The "F" Word
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When I was a young, perky college student, one who believed in the potential for good in the world, I believed in a thing called "Feminism." In fact, I was proud to call myself a feminist, even though I was not a die-hard (read bra burning, combat boots wearing woman who was filled with hate for all things male), I did believe that women have systematically gotten a raw deal. When I was in my early twenties, I also believed that I could do something about it by supporting other women who also proudly identified themselves as "feminists."
Now I'm not so sure.
It just seems to me that the current climate involves feminists attacking other women for their personal life choices, ie stay at home mothers vs. Mothers who work outside the home. There seems to be this condescending attitude by feminists aimed at SAHMs because by staying outside of the corporate rat race these women are somehow not living up to their potential. After all, why wouldn't a mother want to "have it all?"
In my experience, staying at home to raise your children is looked upon as a cop out, as not "real" work and I think that much of that stems from a mother's work being unpaid. But just because a SAHM's work isn't figured into the GNP doesn't mean that is isn't work and that she isn't making a contribution to society. Of course, proponents for SAHMs have their own views on the subject - mothers who are at home with their children 24/7 are often elevated to sainthood, while mothers who go outside the home to work are accused of leaving unnecessary emotional scars on their children for selfish, personal reasons.
This is where my problem with feminism comes in . . . Shouldn't feminists be working toward the equality and liberation of ALL women instead of attacking one another for the choices they make?
When I was that young, perky college student I thought feminism was about choice. The idea that as a woman I should have the right to decide what direction my life would go and not be hindered by sexism for any reason. Yet, that's not what I see today. I see two very different viewpoints, in direct opposition with one another, both calling themselves feminist.
While I understand that quite a few sacrifices were made by women that came before us so that we have the opportunities to vote, to work outside the home and receive (almost) equal pay, to change the image of women from a species completely dependent upon male assistance for survival - Weren't those women making all of those sacrifices so that today's women had a choice to make, whether it be paid or unpaid work, and not feel like another lifestyle is being forced on them?
And yet while I write this I realize that I may be adding to the difficulty faced by women in these times. After all, by calling into question the motives and viewpoints of other feminists, aren't I contributing to creating that wedge between the different factions? Aren't I doing the dirty work of those who like to see dissention in the ranks, in so far as it protects their standing in the world?
What's a girl, er woman, to do?