Friday, June 13, 2008

I Choose My Choice, too

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.


Natasha said...

Wouldn't it be nice if all women - stay at home moms, work at home moms, single women, women who have chosen to work work full time and have kids, women who have chosen not to have kids, could simply support one another without judgement? I like the way you've chosen to live and love that you are honest about it...I dig's people like you, the women you mentioned and others who are making choices that are right for their lives WHILE adding something positive to this world, that are making this world a better place for all, including the children in it. Right on!

Mama Zen said...

Yes, yes, yes!

Sugar said...

"Being paid for your labor is better than giving it away out of love."

This is a tough one. Many moms that I know work outside of the home to escape their frustrations with the SAHM lifestyle. Because we may equate success and achievement with a high five, or a cheering crowd, or a paycheck, we can be tricked into feeling useless for the hard work that we do OUT OF LOVE. Some of us work from home just to keep the balance, but it's actually not that easy. Actually, it's kinda hard. My personal choices don't allow me to have a bunch of cool stuff that is only temporary... my choices are based on the love I have for my family that will last for generations, God Willing. And I know that one day, they won't be AT HOME to love anymore. But that's my personal choice. Hearing from others that tell me to do it THEIR way... well, that's probably the hardest part, until I see the smile on my kids' faces when I make them a PB&J between writing and photo editing.

Doodlebug said...

Thanks for the link to Sandra Tsing Loh's article. I used to listen to her on public radio when we lived in LA (before the big FCC brouhaha), and she's hilarious.

Thanks also for your blog. You're doing exactly what I'm trying to do with my blog--motivate my creativity in every form.

As for the work at home, stay at home, work out of the home issue, I'm with you. Feminism is about allowing women the freedom to make choices, to choose the life they want to live. And it's a struggle that we go through every moment of every day deciding whether the choices we make are true to ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm honored. My view of love: whether we're rewarded with money, or the look on our child's face, everything we do we do for love. It's just that money does not satisfy nearly as much as we expect it to. I enjoy money and I never refuse it, I just try not to fool myself that it is "worth" anything!

Now kindness: that's an even rarer commodity. Thank you for your kindness.

Rowena said...

natasha: don't get me wrong, if I hit it big and had the bucks come rolling in I would love it, but I just want the money to come while doing what i think is important, and money is not important in itself it is only a symbol for things, an often hollow one.

Sugar, the way I look at it, it's being a mom that is tough... rewarding, but tough, and we all have to find our way to struggle through. It would be easier if society didn't tell us we were wrong no matter what choice was made. And it would be easier if we all had our own personal wives.

Doodlebug: yup. And I didn't know Loh had a show. And yay for creativity bloggers without borders!

And Karen: You prove again why I turn to you for wisdom. You rock.

oh and mama zen, you rock too.

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