Don’t Tell Me I’m Not a Feminist Because We Are Not There Yet

In a recent article Elizabeth Wurtzel begins by comparing 1% wives (the richest non-working women in America) with all stay-at-home moms. Apparently I can’t be a feminist unless I earn an income.

This was the response that I originally intended to post to as a comment to her article, but I decided to put it here instead:

Come on Liz, don’t conflate rich moms with nannies with ALL stay at home moms. I have an education and I want to have a career, and I worked before I had a child, but for personal reasons I’m just not cut out for a full time job while I’m trying to raise my little ones. And I wanted to have children.

I don’t think it’s my duty sacrifice my family or my desire to have a family just to go out in the world and have a career “for the betterment of all women.”

I don’t think it’s my duty to help Feminism, but I think it’s Feminism’s duty to help me. Stand up for my right to work AND have a family. Come on Feminism make it easier for women to have a career and a family and they will! Where are the policies for maternity leave, family leave, breastfeeding rooms, daycare, etc?!!!!! I don’t not have a career because I’m lazy. I do it because we are not “there” yet.

You are absolutely right that we still don’t earn as much as men for the same jobs and we do not occupy all the top positions. My husband gets to be more successful in his career and life simply because he has a wife. The reverse is not true for me. But I don’t want to fight that fight while my children are small. I choose to sacrifice my career – for now – because my husband and I make a good family unit.

I do not romanticize staying home. It is a sacrifice I make.

But I am still a feminist.

I plan to earn my own money someday because I want to experience that fulfillment of my full human potential. But whether I do or do not – I am still a feminist.

You chose to not get married and not have kids – perhaps you never wanted those things – but perhaps it’s because you knew you couldn’t do that AND have your career. Brava! You have solved nothing for women. A working feminist without a husband or kids – who completely ignores the issues surrounding working mothers – is not a feminist.

(Incidentally, my husband does all the cooking after coming home from his job as a physician, so I’m not sure I’m *completely* losing in this situation.)

In a response to the article on the blog Feministe, the author, Jill, at least separates the act of staying home from whether or not someone is a feminist (emphases are mine):

“…she tries to draw lines around who’s a “real feminist,” which is a pointless exercise, and she defines a “real feminist” as someone who earns a living and has money and a means of her own. Obviously there are plenty of “real feminists” who don’t earn a paycheck. Obviously there are plenty of people who, because of age or ability or socioeconomic status, are dependent on someone else and are still “real adults.” And obviously stay-at-home wives can be feminists, even if I cock an eyebrow to the claim that staying at home full time is a “feminist choice.”

But that aside, Wurtzel poked some things that needed to be poked – “I choose my choice” feminism first among them.

In any comment section on the internet where feminism comes up, someone will pipe up and cry, “But feminism is about CHOICE!” No. Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.” Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism. Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized.

And maybe Jill is right by criticizing “I choose my choice” feminists instead of all stay-at-home moms. And maybe you can argue that my “choice” to stay home wasn’t exactly feminist – at least that separates my action from whether or not I’m a feminist. But I’m not a “I choose my choice” feminist either, just because I don’t work. I don’t feel it’s really an equal choice. Again, for me it’s not a “choice” it’s a sacrifice.

Saying that “feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality” – but saying that that should be achieved by all women going to work and men stepping up at home just isn’t effective. It’s shooting us all in the foot. What we need is policy that prevents women from being punished for working AND having children.

Show me the feminists who are working on those goals.

Brown, Green, & Blue Eggs

Green Eggs & Huevos Rancheros

(I wrote this Sunday morning.)

I love it when my husband cooks breakfast on the weekend! And this was partially leftover from our delicious vegetarian fajitas last night – he cooks most of our dinners too. And most of those are great. With only a few misses. 😉

We actually ate green eggs from a local farm. Look at these eggs! Green, blue, and dark brown.

Local brown, blue and green eggs.

Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros with leftover seitan fajitas and homemade, roasted chile and grape tomato salsa.

Brown, Green, & Blue Eggs

 I am one lucky lady!

(P.S. The eggs look normal once you crack them open. Once in a while when there’s a few to many crazy colored eggs, I almost lose my appetite, but the bottom line is – whatever their color – fresh, local eggs really do taste better!)

Today I Was A 1950s Housewife

At least according to Wells Fargo.

Tuesday it the day the babysitter relieves me of my precious one-year-old for a few hours so I can catch up on me. On my way home from doing some work in a reserved work-room at the library, I was all excited to deposit the federal tax return check (yeah, we filed late, don’t worry about it) so I could have money in my account without having to worry about transferring money from my husband’s account for awhile. We don’t have joint checking accounts, but with online banking and knowing my husband’s password, I’m free to transfer money from his account to mine any time I wish.

I pull into the drive-through and tell the lady I want to make a deposit. She sends a slip through the shoot and I send back the signed check, my ID, and my debit card.

She then informs me that she is very sorry but she can’t cash the check.

“Okay.” I answer smoothly. “Do I need his signature too?” That seems plausible and I can live with that (despite the fact that he just deposited our state tax refund in his account the other day when we went out to lunch and I didn’t sign it.)

“Well, it’s not that. It’s that he’s not on your account, so we need him to physically be with you. He needs to actually come in and get put on your account. You should call ahead to make sure he brings everything you need for him to get put on your account.”

So I tell her, that’s funny, because he just deposited our other check no problem. Nobody needed me for that even though my name was on that check too.

(And furthermore, we came in and sat down and signed up for these accounts together. How was it not noted that we are somehow connected by marriage then?)

It was just one of those whatever, ridiculous things and I didn’t make a big deal about it, it’s not the bank teller’s fault.

But really. As I was driving away it just kept niggling at me. This didn’t happen when Tim deposited the other check.

And it hit me forcefully upside the head.

I’m as powerless with our finances as a 1950s housewife. Even though I have no qualms about the fact that his money is our money,  (I spent a pretty penny of my own savings on our wedding and when he was in med-school. Our money is our money) and I transfer it to myself as I need it, I do find it very upsetting that there is this unbalance in our access to the money we share as perceived by our bank.

My name is on that check. I would have understood if they just need both of our signatures on the back.

But apparently I need to prove that it’s okay with my husband if that check goes in my account.

It’s not a big thing, but ick! The whole thing just rubs me the wrong way.

It’s so very I Love Lucy.