Friday, September 12, 2008

Is there a middle ground?

Not to start a new invasion of the "Mommy Wars" but let's go there anyway...

There have been many battles waged. The premise that working moms were abandoning their children while feminists cried out that women who stayed home were oppressed. Then a wave of women declaring that feminism allowed them to make the *choice* of whether to go to work or stay home and a number of women dropped out of the workplace to raise their families. Although some feminists still suggest that staying home is "the wrong choice" and that the idea of "choice" in the first place is a misnomer. This articlefrom 2005 provides a good overview of this idea.

While interviewing women for my thesis, this was one issue that I saw over and over again. Childless women pondering what will happen when they do have kids - will they leave the workforce and if so is that a slap in the face to the women who have fought to get them to that position in the first place? New mothers wondering if going back to work so quickly was the right choice - were their children hurting from it or learning feminist ideals from it. And then the mothers who stayed home wondering how they could promote feminist ideals while vacuuming the living room and baking peach cobbler.

In my mind I struggle with the question of "How does a stay-at-home mom ensure her feminist ideals shine through?". I'm not asking whether or not it is considered feminist to stay at home or not. Let somebody else fight that one. I consider myself a feminist and I do, in fact, stay at home, so clearly my take on that is clear. But my real concern is how not to slip into the Betty Friedan described fear of the Feminine Mystique.

In true mama fashion, my son has woken up from his nap, so these musings must wait for a little bit...

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