Raising children is a Job. And it should be legally recognized as such…

Once again I find myself in the position of defending stay at home feminist moms. Tonight, I’m tossing around this issue because I’ve just had the unfortunate experience of reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s article in The Atlantic entitled “1 Percent Wives Are Helping to Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible”.

Okay – just to be clear, I find Wurtzel’s brand of pithy offensive and bitterly righteous. For example, I offer up this gem: “When I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton — one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better — but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed.” Gag. So, if I were say a graduate of Valencia Community College – but had still read Beauvoir – would I be as offensive to Wurtzel? Are only the 1% her issue because there are others who choose wife and mother.

Wurtzel argues that “there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic. If you can’t pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.” Honestly, I think there are more women who think this way than I would like to admit – but I would argue that this completely misses the issue at hand.

Culturally we worship money and power and look down our noses at compassion and care — this framework allows jobs that were traditionally categorized as masculine – doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers etc. – to be viewed as more prestigious than jobs that were and are still often fulfilled by women – elementary education, child care, nursing, secretarial work and of course mothering. In other words – men – and women enacting roles that were traditionally held by men are seen as more empowered.

This of course leaves stay at home moms sitting on their couches, eating bonbons and doing nothing of importance, which is ridiculous. Raising/rearing children is valuable and needed. The issue is not that women shouldn’t choose to stay home, if they so desire, but rather that the culture does not recognize the value in this endeavor – and reward or respond financially. At Rollins College in Winter Park, FL (my alma mater) I once heard Gloria Steinem say that perhaps the best way to deal with this issue was to work within the system and offer a tax benefit/deduction of some kind for women who choose to take on the challenge of staying home to raise their children – sounds like an awesome solution to me.

I know this is one of my favorite rants – but feminism is about choice and social justice for all people. ARGH!

P.S. Thank You, Mom. You’re fabulous and I treasure the fact that you poured your heart and soul into raising me.

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4 responses

  1. So glad that you wrote this. I agree. This kind of liberal feminism really fails to engage so many of the core features of patriarchy, including the devaluation of “domestic” duties of life. This is a feminism that, as Val Plumwood writes about, wants to take out lifeboats for elite women to join elite men, leaving behind the rest. Just the other day a friend of ours mentioned that she had heard about a woman who was part nanny and part house cleaner who worked for $150 a week, working 4 days for 5 hours a day. That’s $7.50 an hour. For (un)fun, search for babysitters on craigslist. It’s where desperate women go to try to dig up extra cash, offering to work for almost nothing. And that’s because we as a society value care-taking just that much. But then there’s the Lingerie Football League, where real female athletes are permitted to play for money, so long as they fit idealized beauty norms and wear virtually nothing. Now that’s something that patriarchal-capitalism will pay for.

  2. Pingback: Fabulous Feminist Mom’s – because let’s face it, I’m still fuming. | Feminist Cupcake

  3. Pingback: “Fabulous Feminist Moms – because let’s face it, I’m still fuming.” | Feeling Good About Feminism

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