The New York Times today offers opinions on whether a woman can be both a mother and a feminist.
Ahem. I am neither, exactly. I am a guy, I have been a foster parent, and substitute school teacher. Parent, not so much. I am not, per se, a feminist, though I tend to deliberately choose a female doctor so that she doesn’t have only female patients, my name in the phone book is “B. xxx”, so that initials only aren’t always a woman’s name.
So, this is my opinion.
The problem with having to choose between a feminist agenda and professional life, and being a good parent, is that it perpetuates the artificial, corporate myth of modern so-called civilization.
Back when the industrial revolution started, those making money found it cheaper to bring folk into the manufacturing facility by day, pay a pittance, and send them home. Kids were put to work, or like those not on the payroll, sent away.
We still, most of us, assume that we should not be working where our kids are welcome, where our kids can learn life’s lessons working at Mom’s (or Dad’s) elbow. And we think this is “getting ahead”. Or a healthy way to live. We still think that our kids have nothing to contribute to our work, or that work we cannot do with our children present is healthy for us, our families, or our community.
That is the problem that I see.
Should any parent’s choice of profession be allowed to interfere with raising their children? Yep. Soldiers, prison guards. Emergency workers.
If you are concerned about the ongoing decline in energy availability (peak oil), in climate change or the ongoing economic crisis of debt, then there is the compelling challenge of finding a career and life style based on food, energy and resources that are available locally. But that is another story. I contend, though, that the modern, dysfunctional approach to life on corporate terms isn’t, um, sustainable.
The reclusive Amish feel that the farm is the right place to raise a family (children). The parents are always working, always near, the work can easily be expanded to include every child, and children know their work and what they learn is important to the health and welfare of their family. Even the youngest child sent out to help gather eggs before breakfast. Their culture has persisted and grown for a very long time, since about the time of Martin Luther’s Reformation.
I think the pairing of expectations of motherhood with “home bound” is unfortunate, as is “work for adults cannot include children”. I think what I understand of feminism’s original mandate, that barring women from any aspiration, was needed, and is appropriate. But I think we need to look deeper, to find meaningful work that enlarges the family, the parents, the community, and our children, all at the same time.