December 08, 2012

The War on Feminism

I read an article yesterday that rubbed me the wrong way.  I am a 21st century woman, in every sense of the phrase.  I work, I have a family, I have pets, I cook and clean and pimp engine parts for offshore generators.    The article that got me was this one.  The woman featured is named Suzanne Venker, she is an avid anti-feminism fighter.  This in itself isn't a bad thing, it's the hypocritical way in which she goes about it that chaps me.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a very low bull shit tolerance, and on this one?  I call BULL SHIT!

Ok, let's take a breakdown of her philosophy.  She believes that a married woman's job is to take care of children and run a home.  She argues that juggling a full time job and children are not natural or good for a woman.  She firmly believes in the "traditional" ideal of women being inferior to men.  A woman's place is in the home, faithful and obedient.  She has made the statement that the media is responsible for making women believe that we "must" work in order to survive, married or unmarried.  She believes we are being fed images that convey marriage to be a negative, confining thing.  These are just some of the ideas that she talks about, these are the few at which I chose to throw my opinion.

There are aspects of this idea that are nice.  I would have loved to spend more time with my daughter, I would like to have more than a few hours a day with her.  My parents have been married for 42 years.  They raised my sister and I in a fairly traditional manner.  Even though my mother worked and my father was forced into early retirement, they maintained the 1950's gender roles that Mrs. Venker is so fond of.  My mother, sister and I did all the domestic tasks that kept the house clean and taken care of.  My father did the supplemental tasks when mom was at work and everything that a man would do to maintain our home and land.  My sister and I were taught the same things, passed on the same values.  Consequently, she is a stay at home mom to three great children and I am a working mother and divorcee, on a new relationship path.

My goals upon high school graduation did not include marriage or children.  I intended to attend college, build a successful business and potentially settle down much later in life (if ever).  This was not due to some media-influenced ideals, as we didn't have but one television and it was completely ruled by my parents.  I never wanted the traditional life, it didn't and still doesn't agree with me.  We need both kinds of people in this world, those who work and those who nurture.  I got married because it was expected of me, we lasted for 11 years and then we couldn't do it anymore.  We did not have a traditional household, I worked as much or more than he did.  We split everything and at some point had domestic role reversals because of our jobs.  

I don't know what kind of gilded cage she has lived in during her life, but it strikes me odd that a woman with such conservative ideas would bother with a college education and all the writing fame when she has young children at home.  If the idea of a working mother is so bad, why did she do it?  She strikes me as someone who lives in an affluent bubble who has never had to actually work for anything in her life.  She comes across as someone who has never had to work to get by or to take care of her husband or family.  I find it insulting that she would look condescendingly on those of us who have taken this road out of true necessity.  Not every woman is blessed with a man with a career and the perfect bank account.  She compares today's lifestyle with that of the 1970's.  She made mention that the homes then were much smaller, that children didn't have access to the gadgets and entertainment items they have today.

Now, I can't speak for other women in the US, but I can say this for my own situation, there was not a choice when I went to work.  We tried for the first year or so to have a one income household, it did not work.  When I became pregnant, it wasn't planned, it was failed birth control.  We didn't have gadgets or high class anything.  We lived in apartments and rent houses, we shared one vehicle for years.  We arranged our work schedules so that someone was home with the baby to save on daycare costs.  Even my current relationship isn't so nicely padded that I might quit my job and stay home and play June Cleaver.  We do own our home, we each have a nice vehicle and some fun things to make time pass.  Do we have a huge home on a prime plot?  No.  We live in a nice, older home in an older neighborhood.  Do we drive new, economical cars?  No.  We drive older, utilitarian vehicles that do what we need.  Do I buy every latest toy and gadget for myself or my child?  No.  She has one game system that was given to her years ago and I have one used laptop and one that is a year old now.  Our television is about 10 years old.

Mrs. Venker's ideas, as nice as they may be, are not fit for every woman.  If she is truly so educated, she would realize that sometimes the notion of feminism isn't a chosen one.  Sometimes it's a necessity.  I am grateful that I was raised to believe that I could do and be anything.  If I had never been told that who knows where I'd have ended up.  I am proud of what I've accomplished and how hard I work.  I am happily unmarried, living in a working home with a man who does not try to rule me or hold me under his thumb.  I do not believe either sex is superior to the other.  I believe we are equal.  Without one you cannot have the other.

I believe Mrs. Venker to be a very blind, closed-minded woman who has been sheltered from the real working world.  All she knows are the two extremes:  either the single mother, or the perfect wife.  I find her life and her work to be in direct opposition with her message.  Why does a stay at home mom need a college degree?  Where there are aspects of her message that I understand, I do not agree with the view.  It's unrealistic and rather insulting to those of us who are holding up our end, doing the best we can with what we've been given.  It's nice pipe dream to believe that anyone can plan their life and it actually go as planned.

Good luck with that Mrs. Venker, sounds like you've got us nontraditional broads all figured out.

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