Friday evening, after working all day, I was multitasking around the kitchen trying to make rice krispy cakes for my daughters’ double birthday party on Saturday and scrolling through Facebook on my phone. I came across The Feminist Breeder’s status discussing childcare costs and how prohibitive they are. I already had ideas from remnants of other things I’d read recently, like this one from Huff Post Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Work and a thread in a group discussing whether some parenting practices, like attachment parenting are a DIY project intended to express a parents individuality.
I noted in Dear Daughter absolute selfishness in the writer. Her daughter of eight asks if she loves her children or her work most and the reaction is to blame the daughter for manipulation. She admits it breaks her heart but clearly cannot face the emotion without blaming someone else. Then she goes on to talk about herself and how much she loves what she does. She doesn’t explore what she may be doing other than just working that makes her daughter feel unloved for even a second in this piece. She mentions in one line that “you’d never ask your father why he works. His love is a given that long hours at work do nothing to diminish.” Has she not heard the song Cat’s in the Cradle? Has she not known plenty of people with difficult relationships with their fathers? Well ok, maybe it was more personal and she knows that her daughter would not question him, but in that case I don’t think the piece is very universally applicable. I think a lot of kids have similar questions for their fathers, and have done for a long time.
The author of the second article, in the Atlantic, tried to make the case that parents who practice intensive things like attachment parenting, homeschooling and home made baby food do so as an extension of their individuality. As the title suggests, she’s literally saying that they treat kids as a DIY project. To me, it goes without saying that I parent the way I do because I believe it is best for my children. If I was trying to express my individuality I’d do something like start a blog, or get a hobby. Before kids I loved to both bake and work out in the gym lifting weights and running on the treadmill (ironic I know). The way I treat my kids completely transcends the idea of a “DIY project.” I cannot understand how someone could come to that conclusion unless she either doesn’t have children or she does and she see’s them as accessories.
So when I wrote my Facebook post I obviously had all this stuff swirling around so I said: The Feminist Breeder is talking about how much childcare costs and I’m over here like “Guess what? Being around for my kid is hard but matters more to me because I want happy functional kids not accessories.” Is that harsh? I know some people have to work. Why aren’t we lobbying for that to change? I want an economy that works for families not the other way around.
Everyone stopped at “accessories” as if I think everyone who works treats their kids as accessories. As if I judge people like that. As if I participate in the fucking “mommy wars.” Well I don’t. That’s not where I’m coming from and that is not where I’m going. Ever. I started this blog because my opinions on almost everything are not very well represented. If I thought every woman should stay home and every man should work his socks off I wouldn’t have bothered starting a blog because that would be boring!
Let’s look at the bit that many of you didn’t notice: I know some people have to work. Why aren’t we lobbying for that to change? I want an economy that works for families not the other way around.
In my opinion, and I wrote it, that was the most important part of the post. In all English speaking countries, and most others, the expectation is that everyone should work. And because there aren’t really enough jobs to go around if you aren’t throwing your every fibre into work and making it a priority, someone else will. These days you’re expected to interview well for a Saturday retail job and research every single company you send a CV to so you can make them think working for them is your life long dream when most of us just need to pay the bills. Employers rule our lives now and we think it’s right. It’s rare to find an interesting and involved part time job because employers don’t think you mean it unless you’re going to devote 50 hours a week to them. I want all of this to change.
The fact that I have said we should be putting caring responsibilities ahead of work and many people went KAHBLOOM! proves patriarchy is alive and well. The fact that so many assumed I must be calling for women to stay at home full time proves patriarchy is alive and well. The fact that there are only two options, women stay at home or everyone works, both of them full of patriarchal values, proves that patriarchy has WON!
I’ve been working on a post about the wage gap for months now, on and off, mostly off. I want it to be right before I publish it, as opposed to most of my other posts which I bang out in a couple of hours and publish right away. Some of what I think about the economy is there but I shall outline for you now my thoughts on the economy, family structure and work.
I want to see Universal Basic Income instituted for every citizen. A payment every month that assures there is no one who lives below the poverty level and there is no one who is looked down upon for “being on the dole.” When this has been trialed in places, the only people who stopped working were those in education and mothers of small children, but of course culture and patriarchy plays a part in that. I’d like to see people not automatically assume that if someone is home it’s the mother while the father is at work (besides the fact that it ignores tons of non gender binary families). Ultimately I’d like to see a system where both parents of any gender can work part time in satisfying work while sharing caring responsibilities equally. I want to see employers take that kind of set up seriously. I want to see an economy that works for families rather than the other way around.
When I started to get comments on my post I tried to have a discourse but it became quite clear that most of those writing comments didn’t want a conversation they just wanted to rant at me about what they decided I meant. And then I had someone insist I drop what I was doing immediately and explain myself. I was dealing with a birthday party all day, this blog isn’t a job and anyway my blog is all about putting family first! Yes, it is a feminist blog about putting family first because I think that we will get equality when most kids are healthy, sound and loved, when those kids grow up to become healthy, sound, mature adults who don’t have anything to prove and treat everyone kindly.
But lets talk about this gem of a comment, from a man who was obviously trying to stick up for all the women out there from this sexist “Victorian man” of a blogger:
Wow, that post could not have been more poorly put across. You outright state that anything less than one parent being ‘at home’ is bad for a child’s development. So, what? A return to mothers being socially pressured to stay at home and forfeit any career?
Only because you cannot imagine that I am asking for anything other than women stay at home. YOU clearly hold the assumption that there are only two options: for a woman to stay at home or for a woman to have a career. No, I want to see some social pressure on men to start pitching in on all the caring and domestic duties too. I want to see them taking days off work for doctors appointments and working part time to fit it all in. You don’t seem to even be able to imagine such a thing on your own.
What if women who have to work?
I said right in my post that I know some people have to work and that we should be lobbying for that to change. The fact that some people have to put work ahead of caring for others, no matter the gender, is not conducive to a very nice society.
Even two parent households regularly require two incomes to maintain an adequate living standard. Your attitude has an unfortunate implication of classism; that only those in a position where their man earns enough to comfortably keep the family on his salary should be having children.
This is hilarious because, this is exactly what I said I want to see changed right in the original post. Did you even read what I wrote? Probably not. Also, I note you absolutely expect that the man will work. Your idea of equality is that men have careers and women have to choose whether to work or stay at home. I think that’s backwards, equality would mean both men and women are expected to make these choices.
Do you think single mothers are raising damaged children, or are you okau [sic] with them if they stay on the dole instead of seeking to re-enter the workforce, earn their own money, develop as an independent person and contribute, economically and socially, to society?
I’d rather see single mothers or single fathers “on the dole” caring for their kids to be honest. But as I said I’d really rather that all be moot and universal basic income instituted so that the choice doesn’t have to be made. I don’t look down at people on benefits the way you obviously do. I think that they are contributing to society, and that’s why I like UBI because it completely erases the stigma.
The social inability to allow a woman to have both family AND career is the reason for the dropping childbirth levels in Japan. Their culture does not easily accept a mother who works and they are under tremendous pressure to pick one or the other, as you seem to infer should be the case. This has led to more and more Japanese women going “Oh, I have to pick between babies and a fulfilling personal career? I’ll take the latter.” And their government is freaking out because their aging population is not getting the boost it needs, simply because they don’t like women doing both.
I do not think that women should have to choose between family or career. I think that careers should be easier to pursue around family life. This is all because no one has the creative ability to imagine a system that works for everyone. Its all about the employers and what they need and what we can do for them. What can we do to help them exploit us easier? Oh, not have kids. Great. Why don’t we have a huge appeal for employers to be more flexible? The GDP is growing, they’re all making money and the rest of us are sitting here arguing over who gets to help them make more and where we’re going to shove our kids!
Feminism has fought hard to allow women into the work place and meant they didn’t have to disappear from the workplace forever once they decided to have children. You, however, slap the faces of every woman who wants or has to do both. Every career woman advancing female representation in positions of influence, every single mother trying to make ends meet. For a ‘Radical Feminist’ you come across like a Victorian man.
No. YOU slap every woman in the face for not even imagining that I could be calling for men to step up to the caring plate as well. YOU think the only other answer is for women to disappear from the workplace forever. It’s not as if taking time out, for anyone, is impossible. Its not as if we cannot all rally together and insist on some good long parental leave, if we weren’t too busy competing with each other instead. There are actually quite a lot of career women advancing in positions of power who did take time out. So it’s not impossible; not for women, and not for men.
In case you haven’t noticed I think quite differently from ‘radical feminists’. I am a Renegade Feminist; I believe in equality. Real equality, not all this bullshit creatively challenged people think is equality.
Follow me on Facebook if you’re not so full of patriarchy you assume I am whenever I say anything nebulous.
Featured image courtesy of Hans Splinter
First image found on Pinterest here