Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My voice

Time for another one of my soapboxy posts about women...

I was talking to my friend Catherine yesterday (c'mon join our blogging ranks) she is working on her PhD and her dissertation on literacy (hopeful literacy of mothers). She was asking about motivations in writing and I began thinking more about my motivations in blogging- I love it because it is journalling, with all it's rich details, pictures, etc. But I also blog to make a social statement. I blog to glorfiy, to validate the life I live. To show I am happy, to show I am proud of my choices. I blog because I am a smart mama.

I am grateful to the feminist movement for paving the way to greater opportunity in work and education. I loved growing up in a post- feminist revolution world, and with parents who provided the perfect scaffolding of security, ability, and confidence. I knew with out a doubt I could be or do anything I wanted. Endowed with power, by always moderated by my own choice. As I selected a profession it was moderated by my life goals (Yes I chose not to pursue certain professions or programs because I couldn't fit them with motherhood in a way that was acceptable to me) As we teach our children every choice has a consequence, and it is a truth of life that you can't have everything- so pick what is most important. This is a choice for men to-- my husband chooses not to have a job that requires heavy travel, long hours, or intense stress- yes he asks his boss for time to volunteer at preschool, yes, he sacrifices career for family for quality of life- is he walking out on manhood? Should he refuse to allow his paid work to be shorted for relationships...

There has been so much talk lately, of this of "us" the "opt out generation". The women who are "turning their backs" on the opportunities now available to them to stay at home. I listened to such an interesting discussion on NPR- polling young women in elite colleges- expressing their likelihood of stying home in the future, many feminists troubled by the numbers. Thinking our society must be sending the message you can't do it all- the clocks must be rolling back. Why is it "Choice feminism" is not accepted. How is choosing to care for others not a choice? I am deeply troubled by the way caregiving is undervalued in our societies. This extends to caretaking professions as well-- the pay and respect meeted out to a teacher is far less than that of a lawyer, business executive. Linda Hirshman contends the only way to flourish as a human being is through paid work.

To her I suggest the only way to flourish as a human being is unpaid work. The work that is the great equalizer of men and women across cultures, across all history and time. The work of care. I feel far greater satisfaction at night when I help someone far more than when I get a paycheck. I am not Godless or a slave to the god of self glory-- development of my own personal morality is far more rewarding than another plaque on my wall--

So my social statement is this- I am a woman, a smart woman, I don't want another woman to speak for me. I have a voice, my own voice. The press may not quote me, like Linda Hirschman, so my voice may not be as loud- many whispers can create a great sound--I am one woman just as she is, of equal importance, with a voice as unrelenting, as strong and as valid- Don't pity me, don't trouble yourself that society has done me wrong, don't fear I may never escape this domestic drudgery and become enlightened--This life, as a mother, as a mother who stays home, is my choice. I walked away from a tenure track college teaching job because I wanted to. I wanted to experience motherhood without distraction. Homemaking is not drudgery, paid work is not bliss. I am still the same girl who grew up knowing she could do anything she wanted--And guess what- world is still on a silver platter before her and she is still choosing all the greatest delicacies of life to enjoy.

16 comments:

Nettie said...

You may add my whisper to yours! It is really time for a new feminism, one that does tell the world that being a woman and mother is wonderful! My parents also told me I could be/do anything I wanted, but it was the example of my mother that showed me that motherhood is the finest occupation a woman can have.

Julie said...

Thank you thank you thank you! Beautiful, inspiring post!

Gabriela said...

You've got my whisper too! I am with you-I am choosing motherhood. I know I could do many other things;that doesn't mean I should, at this point in my life, do all of them. It also doesn't mean that I have given up my identiy or my indivduality OR my brains!

Thanks!

P.S. I tought college classes too! Biology. Loved it.

Julie said...

I don't know if you're interested, but you helped something really *click* for me this morning: http://rarelyhomemom.blogspot.com/2006/05/food-for-thought.html

thanks again

itybtyfrog said...

All I can say is AMEN to that!!! What a great post!

Amber said...

I'm not 'just' a SAHM, I am THE SAHM. It's an important role and I'm hoping (with you) that society starts to recognize that sooner then later. I feel that we do have choices- every day. I made the CHOICE to SAH- and I'm glad that I was able to do that.

Amber said...

You got me going. I just posted on this same suject- amen to that!

ubercyl said...

Great post! You and I subscribe to the same kind of feminism

Alissa said...

AMEN! Thank you so much! Really really wonderful!

Stephanie said...

Okay, this one got me going too. I talked to itybtyfrog on the phone and she said that I should read this. I am taking a few minutes from my self-imposed sabbatical.

I am grateful for the opportunities that are out there for women. I am thankful for those who fought for that right for us. I know many wonderful women who work outside the home. I am grateful for them. Especially those who choose to teach our children. To you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

That being said, I love my job as a SAHM. I can't imagine doing anything else at this point in my life. This is MY choice, my dream, my hearts desire. Feminism means the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. All things being equal, where is the RESPECT for my choice to do what I want with my life? I get weary of hearing "Oh, you're just a mom?" Yes. I am a mom, there are no "justs" about it.

Anonymous said...

3 chairs sister

smartmama said...

stephanie- thanks for coming off hiatus to comment-- what great thoughtS

moe said...

So, posing for Playboy now is an acceptable feminist statement about the freedom to do what we want with our bodies and the ability for women to earn $$$ but, staying home to care for children is hampering women's choice. Who says we're going backwards?

Why can't women working outside or inside the home be confident enough with their own descisions that they don't have to belittle someone elses?

JD said...

BOOOH YAH! that was an awesome post. I love the part about the choice. You stand as long as you want on that soap box.

ShelahBooksIt said...

AMEN!

Anonymous said...

"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

Jackie Kennedy