Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feminism and Homemaking

A lot of people talk about feminism. I have friends who are feminists. Heck! I'm a feminist!! Yet I often find myself having to defend my beliefs and my desire to be a homemaker to other feminists. They make me feel as though I am breaking some horrible feminist code...
I enjoy being a homemaker. I currently work part-time as my husband and I do not have children and need the extra money right now since we are still paying back student loans and trying to pay off our debt so that we can truly live debt free lives. However, the plan is for me to not have to have a full-time job. Especially when you consider the fact that most full-time jobs available for me with my skills would pay minimum wage and, when we have kids, won't be able to cover the cost of child care.

I'm often told by some of my feminist friends that I'm going backwards. That I'm not really a feminist because I'm supporting the old-fashion and out-dated notion that women should not work. Do I believe it best for a mom to stay at home if possible? Yes. Do i believe it to be right for all women? No. Not all women have it in their hearts to truly be homemakers and I respect that. I also respect that I feel this way because of my religious beliefs, and that others do not share in my faith.

I personally find one of the messages in the movie Mona Lisa Smile to really hit the nail on the head with how I feel. Towards the end of the movie, Julia Stiles' character gets married to her long time boyfriend, and Julia Roberts' characters approaches her and criticizes her for not continuing her education, and not conforming to Roberts' ideas of what feminism meant. Stiles then reminds her of one of the more important messages in the movie. "You told me I could be anything I wanted to be," she says. Stiles WANTED to be married and support her husband by keeping house and working part-time to keep him in school. She didn't want to continue her own education. She, as a woman, made the EDUCATED choice to do this, and live the life she wanted to live.
Some women make the choice to go into the business world and make a career for themselves. Others want to be homemakers. I don't believe either choice goes against the ideals of feminism. I am not saying that women are not legally equal to men. I am saying that just like two men are not equal when it comes to their work ethics, their abilities and skills, a woman and a man are likewise not equals because they are two independent beings.

Neola recently commented on a most I made, and she said that you should always feel as though you should be able to move up the corporate ladder. While I very strongly disagree with the literal meaning of this statement, the underlying tone is something I strongly agree with. As women, whatever we find ourselves doing, or choose to do, should be empowering to us as individuals with our own individual personalities and desires. We should not look to be a part of any mold -whether it be the old-fashioned homemaker or the modern business woman. Both are molds into which woman are often having to place themselves, even if they find they are not happy in either realm. We need to break apart the molds and support the idea that women, no matter what they choose to do, are empowered to make that decision and can do as they see fit. I don't want to move up a corporate ladder. EVER. I feel like star being shoved into a tiny square hole that just doesnt work for me. I don't feel empowered when I'm working outside my home. I do it because I can't stand to be alone all day (remember, no kids yet), and because my husband and I could use the extra cash right now. Women need to be able to just be themselves - whatever shape they may be.

So, I'm a feminist who has CHOSEN to be a homemaker. I am empowered and happy and love the challenges I face in my day to day life. I believe that all women, as long as they are being true to themselves, are supporting feminism as long as we are supporting EQUAL RIGHTS for all of us. No matter what "mold" or "shape" we find ourselves.

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