Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Definition of Feminism

Another interesting article on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood today was regarding a definition of feminism:  "I’ll say that feminism is any movement that distracts a woman from her natural role as a wife, mother, nurturer, and guardian of the home."  I guess you can put it that way if you want to look at it in a completely negative view -- rather than one of fighting for women's rights, including the rights to stay home and be a wife, mother, nurturer, and guardian, etc.

I thought the author's point was pertinent in that the feminist movement did change the expectations of women:

With the onset of feminism, what happened was not that going into the man’s world of academic competition and work was secured as a valid option for the few women who didn’t marry. Rather, it was turned into the expected path for the many, many, many more who wanted to, and did marry and have children, and were then expected to juggle it all so as to “enjoy the best of both worlds” (side note: without truly being able to fully dedicate themselves to either path, as human resources are limited after all).

So, when a young girl today enters university or starts a promising career, it may be said that she is “taking advantage” of the opportunities feminism provided for her, but we mustn’t forget that she is also doing what is now expected of her – again, thanks to feminism. Academics and career are not a “treat;” they are now an obligation, and the reason why this is not fair to women is easy to see when you observe women juggling career with marriage, motherhood, and homemaking.

It goes without saying that not all women have “careers,” just as most men do not have careers, but simply jobs aimed at putting bread on the table. (And many feminists who hold themselves aloof don’t realize just how snobby and elitist it is to talk about “self-fulfillment” and “self-realization” and “empowerment.” Only a select few can afford that!). Many just work because it is now the expected norm for a woman to be doing “at least something” outside the home, and also because the flooding of the market with female labor force caused a sharp drop in salaries, so that living on one income immediately became much less comfortable than before (though certainly still feasible). Husbands began to feel that it is their right to expect the wife to generate an additional income, forgetting that it is their obligation to provide (again, in the Jewish tradition). All of this created a vicious cycle, the breaking of which requires conscious decision and quite a leap of faith.


calico cat said...

I read a comment recently that reflects my same feelings about feminism:
"The biggest thing I appreciate about feminism is that in opening doors and expanding freedoms for women, it has given me the opportunity to know by my own experience that being a wife and mother is what I really want to be doing. I'm not doing it only because I have to -- I am exercising my agency. It seems to me that that is as it should be."

Marriage and motherhood really are a choice we can deliberately make now exercising our agency more than women did when these rolls were forced upon them. Now women are forced more in the other direction.

Amanda said...

I find it irksome that it is so difficult to live on one income in todays economic society.