Google+ Authentic Parenting: Am I a feminist? Part one

Friday, May 14, 2010

Am I a feminist? Part one

I have often said semi-jokingly that I am not a feminist, I am a humanist. In part, that is true. I care for all things human, yet I also care for all things animal, and all things natural. So maybe I am an omnibiotist? I think - where it is true that women have yet a long road to travel to be treated equal, to be empowered, to be raised to the status they deserve - men have quite a few boundaries to cross too. I also think there a huge steps to make for how children are treated, indifferently of their sex. And then I'm not even speaking of the way we treat nature.
But does that mean I am not a feminist. No, certainly not, for amongst all the things listed above, I do care for the sort of women. Women are the source of all human life on our planet, so maybe it's fair game to start there. And we still have such a long way to go. How could I not be a feminist.

Maybe I should explain why I used to distinct myself from feminism. Where I come from (I.e. Belgium, a rather backward country with no government) feminism is still stuck in an "all women must have a career" and positive discrimination kind of mindset.
And although I get where that's coming from, I don't think that's the way freedom of choice for women will be created. Nor do I think that will acquire a lot of sympathy for the cause.

Actions like the zipper principle (does that exist in anglophone countries? it basically means political parties need a woman for every man on their list), they are in fact reverse sexist, since we are not concentrating on the candidate's capacities, but only on his or her sex.
Isn't it odd to try and overcome sexism by the same means as the ones we are trying to eradicate?

Moreover, the type of feminism I am talking about - the type that repulses me and makes me say I am not a feminist - it's not really friendly towards women. It only glorifies a certain aspect of choice (the freedom to have a career and to be treated equal therein) and annihilates all other possibilities.
It belittles women who choose not to go down that road.
It denounces or diminishes the virtues of motherhood.

Feminism may not be a girl on girl thing.
It's not even a battle of men against women.
It should be an attempt to overthrow kyriarchy (*).

* the term was introduced by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, based on the Greek terms Kyros (master) and  archein (to dominate) as an adaptation of patriarchy (which is the domination of the father/male), so it diverts the notion of sex as part of the ruling class.



  1. In all my years as a feminist, decades really, I've never run into a feminist who belittles other women for choosing homemaking and/or parenting as a career...


  2. Sadly, Susan, I have, more then one... but maybe then that's the difference between European and US feminism.
    I have always had the impression that staying at home is much more tolerated in the States then in Europe, there you're just trash and unambitions and a waste of space if you stay home with your kids. Just Google Elizabeth Badinter and you'll get an idea of European feminism

  3. The women I know who label themselves feminists definitely find fault with this path. Also, pioneers of post-modern feminism have been documented criticizing women for choosing the sahm road. Interesting how we promote the woman's right to choose... as long as she chooses a career and chooses to operate in her new "freedom" by doing anything BUT staying at home to rear children.

  4. Throughout my life I had a lot of anti-women comments from feminists, especially against mothering and homemaking... I should really write an article about that once again. That's why for a long time I didn't want to associate with feminism, because I thought it was just that, it was just about careers and work and being like men, which is quite the load of bullocks in my eyes.
    I think the best effort a feminist can make is to raise the next generation well. That would have a much larger impact then not having kids and pissing off every woman that does

  5. I'm probably going to draw a lot of hate from this community for saying this but:

    Having a career and being economically independent is an important part of being a woman, and yes, of being a mother too. I'm about to give birth to our first child (three weeks from due date!) so I've been giving this a lot of thought.

    First, I think that long-term maternity leave is a right and a vital part of women's ability to participate in motherhood and in the workforce. I also believe that fathers are entitled to take time off in order to participate in childcare for the wonderful new arrival. I live in a fairly enlightened part of the world in this respect (Quebec, Canada) where working parents are entitled to claim close to a year off in parental leave at 75% of their salary, and receive provincial and federal assistance on top of that.

    In the USA, I understand, a working parent is at the mercy of their company's policy, and most companies are still not "family friendly" in that respect. They practically punish their workers for having the gall to start a family, mothers and fathers both, though mothers get the worse end of it. It's barbaric, IMO, but that's another rant.

    Being a SAHM is a choice, but I don't believe it is a very good choice given economic realities. There is nothing you can say to convince me that a zero-income, zero-benefit, zero possibility for advancement job is a good, fulfilling career path.

    Also, the SAHM career is only possible as long as there is a partner who makes enough to support it. If something happens to that partner, or their job, such as illness, injury, death, economic downturn, etc, the SAHM is completely bollocksed. How is she supposed to get a job and support the household when she has been out of the workforce for several years?

    God help the SAHM if the relationship goes sour; if she is economically dependent on a man who makes her miserable, she *can't* leave. She is stuck in a loveless (or worse, abusive) marriage because she cannot support herself or the children alone, and how is that supposed to be good for the family?

    In my own household I've been the primary income earner for a few years; if I'd gone the zero-income SAMH route, we wouldn't be able to support our incoming child, feed her properly, buy her clothes, save for her college education, or, well, anything. We would be poor and desperate and forced to live in a crime-ridden hellhole part of the city, and there's nothing you can say to me to convince me that I would be doing right by our child by condemning our family to poverty.

  6. This point on feminism is incredibly interesting to me. I have two small children and have just returned to full time work/study-changing my career from nurse to midwife. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with my children for the first few years of their lives and I think this was very important. We struggled lots financially and had to make huge changes to our way of living, but believed that having a parent at home was so important that it was worht the sacrafice. I do understand the difficulty of losing skills and in some profesions it can take very little time away from work for you to be seen as no longer current and employable.
    The thing with work, family, feminism is for a long it seems to me that women strived to be treated equally in regards to work and rights (which is fair and right)but many seemed to need to act like men in order to attain these rights. Women are amazing, beautiful, resourceful, gentle, strong and incredibly talented, we have skills and ability and knowledge that is ultimately feminine in its nature, these are things that should be valued and prioritised by society as equally relevant (if not more so)as male attributes.
    Lets be equal by acknowledging and valueing our innate feminine qualities, not by acting like men.
    Women who prioritise raising the next generation should be valued equally to women who are in work!


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