Psstt! Hey feminists! Over here. Yes, you – come here for a minute.
Did you have a good day today? You protested, took the day off work, wore red in solidarity – sounds like it was a good day. A memorable day, right? Want to know what my day was like?
I changed diapers, taught kids what < and > mean, scraped dog fur off the floor, and scoped out business cards. Yup, a normal day.
What? You expected me to support the fight and take the day off? Sorry, I have responsibilities that I can’t just dump on someone else. 3 little responsibilities that have names: the Engineer, the Princess, and the Destroyer. They wouldn’t understand why I took the day off, they’re too young.
Sure, I could have worn a red shirt, but you know what? It’s dirty. Haven’t done my laundry yet. And it’s not like someone else would see anyway, because we stayed home all day trying to beat the snotties that all 3 kids have.
It’s not that I don’t support you: sure, go for it! Smash those glass ceilings down and have fun! I’ll even loan you a sledge-hammer.
No, it’s more that I feel you don’t support me.
You see, I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. By my choice. Because it’s what’s best for my family right now. Because I’m smart enough to figure this out, and blessed enough to have this option.
Every feminist I’ve ever talked to seems to think that by making this choice I’ve given up being a feminist. I still care about women’s rights; about the pay disparities, the gender norms – all of that. But you guys don’t seem to think my opinion is valid anymore because … I’m not working. And by working, I mean working outside of the home. Because I sure as hell am working. Taking a 9-5 job would be a vacation because I’m a special needs parent.
So sure, fight for equality. Fight for equal pay, for equal rights in the workplace. Fight against sexism – go for it. I’ll support you from the sidelines. But until you pick the fights that really mean something to me, I’m not joining you. You won’t find me marching in protests or wearing red today.
It doesn’t feel like you care about me even though I fit your demographic of white, middle class, and educated. And it’s not just about me: let’s talk about the single moms. The other stay-at-home moms. The moms of color, the immigrant moms. Let’s talk about the women who make minimum wages and would love to even get close to the glass ceiling, let alone smash one.
Let’s do more than that: let’s talk about what I’m going to do when the kids are grown. Let’s discuss why my degree will be worthless after staying home with the kids. Let’s talk about why our society doesn’t respect caregivers of any type – for child or adult – and why their wages are so low (but child care is so high.)
I want to hear the leaders of the feminists movement support more than just the working woman. Let’s fight for affordable day care, and better day care so that parents don’t have to worry about their child’s safety. Let’s talk about giving massive tax breaks for day care so that single parents can work knowing that child care won’t eat most of their paycheck.
Let’s hear the leadership of the feminist movement brainstorm about balancing personal life and being a parent. Let’s talk about the societal expectation for women to do the work and then some as a parent. Let’s discuss why so many people think that moms are being unsafe by letting their kids play outside by themselves. Let’s get knee-deep into the expectation that an older woman has to be attractive, but an older man is judged by his expertise.
I want to see feminists supporting stay-at-home moms when they feel like they need to make that choice. It’s certainly not one we make lightly, and we get flack from practically everyone about it.
I want to see the leadership of the feminist movement embrace women of all colors, creeds, politics, and yes, even abortion stances. If it’s truly about supporting women in all walks of life, then politics, race, and all the rest shouldn’t be a factor. The Third Wave of feminism is making strides towards this, but we have a long way to go.
Until I can shop Amazon for socks and find more than cutesy animals and prints, we’re not there yet. Until I look for kid’s lab gear and not find stuff marketed to girls with bling, we’re not there yet. Until Pampers puts out a neutral set of pull-ups so that both my kids can wear the same one (they’re the same size) we’re not there yet. Until I can find easy, quality clothes for my daughter with fun robots, dinosaurs, and cars that aren’t PINK or PURPLE, we’re not there yet. Until I can shop for clothes myself and find something that fits and that’s not covered in floral puke, we’re not there yet.
Until I can say “I’m a stay-at-home mom” and not get sneered at – we’re not there yet.
Make it so, feminists. I’ll even wear a pussyhat and march with you.
Note: I know that many feminist agree with me on these problems. I’m not seeing it in the leadership of the feminist movement, and I’m certainly not seeing these critical social issues like child care being raised at a national level in any major way. My point is this: feminism today has a very narrow set of criteria. I don’t fit in those criteria, so I can’t be a feminist. Right? Wrong.