We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby…

but not far enough.

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to recognize the strides women in some parts of the world have made in gaining some semblance of equality and to make everyone aware of how far we have to go. If you don’t believe me look at what the Taliban has done to the women of Afghanistan. Look at the bustling sex slave industry in Asia. Look at the exploitation of female workers in most third world countries. Freedom is definitely relative to where you live.

Just focusing on the first world, we suffer increasingly from a lot of spurious, unscholarly press about the Mommy wars, about women dropping out of the workforce to attend to their families, about women ‘giving it all up’ and tossing those professional degrees to stay at home and get back to traditional family values or on the flip side, stories about how 2 income couples are mercenary and how that second income costs more money than it generates and about the terrible stress working women put on themselves and their families. The numbers behind those stories don’t hold up but that doesn’t stop anyone from publishing them because those stories have real value in the stands – they sell. We want to pin the ills of our culture on women working for a living. Never mind the steady diet of violence coming out of th entertainment industry. Never mind study after study that shows that kids who have full time working parents (both or just the only one they have) do just as well as kids with stay at home Moms. Never mind the growing trend toward stay at home Dads. It’s so much easier and more comfortable to spew a lot of garbage about how the traditional family model is the only way to go and about how women who work are giving their children up to someone else to raise and destroying the very fabric of life.

Don’t you believe it. I had to work full time for almost the entirety of my life as a full time Mom. I was fortunate in that I worked mostly from home but I had full time baby sitters and I expected the sitters to keep the kids away from me while I was working and they did. The kids were mildly annoyed by that but we worked it out. I now find myself intimately attached to 3 of the most stable, loving, fun people in the world – and they call me Mom or Mama.

I am very, very proud to be a feminist and to have raised a flock of feminists. My son has taken the longest to come around. He openly admits that he would prefer to just enjoy his white male privilege but he isn’t that guy. He’s an egalitarian at heart. My youngest is feminist right out loud which is a risky proposition on today’s college campuses where many girls start sentences with “I’m not a feminist but… [I think I deserve equal pay for equal work…I don’t like men staring at my boobs….. I don’t like being portrayed as stupid just because I’m female]”

My Humbly Anne is getting married in a few weeks and you can’t get much more traditional than that and yet she is doing it on her own terms. She will not have her Dad walk her down the aisle and ‘give her away’ because she doesn’t ‘belong’ to him and she won’t ‘belong’ to her husband. She isn’t getting married so that she can be taken care of by a man but she loves the way he takes care of her and she loves to take care of him. She isn’t getting married so she can have kids but having children is clearly on the horizon. She’s planning on getting pregnant fairly early in life, probably while she’s in graduate school and she is planning on having a career. If she changes her mind about that and can afford not to work then that’s what she’ll do. She’ll do what she does because that is what she wants and what is best for her family, not because someone says that’s the way it is supposed to be. She won’t get married in white because she has been living with her guy for a couple of years and she isn’t about to pass from virgin to non-virgin, from daughter to wife. She is creating a partnership with a man she loves and it is all about happiness and love and family and not at all about ownership, duty and subordination. She is a feminist.

To those of you who think ‘feminist’ and then think ‘ugly woman in overalls who can’t get a man’ please join the 21st Century and recognize that feminist means ‘woman who is master of her destiny, who is open to the life style choices of others and who wants to be respected for who she is, not what she looks like or how well she can cook and sew”. Feminism is what allows your sister, wife, daughter, niece, neighbor and friend to fully engage in life on her own terms. Feminism is responsible for the fact that women have choices and that they can make a living either because they want to or because they are forced to due to circumstances (widowed, abandoned, abused). Feminism both sets us free and allows us to participate. Feminsim is good stuff.

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12 Responses to We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby…

  1. Janice says:

    Three cheers! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am a working mother with a professional career and two young daughters (ages 6 & 8). My husband is a great dad & without him things would be really hard. He cooks, fixes things and plays a great game of pretend with the girls. I want my girls to grow up and be strong independent young women who do what they want with their lives. I hope I am a good role model for that.

  2. Dori says:

    Feminism is good stuff! Some day we may even have a woman running the country, though it probably won’t be Hillary. I never understood the “I’m not a feminist, but” school of thought. Somewhere along the way feminist became equated with “lesbian man-hater,” which of course it isn’t. I’ve even had a man tell me I’m a humanist, not a feminist. Whatever. I’ve considered myself a feminist for years, even though I don’t bring home a paycheck. I do consider my marriage a partnership. You did a great job raising your kids; I wish Humbly Anne much happiness.

  3. Peg says:

    …feminist means ‘woman who is master of her destiny, who is open to the life style choices of others and who wants to be respected for who she is, not what she looks like or how well she can cook and sew’…

    Here, here! I really enjoyed your essay…thanks

  4. Susan says:

    Very nicely done sister! All the happiness to Anne.

  5. fe-lady says:

    Thanks for the article…sometimes I wonder how far we have come. I see so many girls and young ladies that play the “helpless” role and only worry about being “pretty” and “available” and then get pregnant at 15. But thankfully they are offset by girls (women) such as you have raised. I don’t know where my daughter falls right now, and I don’t thing she knows at this point in time either, but I hope that by seeing me as the breadwinner/parent who was there for her has some bearings on how she “turns out” as an adult and who she picks to live the rest of her life with.
    And yes, I agree that a kid who is raised the right way with one parent is better than having the kid witness a horrible relationship and just staying together for “their benefit”….!
    Happy women’s month!

  6. momo says:

    happy women’s day to you, too, mom! what an amazing role model you are for your girls and your son! i can only hope to instill some of the self-confidence in my children that you’ve instilled in yours. i hope you are very, very proud, because you should be.

    will you post pics of the wedding, please? 🙂

  7. Juls says:

    Here, here for freedom. Freedom to make your own choices, to work part-time from home to care for a sick love one, or whatever. Life deals out and we decide the response. Thanks.

  8. Juls says:

    Here, here for freedom. Freedom to make your own choices, to work part-time from home to care for a sick love one, or whatever. Life deals out and we decide the response. Thanks.

  9. david says:

    Every day is for the same purpose. Every day has a cause. Every day has an infinite number of causes. We move through them excited by the senses that tell us they are different. We are encouraged by what we believe and by that which we believe we can change. Sometimes we take solace in what was. Sometimes we depend on the comfort of what was to help us turn the corner on what can be. Tradition, religion and upbringing are touchstones of the past. We evolve in our consciousness and purpose from one day to the next. Fluidity trumps rigidity.

    I’ll take an International Women’s Day, on rye, with lettuce; and I am putting on the “hit away” sign. Runners: take your lead.

  10. I’m a working Mom with my first child. And while I amlonging to switch with my husband (who is the stay-at-home Dad), I will do it on my own terms, not because I have to or society dictates that I do. I love saying I’m a Christian feminist which always complete messes with peoples stereotypes. We are out there. And we do still have oppression to resist.
    Amen to you sista!

  11. yea, sistah!

    I think Gloria Steinem said it best: if you are for women, you are a feminist.

    I really don’t think there’s anything more to it than that, but some people insist on attaching so much stupid stigma – you have to be bitchy, you have to carry a sign, you have to be a lesbian, you have to not shave your legs, you have to burn your bra.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…I, like your daughter, could not see my way though a marriage that was not a true partnership – which is why I’m happily married to my second husband. He is one of those who stayed home with the critters for the first year. He is one of those who treats me like a person, not a wifey. He too is a feminist – and has no problem with the word.

    I suppose that since I’m for him, I would happily be a man-ist. That’s partnership.

  12. bex says:

    Hear, hear! I’m proud to be a feminist. It’s interesting to note that, so far, only one man has commented on this particular post. Men, where are you?!

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