intelligence to enable me to be a glittering mum!
I don’t see it as a waste of 18 years of learning (as is sometimes implied!) and meeting a whole array of interesting characters and lifelong friends, more I see it as a great opportunity to learn about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and what more, I see it as clear that if after all these experiences I am still focussed on securing a future fulfiling my domestic goddess desires then it really is truly my calling, as it is my best friends calling to be a doctor.
I am not ‘doing down’ any girl who has dreams of a dynamic career, not at all, the world would definitely be a poorer place if men still held all the high powered positions (in fact I cringe at the very thought!) but what I AM saying is housewives should be given a break, and dare I say it, some respect and recognition for what can be a truly demanding job in itself!
In many instances it is the house wife than facilitates their partner to maintain and indeed progress in their high powered job and enables the family unit to exist in harmony. They should by no means be viewed as repressed women under the control of an almighty man, they should be viewed as the powerhouse behind the successful home. They are often up as early, if not earlier than their working partner – the early bird catches not so much the worm but the little bundle of fun ready for their morning milk. They are straight on the job, preparing breakfasts, often a full menu to suit the discerning diners requesting everything from porridge to boiled eggs to freshly brewed coffee.(CHEF!) They are then straight on with preparing packed lunches, washing and dressing themselves and invariably another one or 2 (little) people, (CARER!) they are then a chauffer service to various establishments (schools/trains/office),(TAXI DRIVER) then back to clean up after the morning service, (CLEANER!) then building blocks/colouring time,(NANNY!) then shopping for dinner, then more taxiing, more cooking and feeding, homework (TEACHER!) more undressing and dressing, story reading, crying settling, more dinner, more clearing up then finally….after maybe a good 13 hour day they can switch off and enjoy some down time….if in fact they can stay awake long enough to enjoy it!
Sure, there are perks like a few cups of tea, the odd meeting with a friend, a snatched Facebook stalking session, BUT don’t professional workers get to do all that too?!! I know I did! The only difference is a housewife never gets to leave the office!
The above list is obviously not exhaustive and will not apply to every stay at home mum, but it will pretty much sum up the full lives they have. Obviously it won’t appeal to all women, but equally why should the rat race appeal to every woman? Whereas some of my friends get satisfaction in busting balls and checking their blackberry at every minute, I get mine from wiping snotty noses and spooning home-made dinners into little mouths and making sure my husband can manage his stressful job without having to worry about the smooth running of our home. And I get my reward from seeing my babies grow and thrive every hour of every day and seeing my husband being able to make the most of his downtime with his family, not doing chores.
I do not expect to be a ‘kept woman’, I have worked in the past and will continue to do what is necessary to make sure we keep above the bread line but my job, my vocation and my fulfilment is housewife and mum! Far from being a repressed downtrodden woman, I am an intelligent, confident mother and wife who is as proud of her achievements as any lawyer/doctor/professor can be of theirs.
I think feminists should remember that the fight was so us women could be whatever we want to be, NOT whatever they decided it was appropriate for us to be!