Monday, August 21, 2006

"The Untouchables": A Feminist View of Moms

Thank you to Fed, an online peer, for sharing an article from Real Love Incorporated on how feminists see stay at home moms. As someone who completed a University education and then chose to stay at home to raise little ones I have been stymied many times by the number of people who are bold enough to say that I "wasted all that money" by not using my degree in the work force but stayed home to nurture my children. This insightful article can be found at Real Love Inc's website.

Stay-at-Home Moms: A Threat to Women Everywhere Women who demean motherhood are buying into the fallacies of the pre-feminist era July 10, 2006 I heard a horrible, horrible woman on the radio the other day. Okay, I probably shouldn’t say she was horrible. Looking at her through the lens of Christian charity, it would probably be more accurate to say that she was “sad.” But she was horribly unpleasant, and her ideas were pretty horrible. I won’t give you her name (which I don’t remember) or the title of her book (which I do remember, but don’t care to promote). Suffice it to say that her general thesis was that wives and mothers need to get “back to work” and stop staying at home with their children. Yes, need to go back to work. I’ve heard plenty of pundits say that women should have the option of going back to work, or even that women would be more fulfilled if they would combine motherhood with an outside career. I don’t always agree with their logic, but at least they’re respecting a woman’s judgment when it comes to her own life. Not this one. She actually says that women who opt to stay home are being “selfish,” setting back the goals of feminism and harming women everywhere. She considers full-time mothering a “low-status job,” a waste of the time and talents of highly educated women. She actually compares mothers to the “untouchables” of India because they “handle human waste.” Nice lady. This sad, angry, distorted woman caught my attention for one simple reason – her ideas represent the core of radical feminism, stripped of all of its various disguise and pretensions. She has the “guts” (if you want to call it that) to say what so many on the extreme edges of feminism are thinking, but won’t admit out loud. At the heart of her argument is the idea that the only real fulfillment in life lies with professional achievement and wealth. (She even goes to far as to say that college women shouldn’t major in the arts. They should study law and business because that’s where the big money is.) Mothering is “low-status” because it’s invisible and it doesn’t pay a lot of money. This idea, as old as modern feminism itself, has always struck me as an example of feminists buying into the very same fallacies that fueled discrimination against women – the idea that it’s “better to be a man.” Radical feminists seem to have bought into this notion hook, line and sinker, adopting the mentality that the only goals worth pursuing are the goals typically pursued by men. It’s a poorly-kept secret that most feminist leaders hold the same views. They’re just shrewd enough to couch it in terms of “choice,” saying that women should have the option to return to work, while they smile condescendingly at those who don’t exercise that option. This woman was a bit of a “one-trick pony” when it came to defending her position. When the host discussed his own highly-educated wife and her decision to stay at home with their children, she called him “childish” for discussing his own wife. When caller after caller shared the fulfillment they find in full-time mothering, she asked the same question. “If it’s so great, why isn’t your husband doing it?” I’d like to answer that question, in a manner that is as blunt and unpretentious as her own style. Men do stay at home sometimes, when the circumstances within the family work out that way. But they are a tiny minority. It is true that, in a vast majority of cases, the role of child-rearing falls upon the mother. And that happens for a very good, very politically incorrect reason. Women are different than men. Not inferior, not lesser – just different. Women’s bodies give birth to babies. Women’s bodies nourish babies. What’s more, research is increasingly showing us that women’s brains and emotional make-up are different from men’s. Studies have demonstrated that, due to structural differences in the brain, women have a much better aptitude for reading a person’s emotions nonverbally, simply by reading facial expressions. John Paul II spoke frequently of the feminine “genius” – a gift which is largely interpersonal in nature. And he pointed out that the gifts of women are beautifully suited to the most important of roles – forming and nurturing the next generation of souls. This idea is horrifying only to those who see the world through the filter of “career fulfillment,” who see no value in any role that doesn’t reward us with money or prestige. Notice that JPII never said that women are suited only to motherhood. In fact, he went out of his way over and over to emphasize that all of society benefits from women’s gifts. The worlds of business, art, politics, government – all are impoverished when deprived of female participation and input. But he also emphasized over and over what millions of women have discovered – that raising, nurturing and loving children is the most important job on earth. Every family is different, and every couple works out the career/child-raising equation in their own way, presumably in a way that balances their financial and personal needs with the best interest of their children. Plenty of women have found ways to have meaningful careers without sacrificing the legitimate and important needs of their kids. But a woman who believes that mothering is inherently unfulfilling and demeaning work is indeed a sad, sad woman.

While I find hearing the words of such people to often be emotionally injurious I welcome their candor. It is preferable to the more subtle messages that women who stay at home are given that their role is somehow less than the contribution of working mothers. I am glad someone is comfortable enough in their own skin to characterize women who stay at home as "selfish" and who compare homemakers to the "untouchables" of the caste system in India. At least that allows Joe public to understand exactly what feminism about - degrading women who make different choices that the ones that feminists endorse.

Those among us who want to philosophically spit upon the life choice to stay home and who perceive mothers who stay at home as half-wits or the untouchables or as having unfulfilling lives are people that I want to grow louder and stronger so that the Canadian public understands that this is a major feature of feminism and a value that they bring forth. Increasingly as these women get louder and find themselves insulting more and more people the Canadian public will realize that the feminist movement does not speak for them.


Blogger SUZANNE said...

Rock on, Hailey!!!

7:03 PM  
Blogger vicki said...

Hailey...the person that gave you this info should have given at least the name of the woman making these statements. In light of what is happenning now with the REAL women campaign to end funding for SWC, this would have proof of how out of touch feminist thinking is. They do not recognise choice.They belittle SAHMs.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Hailey said...

Vicki that is my fault actually...

Here is the link to the full article

6:37 AM  

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