I have come to the conclusion that the 1960s pretty much destroyed any semblance of cohesive “sisterhood” between various factions of women in America. Radical feminism of the time pit housewives against college attending girls. Being a mother was looked down upon. Writers like Alice Walker gave birth to a daughter, fellow writer Rebecca Walker and would later tell her she was nothing more than burden on her and that she should have had an abortion because children restrained a woman’s growth. With the legalization of abortion came reproductive choice, but at what cost? Women thought they were being supported to live the lives they chose for themselves, but really they were nothing more than pawns in a political game they are still being used in four decades later in a made up campaign referred to as the “War On Women”.
Who defines the role of a woman? And when did the femmebots become the end all be all to what makes one a successful woman? After the past few weeks of listening to the denigrating comments being thrown at Ann Romney about her role as a mother and a wife, it really got me thinking about my own mother and choices she made for herself and for her family. The very people who attack Ann Romney also attack my mother for her brand of feminism.
Simply put, my question is this? What makes a working woman any better than a mother who chooses to stay home and raise her children? In fact, who came up with the term “working woman” to describe those who go to their 9 to 5? Do stay at home mothers not work? Recent studies have shown that unless their husband makes a significant amount of money yearly, the cost of a woman going to work full time as well wont even cover the cost of day care (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/cost-of-childcare_n_1797776.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&ir=Parents&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000005&src=sp&comm_ref=false). So if that’s the case, why not stay home to raise the children you gave birth to instead of handing them off to someone else 80 hours a week who will be giving your children their morals and ethics? I grew up in a very ritzy and privileged part of Los Angeles. I worked at parks and was a nanny when I was in high school and college. I have seen first hand the effects of hands off parenting. I have seen how a child who is raised mostly by a nanny instead of their own parents can shape their personalities, their behavior, and their self esteem. It isn’t pretty. Many of these children lash out at home, they don’t perform as well in school, and they certainly have many emotional issues that they will have to contend with as they get older. Now before anyone gets up in arms with me for attacking the working mother, I am not attacking her in the slightest. The children with the nannies I speak of above? Guess what? Their mothers were very privileged and did not work. In fact while Dad was off working 60 hour weeks, Mom was off hanging out with her ritzy friends at the country club while the “help” such as myself were at home raising their children. How does any of this make for a better and more advanced woman? The Mom who works and needs a babysitter to help her after school and with errands is not one in the same. And women like that deserve and need a hand sometimes.
For years fellow class moms, softball moms, other moms in the neighborhood would talk down to my mother like she was some sort of ingrate for making the choice to stay at home with her children. Mean cruel phrases like “You set us back a whole century with your choice” would fall out of their mouths. But she took it in stride and kept her cool. Deep down inside she knew she was making the right choice for her and for her daughters. Being the ultimate Mom she was and is, my Mom made her two daughters the focal point of her life while we were growing up. At softball games, she was the Mom who brought the snacks every week waking up early Saturday mornings to cut those orange slices perfectly. She was the Mom at every PTA meeting. She was the Mom sitting in the classroom as an unpaid teachers assistant volunteering and lending a hand because she knew teachers needed the help and were overwhelmed. When I wanted to be in beauty pageants she bought me cute dresses… And when it became too outrageous her inner feminist said no more beauty pageants! When I chose to join Academic Decathlon and debate, she was there with her pompoms front and center cheering me on to nerdy academic gold medal success. She has been there as an adult too because your role as a mother does not end the day your children turn 18. When I decided to embark on a career in politics she knew it would be hard because I am a woman. And the political world is a rough one to break into when you are a woman. But she never let me be a victim. She never let me believe the glass ceiling could hold me back. She told me to wipe my tears, stand up tall, and put my boots on because it was time to kick some ass.
My Mom the stay at home parent, is not the only outside of the box feminist I know. I am blessed to have many in my life who have shaped me as a person and the woman I am today. My grandmother, the original working Mom went out and did what she had to when it came to supporting her children. And what a life she has lived! She has been a race car driver (seriously), she worked at the original Wal Mart in Arkansas (I am not joking), she dealt cards at casinos (Teach me how to count cards Gramma?)… These are just a few of the interesting jobs she’s had in her life. And yet somehow she has managed to raise three awesome children and be there in the lives in her numerous grandchildren. Was her growth and potential somehow hindered by having children? I think not! My Aunt Ruth, the hardest working single Mom I have ever known gives me inspiration as to what womanhood should look like all the time. Taking care of a child on your own in the big city is no easy task. And working your way up from being a temp to being the VP of one of the largest companies in her industry in less than two decades is no easy task. My Aunt Michelle has steadily worked two jobs my entire life to put my cousins through school and is putting them through college now based off the work she has put into raising two amazing kids like my cousins. My boyfriend’s Mother Catherine joined the Army at a young age, had two children, and has been hands on their entire lives. Did having children hinder their abilities as independent women? Absolutely not. I could give you example after example of the various forms of motherhood, but I think you get the point.
Instead of attacking one another knowing that life can be hard for women, why do we continue to go after one another? Why do working women attack Moms who stay home? Why do stay at home Moms look down on women who work? Why do elitists look at Ann Romney like she is some sort of abnormality holding our gender back? She stayed home, had five kids, and raised them to be good people. Something women have been doing for centuries. And in case you were not aware ladies, your body was created to give birth to humans. Something you should take pride in. Last time I checked men can not carry babies around and give them life (Sorry boys, be jealous). That is something you will always have and should cherish your ability in doing so. I am so grateful for the women I have encountered in politics before me. They have been really amazing. No drama, no garbage, nothing catty. Just pure love for the next generation of women coming into the arena. Know that you can be a feminist and a conservative. You can be a traditional Mom and be career orientated. You can be whatever the hell you want to be as a woman! Dont let the talking heads tell you otherwise. DO NOT fall for the victimhood trap that the political left has set out for you. You do not need the government’s help in advancing yourself as a person. That should be insulting to you that somehow the government needs to help you more and interfere more in your life because you happen to be a woman. What that means is they see you as the weaker of the species. And if you ask me, it is pretty damn hard to be a woman sometimes. There is nothing weak about our species. Radical change needed to happen in this country in order for women to advance and be treated with equality. But instead of seeking equality, the women’s rights movement took a turn away from being proud to be a woman and equated receiving equality with acting like a man and confusing gender roles. It’s time to thank our foremothers for their hard work and move forward. We have to stop living in this suspended motion version of 1960s style feminism. It is destroying womanhood in America as we know it.