Women, Stop Oppressing Yourselves!

Being a mother isn’t a real job — and the men who run the world know it.

I really like The Atlantic. I feel like it publishes thoughtful, interesting articles on areas that interest me. Which is why when I read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s piece “1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible,” I cringed. Because she’s not just talking about one-percent wives. She’s talking about any woman who chooses to stay home. Or doesn’t she think I can read?

Wurtzel’s point is that feminism is a movement meant to get women into the work force, and that anything else is not only against that aim, it’s also stupid.

In the first paragraph, she says, “Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.”

Okay, so at least we know right off the bat that she’s missing “the whole point,” since “the whole point” of the feminist movement is to give women the freedom to make their own decisions about their own lives. Some women decided that they were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day, and went to work. Hurray! That’s awesome! That doesn’t mean that those who chose otherwise are wrong or against feminism.

If Wurtzel’s stringent definition of “choice” were to be applied to abortion, this is what it would look like: Who can possibly take pro-choice seriously when it allows for everything, as long as women choose it. The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing out babies with out a room or a salary of their own.”

Just like pro-choice doesn’t mean every woman who supports it must have abortions, feminism doesn’t mean every woman who supports it has to work. It’s her choice.

“Let’s please be serious grown-ups,” she says, “real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

Funny, last time I checked, serious grown ups were able to respect the choices of others without condescension.

Oh, and speaking of condescension, here’s a tip: In an article that’s purportedly pro-feminism don’t ever say this. “Men know better.” That’s game over, right there. Opinion invalidated, point missed.

 Wurtzel goes on to say, “If you can’t pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.”

Again, I must disagree. If this were even remotely true, it would mean that 10 years ago when I was getting black out drunk and partying every night, I was a real adult. And now that I’m responsible for two other human beings, and I’m not ruining my body and making bad decisions, I’m back to being a child.

Being an adult boils down to responsibility, not money.

On top of this, even getting married is considered weakness in Wurtzel’s world.

“When it’s come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don’t want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work”

I’ll just be over here, staying at home, and wondering how marriage is easy and obvious. I’ll also tackle how being single is tied in any way to my integrity or independence. This might take me a week or two. After all, I’m just a feeble-minded wife. And privileged. And apparently living in an awesome city.

“To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income.”

I would like to introduce Ms. Wurtzel to…me. Hi, I’m Darlena Cunha. I live in Gainesville, Florida. I am a stay at home mom because the money I would earn for work in my field would not cover the cost of child care for twins. It’s nice to meet you.

And here’s where my thoughtful disagreements end. At the risk of weakening this piece, I have one more response. To this statement:

“…being a mother isn’t really work. Yes, of course, it’s something — actually, it’s something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation) …Which is to say, something becomes a job when you are paid for it — and until then, it’s just a part of life.”

I would like to say, please, go eff yourself. You are the problem, not me. You are the well-educated, highly paid lawyer who just wrote a 1,000-word article shaming women for their choices.

Now, admittedly, on dictionary.com the first definition of job is “a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price.” If one keeps reading, though, she’ll find this definition is also valid, “anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility.”

The definition of work is pretty cut and dry. “Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.”

I’m pretty sure neither education nor money gives someone the right to make up her own definitions of words. Words have meanings. That’s why we can use them so effectively.

 In conclusion, this is wrong.

“Feminism should not be inclusive, and like most terms that are meaningful, it should mean something. It should mean equality.

The point of feminism is to be inclusive, and by including all choices and a woman’s ability to make her own choice for her own “serious grown up” self, we will achieve equality.

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About parentwin

Parent of twins, blogger, writer and journalist. I write things. Sometimes people even read them.
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3 Responses to Women, Stop Oppressing Yourselves!

  1. Janet says:

    Oh my gosh. I love your comments so much and I feel we have a lot in common. I will not read the article you cite because your quotes from it have given me the gist, and enough annoyance for this morning.

    I’m sitting here reminding myself that articles like this one are MEANT to rankle and cause controversy because somehow these days that takes the place of good thoughtful commentary that engages a broad audience. Authors of a certain type now set out to have that one piece that pisses people off and makes the author famous.

    I know as someone who opted NOT to get married (is the author also telling us she’s been proposed to numerous times? “over and over”? LOL.) until I was older I now know why: marriage is not the easy choice and instinctively I knew that when I was single—that I had it easy simply meeting my own needs. As you know, it takes complex maturity and a lot of tenacity to sustain a relationship long-term. Merely making enough money to pay one’s own rent (and party hard—me too!) is super duper easy. Sorry, but its true.

    I would add that being a feminist myself, it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to be financially dependent on my husband, while I take care of all things domestic and our twins (and oh my GOD am I busy, by the way!). But it turns out that’s about my pride and self-image, it does NOT mean it is against the feminist ideals. Unless being a feminist excludes maturation and partnering, which I think the author believes. I admit that my vision of feminism did not necessarily used to include mothering full-time. But then I grew up.

    Feminism is about equality. It absolutely IS about us being able to make any choice we want without being seen as setting back our entire gender. I will be proud to present my current choices to my girls—along with the choices I’ve made to run my own business, buy my own home, learn to use power tools, vote—as evidence that the feminist movement has worked: I’m allowed to make any of these choices now as my life changes gears because I am an empowered individual.

    Too bad the author hangs onto the old-fashioned, rigid definition of a feminist as ONLY a force against tradition. Sorry for the long response, but thank you for your post today! Loved it.

  2. Janet says:

    Okay, I’ve read it after all. Sigh.

  3. learn.grow.imagine.create says:

    Excellent response to her crappy article!!! 🙂

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