I was reading this fascinating article I Choose My Choice, by Sandra Tsing Loh in the Atlantic Monthly. What's it about? Feminism, Motherhood and Work.
Work in a cubicle, work in the home, work in the grocery store, work on the phone.
Heh heh. I'd like to see the late Dr Seuss write a book about the battle between WOHMs and SAHM (for those not in the know, that's Work Out of Home Moms and Stay At Home Moms.) There would probably be some striped clothes involved, and maybe a few anthropomorphic critters. Martinis with crazy olives, anyone? Aprons with crazy lace?
What are my thoughts on this? Aside from rhyming, I think it is not feminist to tell women that their choices in life are not feminist. Now, we all have moments where we are not as equality minded as we might be. That's because we are imperfect human beings and we have to LIVE our lives, not just theorize them. And maybe not all of our choices are made with the direct thought of being feminists. Maybe furthering the feminist agenda of some folks isn't actually what would make us happy human beings, sometimes. Some people feel more empowered WOH, some people feel more empowered SAH. And some people are just living the ways that fit their lives, it's not really our place to judge.
I do however think that a lot of the backlash towards women who do stay home to raise their kids is often based in pure snobbery, capitalism and materialism. Money is good. Rich is better. Being paid for your labor is better than giving it away out of love. Having stuff is better. Having fancy stuff is better still. Showing your fancy stuff off so people know how rich you are is the bestest of the best.
I made the choice, and make it over and over again, to not focus on the material side of life. I am tempted (always) to want the neato gadgets and have every last opportunity in life, but the direction my life would have to take in order to have those things is not the direction I want to go.
I am a feminist, and I stay at home with my kids. As a feminist, I choose to live small, to reject the materialism, to reject the social pressures that say money is what makes people worth something. As a feminist, I maintain my personal ambitions, which have to do with creativity and spirituality and caring, rather than house hold income and Jimmy Choos. As a feminist, I sometimes feel like an underground guerilla, in both the world of feminism and the wider world of popular materialism, keeping my battle small and based in my small stay at home, write in my blog kind of life.
Sometimes, I look at the rest of the world, and I see the choices that other women have made. They are lovely choices. There is Jen Lemen who made the audacious and loving choice to travel to Africa with her zines and goodwishes. There is Soule Mama who has chosen to fill her world with color and craft and share it with the world. There is Karen Maezen Miller who chose the path of a Zen priest (a Zen priest!) These are only some of my current round of heroes. I celebrate their choices, as I celebrate the choices of many wonderful women (and men) out there in the world. People who take action in their worlds and change them for the better. These are the kind of feminists that I want to fight with, play with and learn from.
I would like to be as bold and sure in my actions. I won't go so far as to say that I wish I was them, because I am me, and I am satisfied with myself and with the challenges I must face. I am on my own feminist, spiritual, artistic, cultural, loving journey, and I am a mom, so I'm bringing my kids with me.
And like Sandra Tsing Loh, I don't clean the floors, either.