The Retro Feminist may be The Real Feminist
I have a confession to make: I am a woman who is vexed by today’s feminists.
For example, just because Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a “social justice warrior” as one of the most influential Western leaders during one of the most formative times in the modern era, Feministe blog deems that the the Iron Lady was “not a real feminist“.
And it turns out that, like me, many women are also opting out of of “feminism”.
According to a new partnered survey cosponsored by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com, a growing number of women see staying home to raise children (while a partner provides financial support) to be the ideal circumstances of motherhood. Forget the corporate climb; these young mothers have another definition of success: setting work aside to stay home with the kids.
I am a consultant with a home-based business, which allows me to be home when my son is out-of -school. It also permits me to readily adjust my time, so I can run errands for my husband and be available for vacations and other activities without trying to juggle a second work schedule. One of the reasons I chose this career was for the family friendly flexibility, and it is a good match for my clan.
The model for this approach was an article I read many years back, which was a historical analysis that most families had both parents working to manage a business (e.g., bakery, brewery, farm). So, children were exposed to the concepts of work, budgets, time management, and other common sense skills that they needed to learn.
As a result, my son is an avid writer who handles homework, fencing practice, and Boy Scout achievements well. We are still working on his ability to put clothes in the hamper — but I am hopeful.
However, I wouldn’t hold up my example as a template for everyone else; nor would I denigrate a different path chosen by someone else. And here is where my independent-conservative take differs from that of Lisa Miller, a writer who recently interviewed a woman with an advanced degree from a prestigious institution who stays home to raise her two children.
Miller’s New York magazine piece is touted as a fair analysis of educated women who choose to be stay-at-home moms. A few remarks in the lengthy article, entitled the Retro Wife, caught my attention. The reeked of progressive, self-righteous derision at those who take a traditional view of families. For example:
Two of the fastest-growing religious movements in America are Mormonism and Orthodox Judaism, which clearly define gender roles along traditional lines. It’s difficult not to see the appeal—if only as a fleeting fantasy.
Fleeting fantasy? Not only is this statement disrespectful to women of specific religious faiths, but its conclusion that the appeal is “fantasy” is exactly the opposite of what the interviewee reported. In fact, stay-at-home maven Kelly Makino seems to be making an wonderful reality:
Alvin benefits no less from his wife’s domestic reign. Kelly keeps a list of his clothing sizes in her iPhone and, devoted to his cuteness, surprises him regularly with new items, like the dark-washed jeans he was wearing on the day I visited. She tracks down his favorite recipes online, recently discovering one for pineapple fried rice that he remembered from his childhood in Hawaii. A couple of times a month, Kelly suggests that they go to bed early and she soothes his work-stiffened muscles with a therapeutic massage. “I love him so much, I just want to spoil him,” she says.
Then, toward the end of the piece, Miller had the temerity to ask Makino what would happen of her husband left her. Frankly, what sane man would leave a woman with Makino’s affectionate domestic approach? I doubt Makino “wrestles with these questions all the time”: That statement sounds like projection.
However, the aspect that irked me most was how housework was discussed:
Despite their stated position, men still do far less housework than their spouses. In 2011, only 19 percent spent any time during the average day cleaning or doing laundry; among couples with kids younger than 6, men spent just 26 minutes a day doing what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “physical care,” which is to say bathing, feeding, or dressing children.
Taxes, budgets, car-care, home maintenance, and many other chores often fall in the domestic sphere of men. I believe if the typically male household items were included, most arrangements would have more of an even partnership.
I will gladly clean all the toilet bowls all the time to avoid doing the tax paperwork my husband does. He and I are both good with this arrangement.
The Atlantic published a follow-up piece, because of the strong reaction to Miller’s article: This Is (and Is Not) the ‘Retro Wife’. Sadly, a comment regarding Makino’s concern about the New York magazine piece serves as an opportunity for a dig at conservatives:
“My biggest fear, though, is that it will encourage the conservatives and the people who don’t believe in female equality and they’ll use it as fire.”
No. Conservatives are good with people making choices, as long as they are willing to accept the consequences of those choices. And it seems to me that the feminists who see their “gender equity” approaches abandoned by a new generation of women are struggling with this concept.
In her piece, Miller writes has a line that offers insight to the thinking that taints progressive discussions about family roles: “American women are better educated than they’ve ever been, better educated now than men, but they get distracted during their prime earning years by the urge to procreate.”
I didn’t “get distracted” by having my son. I was blessed. And my choices all revolve around that worldview.
So, in rebelling against the transformative goals of feminist activists, we “retro feminists” are the real deal!
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To anyone interested I highly recommend Midge Decter’s book, “An Old Wife’s Tale”. She talks quite a bit about the feminist movement and how she viewed it as it happened, as well as her own conflicting emotions while working and raising three kids during those turbulent years. (She’s Norman Podhoretz’s wife and John Podhoretz’s mother.)
I have never considered myself a feminist. As long as men and women are given equal opportunity under the law I don’t see the point.
Would you have been a suffragette?
Certainly. Once upon a time there were legitimate issues that concerned all women. I respect, and support, what previous generations did to ensure that I’m able to vote and that I have access, under the law, to nearly all of the opportunities that are offered to men.
However, as I said, I don’t see the point in being a feminist now.
I should clarify that I’m speaking as a free American woman, guaranteed equality of opportunity under the law as stated in the US Constitution. If I lived in an oppressive theocracy I would likely feel differently and might call myself a feminist up to the point where I became as free as I am now.
The reason why so many women do not see why so called modern day “feminists” are opposed to real female leaders like Lady PM Margaret Thatcher, let alone Gov. Sarah Palin, of substance and success, is because the leftwing feminist movement is all about their political leftwing agenda- That agenda dictates everything said and done must be in the name of, to further their leftist anti-Family, anti-American, anti-Conservative, anti-Religious cause, instead of representing the truth in defending ALL women’s Rights and Freedom of Choice in the world, which is why they, aka feminists like N.O.W., have no credibility, and or standing within reality- for their biased political actions proves that point.
[…] there seems to be much talk about the new feminism, even the Goddess over at Legal Insurrection had some choice words about this but I think they all have it wrong. When I was growing up, a child […]
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