Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where IS a woman's place anyway?

I took a class this semester about gender issues.  It was a humanities class I needed to take to fulfill some requirements for my degree.  I read a lot about traditional gender roles and stereotypes and other boring stuff we all already know about and probably rail against.  Men are supposed to work and support their families and women are supposed to stay home and raise the children and take care of the home.  You know the story.

But something occurred to me when I was reading this anti-patriarchal, feminist diatribe of a textbook: the essayists that spoke so vehemently against patriarchy, so vehemently for women's rights to equality, so vehemently about the oppression of women not just here in the US but around the world.  There seemed to be such an angry undertone to some of the things I read.  So much anger about the injustices and unfairness that women face every day.  And while I don't deny that these things exist, I wondered, if a woman chose a traditional gender role as her life's path, what's so wrong with that?  And even more so, if I as a woman do not choose to fight the feminist, egalitarian fight, what's so wrong with that?

Reading this textbook, and applying the words to my life, it would appear that any outlying feminist would approve of what I've done.  I waited a while to have kids, I built myself a solid career, I am in school to further my education, and I'm not letting motherhood stand in my way of anything else I might want.  I am not the only person who handles household chores and duties, as things are quite evenly split with my husband, so on the outside looking in, it would appear that I've fought and quite possibly won that egalitarian fight that all women around the world should be fighting every single day of their lives.

But you know, not so far deep down is a pretty large piece of me that's largely unfulfilled.  Why?  Because I'm not home with my daughter.  Because I have to work to support the house.  Because my husband can't make enough money for me to stay at home and raise my daughter and not miss out on all her early years.  I suppose the economy might have already been heading in that direction anyway, where I'd be forced into the workforce.  But if it wasn't, I would trade my job any day to stay home with my daughter.  At least until she goes to school.  There's a part of me that's almost mad at these damn feminists for fighting that fight for me.  For assuming that ALL women SHOULD either want or have the ability to be equal to men.  Like hey ladies, thanks, now I will either suffer from Mommy Guilt (the guilt a mother feels for having to work) or Contributor Guilt (the guilt a mother feels for staying home with her kids and not financially contributing to the household) for the rest of my life.

I guess you can't please everyone.

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