Google+ Authentic Parenting: Feminism is more than working outside the house

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feminism is more than working outside the house

French feminist author Elisabeth Badinter recently spoke out against the new model of mothering in France called maternage (which is basically the same as attachment parenting). She sees this style of parenting as a anti-feminist return to the dark ages, enslaving women on account of their children.

"Thanks to a new coalition of ecologists, breastfeeding advocates and behavioural specialists, she argued, young women are facing increasing pressure to be perfect mothers who adhere to strict guidelines for how to care for their babies."
Exactly for discours like this one, I refrain from calling myself a feminist. This kind of reasoning is the one that gives feminism a bad name.
Feminism isn't just about going to work outside the house. It used to be, after WWII, agreed, but it's so much more now. Feminism is also about a woman's right to stay at home and look after her children if she so desires. It is about a womans' choice in childbirth and childcare. A woman's CHOICE! How can you be calling yourself a feminist if in your point of view women HAVE to work? Where's the freedom of choice in that?
Moreover, how can wanting the best for your child be anti-feminist? I CHOSE to be a SAHM, my husband and I have made our entire lives around wanting several children. That's my choice and if it's feminist to want to take that from me, because I might make working mothers feel bad. Well fuck you! One more reason why I'm a humanist. I care for myself and I care for my children and I'm not just going to leave them hang in there because it's sometimes hard and I'd feel so much better about myself and so much more interesting if I'd be working. But that doesn't make me a perfect mom. There are days that I'm sick of it, that I'd want to quit, but frankly, it would probably be the same if I did work.
To be perfectly honest, I think working outside the house would be easier. But in no way more fulfilling.
"She says that the new image of the "ideal mother" – one who breastfeeds for six months, does not rush to return to full-time work, avoids painkillers in childbirth, rejects disposable nappies and occasionally lets her baby sleep in her bed – makes impossible demands on any woman who has a life outside of her child."
And how shortsighted is it to think that the only life outside of her child a woman can have is a working one? I have a life outside of my child. Agreed, I have to mold it to my child sometimes, but I do have a life! And probably a much more desirable one than the life of a woman who has to work. I can do what I want when I want, having a child doesn't stop me.
I think given the choice, and if there wasn't a huge decrease in salary, a lot of women would choose to be at home with their child. It's a biological imperative. It is why our species survived. Don't ignore that just because you want to be equal to men. Being equal doesn't mean you should be the same!



  1. I think back when it started, the feminist movement had their hearts in the right place. What many, like the person you quoted, don't seem to understand is that nowadays our consumer-driven economy depends on women working. Now we're in the opposite situation where women want to stay home but can't. They've consumed themselves into a situation where they need both incomes to afford their house/car/etc. And society encourages this b/c it's more money for the country if women work. Doing what you love and following your passions should be the right of every woman. Going to WORK so someone else can raise your children is not, IMNSHO, something that every woman should be thankful for.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree that in its origins, feminism was a good initiative, yet - as we can expect from a kyriarchical society - most of its goals and acquisitions have been used against them.
    There is still a lot of road left unpaved, but I fear that right now, too much of feminism is focusing on segregation rather than on working towards one defined goal.

    Oh and I completely and utterly and also not so humbly agree about the raised by another comment

  3. I am often grossed out by some of the anti-child sentiment in feminism, although I suppose I can understand the backlash. Thanks for another great article.

    The pressure put on women to be "perfect mothers" is real, but in no way should the discourse then go on to sneer at mothers and babies.


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