In-your-face stuff from an opinionated
rural north Idaho housewife.
Is that a trick question? Of course they are!AMcSp
Patrice, I found your article very interesting. I read Miss Matchar's Salon articles. She is so conflicted about the important things in this life and the next.I sincerely hope that she reads your column. In particular that she ponder the powerful quote by Barbara Bush that you referenced.Montana Guy
I'm not sure they're any more insane than any other zealot. Certainly they're as fanatically devoted to their point of view as the most wild-eyed ISIS fighter, but I guess that can be said of any zealot. I'm not sure it's feminist careerism OR housewifehood that makes a woman feel as if she's stuck in a soul-sucking trap. I somehow believe that it's knowing she has no real choice in the matter.In my grandmother's day, a married woman was a housewife. Period. No matter what she'd done before, or what she dreamed she might do, she became a housewife immediately after the wedding and remained one for life. If money was desperately tight, she might take up housecleaning, babysitting, washing, or mending. My grandmother, for all she enjoyed raising her daughters (and granddaughter) and cooking and laundry, pushed her daughters to "be more than housewives." I don't think she hated her life-- I think, in fact, that she would have chosen her life had she been given a choice beyond "marry or don't." I do think that she hated not really having much choice. Fast-forward two generations. I am supposed to have all the choices in the world. Career?? I can be anything (or could have been fifteen years ago anyway). I can be anything, and NOT be referred to as a Jezebel or a loose woman simply for choosing to have a career. Anything... except a housewife. Which is what I chose. I found the idea of leaving my child in anyone else's hands (even the loving, capable, and eager hands of my dad and stepmom) to be soul-sucking-- and then (and only then) it dawned on me that I had a CHOICE. I could choose to stay home and raise her (and any subsequent children). And so I did. Of course, in choosing that, I was also choosing to let career go. Unfortunately, with that choice, I also chose to forsake autonomy, even a modicum of self-determination, and the respect of a great deal of society. As a SAHM, the onus is on me to prove to myself and everyone else that I am not too stupid to work, not lazy, not a gold-digger or a bon-bon eater. For some (like my in-laws), no amount of work done at home will ever prove my worth or willingness to contribute like even a minimum-wage job would (even though we don't need the money-- we have no debt, just paid cash for a new-to-us vehicle, have savings, want for nothing, and can if we choose to do so indulge in *ugh* recreational shopping). For some, my worth is measured in dollars earned, and no other measure even applies. And, yes, I find that soul-sucking. It's not about the work-- I love keeping my home and garden, using my brain to find frugal solutions, and spending time with the kids. Yes, those jobs are often difficult, challenging, back-breaking, labor-intensive, unending, filthy, and thankless-- doesn't matter, I love them. I love them in spite of what they are, and because of what they are, and most of all because they are the jobs I CHOSE to do. Much like the working woman of the 60s hated having to prove her devotion and fidelity (and facing scorn and judgment for her decision no matter how devoted and faithful she might be), I hate having to prove, daily, my intelligence and willingness to contribute (and facing scorn and judgment no matter how capably I contribute). What's really insane is the label war. Screeching "Jezebel" and "traitor" and "breeder" and "bon-bon eater" back and forth at each other. What's really insane is the "Mommy Wars," or perhaps we should rename them the "Woman Wars." What's really insane is the binary-- you can be only one thing or the other, and one must of necessity be utterly good and the other must of necessity be utterly worthless.
Dear MC,THANK YOU! Your contribution beautifully describes the predicament many of us faced when it came to "choosing": we weren't supposed to choose to be married and stay at home. A paycheck reigned supreme to our talents and calling for home life and child rearing. I still hear the phrase, "you don't have a job", while I work all day long. My husband and I have now reached an age where I can avoid the discussion by just saying, "we are retired", while we continue to work all day. It was devastating to me to feel that choice of being married and allowed to stay home, raise children, have a big garden, be the volunteer was taken from me and replaced by scorn and an overabundance of appointments to every task as I did "not have a job". I finally found the "NO" word and used it frequently, explaining that I had a very important time consuming JOB. Its truly maddening that we tear each other apart for what is supposed to be a choice. sidetracksusie
Patrice, I enjoy most of your writing, but here I feel you are being unfair.I don't think feminists think the pinnacle of existence is working an 80-hour week, hooking up with random me and having abortions, as you write. I seem to remember that most women who have abortions are rather young or already have children, which would actually exclude those career women you seem to despise so much. If you work an 80-hour week and focus on your career, you will do exactly that and have no time to hook up with random men; most career women I've read interviews with are very clear that they would enjoy being in a stable relationship or are married - exactly because they know that having a peaceful home life will free your mind so that you can focus on your job. I'm sure children - or not having children because they've focused on their career instead - are a sore point with many of these women, which many also admit in interviews. But as you yourself say, it's impossible to have it all. A woman who focuses on her career and finds it more fulfilling than a more domestic lifestyle does what feels right for her and works as hard as a mother of three or four. No need to despise these women or regard them as insane.As to the young women who are fascinated by mommy blogs - many of these blogs do sugarcoat domestic life a lot (I share many of these bloggers' values and have been running a household and bringing up children for 20 years, and mostly it's nothing like the twee 50s aesthetics some of these blogs adopt), to an unrealistic degree I would say.The catastrophe is not even that there is a "lunatic fringe" in feminism (as in any other movement or ideology) - these people are so extreme in their ideas as to be largely unappealing anyway, but that within mainstream society, having a family and raising children exclusively, the importance of the home and homemaker are sadly neglected and never preseted as a "real" career choice.
Patrice, I love your blog and columns! Your forthright honesty and down-home application of God's wisdom are much appreciated in our hedonistic society. One thing only would I change and that's the use of homemaker rather than housewife. It is a much more accurate description of what we do. We make our homes. I sometimes wonder if you don't purposely use housewife just to push somebody's buttons. Keep on girlfriend, you are making an impact!
There are many different people who are feminist and not all of them think and act alike. BUT, it seems that all of them espouse and support this idea that women should get special treatment so they can be "equal". I don''t know, call it irony, or call it stupidity but how can you be "equal" if the standards must be lowered to allow you to compete. There is this feeling by many women that it would be a good thing if the military was half women. Would it? Do you seriously think women can carry 60 lb packs, live in the mud and blood for a week to months at a time and be effective fighting men? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, I suggest a compromise: Let's require allwomen sign up for the draft and that in the event of war or need women be drafted without regard to their individual wishes just as men would be. Now THAT would be "equality".
Yep, cracks me up. Women HAVE equality. If I woman wants to give 80 hours a week to her job and come home too exhausted to do so much as pay the bills (never mind having anything to give anyone else), she can, in fact, earn the same paycheck as a man. Of course, I don't really want a man to have to live wasting his soul on the work-spend-waste treadmill either, but that's beside the point.Life involves choices. If you choose to invest all your energy in your career, you make more money, regardless of gender. I know a woman who earns $100K+ as a research and development engineer. She's good at it. Her husband and her parents pretty much raised the kids. They were good at it. It all worked out-- but she understood that it wasn't a "poor woman" thing. She had to make a choice. Male or female, life isn't going to give you everything you want-- especially if you want everything. As a general rule, the adage "time is money" applies. You can have large amounts of money to spend, or large amounts of time to spend on other things. Unless you're born rich, hit the lottery, or develop a really great business model (or really successful Ponzi scheme), you generally don't get both.That's not gender discrimination-- that's LIFE.
Very well said, Patrice.
I photograph headstones so I have been to few cemeteries. I have never seen a headstone for a woman that states "Here lies Sue she was the most highly paid banker according to Forbes or Here lives Mary she could raise potatoes, butcher pigs and set a fancy table. In the end it doesn't matter what your title was it matters the kind of person your will be remembered for being.
As our pastor sagely observed, "Sin makes you stupid."
I feel sympathy for the writer. I too was a feminist sitting in my cubicle, reading rural-revolution and mrmoneymustache while my female coworkers bitched and moaned on our internal Parents Connect mailing list about the need for paid maternity leave and more work life balance. After reading the blogs and realizing the "we can't afford to have one parent stay home" excuse was bullschlocka as Patrice and Mr. Mustache demonstrate through their blogs, and after realizing how truely inconsequential my job was in the grand scheme of things, I am proud to say I am now a stay at home mom. Side benefit: dropping 15 lbs simply from eating more at home and not sitting in a cubicle all day. Thank you, Patrice.
Whoo-hoo, congrats! Would you consider writing up your story so I can post it on the blog?- Patrice
Sure, I'll give it a shot. Give me a week or so?
Sent to the hotmail address Don used in the advertising post a couple days ago. Cheers!