Remember Leme? The person who commented on my Dads are good parents too post? In that post I quoted some morons who left ridiculous comments on a MomLogic post about stay-at-home dads. I was commenting on how it ticks me off when people call stay-at-home dads “unnatural” or “pussies” because dads can be just as good of parents as moms. In fact I really like the trend in recent years where dads are becoming active participants in their children’s lives.
Leme wanted to know why it made me mad when people criticize stay-at-home dads when we’ve been criticizing stay-at-home moms for the last 40 years. I think I answered that question in my follow-up post; The mommy and daddy wars. But apparently Leme disagrees. So here are a few more words on feminism and staying home…for Leme.
Leme – Your question was not a simple question. Your question is a question that continues to fuel the mommy (and now daddy) wars. Your question is naive and irresponsible. Did you even read my response to your comment? Or do YOU not understand?
Why is it wrong to tell men they should have a career and be independent when that is the same thing we have been telling women for the last 40 years? It’s wrong because when something is wrong you should try to fix it. Not just say “well it’s always been that way so why change it now.”
100 years ago women could not vote. Only poor unmarried women worked outside the home; and then it was in jobs that were considered “women’s work” – jobs as domestics, teachers, or nurses. Women couldn’t be doctors or lawyers or fight for their country in the military. They didn’t have the educational opportunities that men had. After all you didn’t need an education to be a wife and mother. They couldn’t hold public office or even have an opinion on politics. Really they couldn’t even have their own thoughts. They were the property of their husband.
For centuries girls were told to devote their lives to finding a husband and having children. They were brought up to believe their whole self-worth was wrapped up in their marriage and children. That was what was expected of them. They didn’t get a say. That’s just how it was. And some women were perfectly happy with that. But some women weren’t. However they didn’t know there were others out there that were just as unhappy. They didn’t have a voice.
And then some brave women stood up and demanded they be heard. They demanded they have a right to make decisions that effected them and their lives. And then in 1920 women won the right to vote.
But women weren’t willing to stop there. They continued to fight for their rights. To be equals to men. To have their own opinions and the same opportunities as men. To be whatever they wanted to be.
And as women, whether we stay home or work, we should be grateful that somebody stood up for us. Were all of their ideas good ideas? No, but at least they were willing to fight for what they believed in, get a dialog started, and create change. If we’re dissatisfied with our lives we need learn from these early feminists and fight for our right to be heard.
“Why was it [Friedan's] â€œbusinessâ€ to comment on what other people did?” Because Friedan didn’t call women names for being stay-at-home moms. Instead she did her research. She surveyed the women at her high school reunion. She spent five years talking to moms to find out what they were feeling. And she spoke as somebody who had been there; somebody who gave up her career to stay home with her children. Most of the people who criticize stay-at-home dads have never been a stay-at-home dad; many aren’t even dads. At least Betty Friedan could speak from experience…rather than ignorance.
“I said â€œweâ€ meaning the society as a whole…” I absolutely disagree. I do not believe that society as a whole has been advising women to continue with their careers rather than be a stay-at-home mom. Of course there have been some vocal opponents of stay-at-home moms, there have also been many opponents of working moms. But “as a whole” I think many people believe it’s perfectly fine for women to put their careers on hold or even abandon a career completely and take on a new career as a full-time mom. Laura Schlessinger is a big proponent of stay-at-home moms. She even goes so far as to say that all moms should stay home with their children for at least the first five years. This is the exact opposite of what you think “we” as a whole are saying. When Linda Hirshman, and more recently, Gretchen Ritter came out against stay-at-home moms saying it’s “dangerous” for women to stay home and that women should have a career, they received a ton of backlash for their comments. I would say “we” are somewhere in the middle. “We” think women should do whatever they think is right for them and their family; be it working outside the home or being a stay-at-home mom…as long as the decision is hers.
Additionally, as I stated in my rebuttal, more and more women are staying home with their children in recent years. Due in part to the feminist movement, many women sought out careers rather than staying home in the 1980s and early 1990s, but that number has been steadily declining since 1990. Woman have decided they don’t need to listen to society to tell them what do to do. They’ve decided the best person to make decision about their life is them. So some women are continuing in the workforce. And others are deciding to stay home. They’re doing what’s best for them.
Then why is it wrong to be equally concerned about the loneliness and isolation of stay at home dads. It’s perfectly fine to be concerned about a dad’s loneliness and isolation. In fact that’s why we talk about it. To educate people that there are stay-at-home dads out there who are perfectly capable of hosting a playdate or mingling with the moms at PTO meetings. And dad’s should understand that staying home may have some disadvantages. It can be lonely. So dads (and moms) need to find support systems. They need to find activities and hobbies for themselves and their children.
I think this was Betty Friedan’s point with her book. I think Betty Friedan was letting women know they weren’t alone. There were other women out there that were feeling just as lonely and unsatisfied with their lives as they were. We find comfort in numbers. Not every women was dissatisfied, but some were and they thought they were alone because everybody else seemed to have the perfect families and the perfect lives. But in reality, staying home isn’t for every women (or man) or every family.
Yes, I did say I encourage my children to get an education and not be dependent on somebody else. But I also continued with “Then when they are older and fall in love they can make the decision that is best for their family. They can work with their partner to determine the dynamics of their marriage. They wonâ€™t have to be told by their partner what will happen in their family. They will be an active and informed contributor to their relationship.” If any of my children (either my daughter or my sons) decide to be a stay-at-home parent I think that would be wonderful. As long as it’s his/her decision and not solely his/her partners decision. I think it’s important for all children (regardless of race) to explore and find what interests them and makes them happy. Not just settle for what their spouse or society chooses for them.
You said, “You responded to a question about being a stay at home parent with strong statements negatively equating staying at home with being dependent.” As I stated, being dependent on somebody isn’t about money. We are all dependent on others for some reason or another; I’m dependent on my husband for companionship, on my children for help around the house, on my boss to provide me with a paycheck. However, when I say I don’t want my children to be dependent on somebody else I’m referring to their livelihood. I’m referring to their happiness. I’m referring to their decisions. I don’t want them to be dependent on somebody else to make all the decisions for them and they just be submissive. I expect my children to stand up for themselves and have their own voice.
And for the record, my husband is very independent. He has many friends he’s known his whole life and continues to hang out with to this day. He is an avid football fan who runs a fantasy league every winter. He loves to play softball and plays in a couple of different leagues, several nights a week from April through September. He does bring in a little bit of income doing side jobs, helping people with their computer problems. And he used this opportunity as a stay-at-home dad to go back to college and get his degree. So while my paycheck may be what pays our mortgage, my husband is very much an independent man who makes his own decisions.
You seem to be stuck on this idea that getting an education is the opposite of being a stay-at-home mom. Therefore, when we encourage our children to get an education rather than devote their young adulthood to finding a suitable husband that means we are discouraging them from being a mom. That’s so not the case. It’s not black and white. In reality we are encouraging our children to explore the world, to learn new things, and to find themselves. Then they can decide what they like best. Some women love being stay-at-home moms. Some aren’t cut out for it. But both can be equally capable and loving moms and wives.