Thursday, April 26, 2012

ranting on girldom. blame the internetz.

I've been holding onto this for about a week now. Because I don't have all the answers, and because I know that some of my opinions on this subject contradict each other. Because I know so often discussions about what we expect of women in this world, and what women should expect and do for themselves get very loaded and feelings get hurt. Obviously these are only my opinions and feelings, as I'm trying to work out how I feel about a really big issue. Being a woman.

The article I'm currently reading says: "If you don't like women to wear make up, you don't like women who have taken control the way they present themselves". It's interesting.

There are so many schools of feminism, and so many different ways of looking at things. Sometimes I feel like I'm being judged by feminism, or pushed into roles and lifestyles that just don't suit me as a person, because they are the "feminist thing to do".

I'm a girly girl. I like dresses and skirts and boots with pretty heels. I like sewing things and doing embroidery and flowers. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy spending time in the kitchen? (Um, you may have figured that one out.) I like wearing tinted moisturizer and eyeliner and mascara and layers of blended colours. I love doing my hair and having freshly shaved or waxed legs, and catching glimpses of myself looking super hot in windows.

I like these things in and of themselves, for how they make me feel. Sewing makes me happy. Cooking makes me feel productive and as if I am extending a gesture of love - I see it as a very primal way of taking care of people. The fact that the traditional woman's role was in the kitchen doesn't phase me: my role is in the kitchen because I'm happy there. As far as makeup and clothes go, I may dress girly, but I dress for myself. Bunny flat out hates a lot of the super-girly elements that I adore. So I say f*ck it and wear ruffles and flounces and dresses because they make me happy.

But those are all things that sometimes make me feel like I'm a bad feminist, or putting back the feminist ideals.

The idea of running a household and living out the traditional female roles doesn't scare me. They are suited for my personality. I don't feel pressured into those decisions. In fact, right now in some ways these decisions feel like rebellion. There's so much pressure to have everything, to be a career woman and fight my way into a corner office and put in the 60 - 80 hour work weeks. I have been told by people that my decisions will put back the women's movement.

Here's what irks me: in a fight for equality I feel as if we have turned everything is stereotypically the domain of women into second class choices. Not only am I pressured to have a career (and one that defines me), but if I do decide that I find more value and contentment one day in being a stay at home mother I feel like I am making a second class choice. Like I've made the wrong choice.

Even worse, we don't take men seriously when they step into the roles that have been traditionally filled by women. We as women are encouraged to go out and make our mark in the work world, to have a career, to fight the pay gap and more. But where is the reverse?

Yes, there are stay at home dads. I'm the only person I know who even came close to having one, though (my parents both took career breaks at different points before they split up - I had a parent at home approximately 30% of my childhood). I don't know a single peer or near peer who is a stay at home father. The opinions I hear about stay at home fathers aren't very positive. Which is unfortunate.

I do take issue with household work and raising children being characterized as "women's work". It's everyone's work, and men and women should both shoulder their fair share of that, as a whole. But here's my question ... why do we de-value that work so much?

I feel like there's a disservice being done here.

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