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Last week I took a vacation day Friday to spend some quality time with my baby girl. I was totally excited about it. Since Monday was a holiday I only worked three days and it felt great. In fact if it were up to me, I'd probably work short or part time weeks all year. I like my job and it's very rewarding, but spending time at home is really nice these days. I miss Jo, especially around Wednesday when the weekend seems kind of distant. Getting out of the house is nice for a few hours but full time work is a little overwhelming.

There's this stereotype about feminists that we all want to RUSH back to work and leave our babies at home just to prove a point and conquer the world and prove our loyalty to the Cause of Career Women. It's a myth that goes along with a few other of my favorites:
  1. Feminists want to force women to work outside of home just to break the norm of mothers being the primary childcare providers.
  2. Feminists have started "mommy wars" between full-time moms and full-time career holders, with each side accusing the other of ruining things for the female sex.
  3. Feminists want women to do it all to prove that they don't need men.
I've never actually met a feminist who believed any of these things, but the backlash movement seems to be spewing the stereotypes like there's no tomorrow. And I still hear women believe it, saying they don't want to be feminists because they want to be moms or don't want all this pressure to have a workaholic career, as if the movement is going to cattle-prod them to work every day.

But the truth is that most women don't work just to drive home a political agenda. Those of us who have jobs are working for the same reason men do: that silly mortgage just keeps being due every month. We like food. The baby needs diapers.

To be honest, the whole job thing isn't really a choice.

So in my life I'm giving feminists the credit for the things they've actually done for me. It's because of them that I have a cool job that I enjoy, and a paycheck that's hefty enough that Marc doesn't need to work days outside the home. It's really nice that we don't have to haul the baby off to daycare every morning. And it's really nice that Marc doesn't have to be the one to support us, because I happen to be the one who's typically made more money. Which is okay! Feminism erased the days where women had to find "providers" to marry, now we can just be in love.

Thousands of women in previous generations fought to get me equal pay and a chance to compete in the non-traditional career that appealed to me. Without those activists, I bet Marc and I would both be working outside the home during the day, and neither of us would like our jobs as much. I might not have gotten six weeks of paid maternity leave, and FMLA might not have been around for me to take more time when I wanted to. I might not have gotten the paid vacation day Friday. I might have had to settle for a job I didn't enjoy as much. And the world of engineering might not have gotten anything I had to offer.

So dear world, don't listen to the bullshit being fed to you by non-feminists about what we believe. We love seeing women staying home to raise their kids, when it works for their families. Just like we love seeing women in successful careers, when it works for their families. You know what, we just like seeing things work out for women. It's true that we do a lot of work on behalf of career women, but that's because their equality depends on society accepting them, not because we love them more. I promise.

Balancing career and family can be overwhelming, because we're human. Feminism makes it better.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
feanelwa
Sep. 12th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Feminism erased the days where women had to find "providers" to marry, now we can just be in love.
Yes yes yes this is a really good sentence.
feanelwa
Sep. 12th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Pretend I closed the italic tag there, ok? I got distracted by stuff outside and forgot.
spacefem
Sep. 12th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
np :)

general rule though... if you double post and your second post looks like a better version of the first, I'll delete the first post (& replies) so no one will ever know...
prosewitch
Sep. 12th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
Well said. And screw the backlash - I've also never met a feminist who believes or spreads all those pernicious ideas, go figure. ;p
dichroic
Sep. 12th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
Times like this are when I miss having a 'Like' or Agree(1) button on LJ. And feanetwa is right; that's a brilliant sentence. My husband knows I don't need him to survive. He's smart enough to realize it's a much better deal for him when I simply *want* to be with him.
spacefem
Sep. 12th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
my husband also thinks he's getting a much better deal.

I could write a whole other entry about how feminism benefits the whole world, not just women... I get so sick of the notion that women can only gain if men lose something. Like what, their "right" to beat their wives? Their etched-in-stone gender roles? It's a load.
rumble_bumble
Sep. 12th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
the idea of women rushing back to work is really old-fashioned isn't it. back in the days when they burned their bras, but nowadays?
i'm still somewhat shocked and impressed that you're back at work after 6 weeks. here in germany it's 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the baby. from what i know you usually stay at home for 3 months at least or 6 if you can and then come back half-time. but then again i'm a teacher and we stay at home for a year with 75% of our income. so i know nothing about the cruel job world outside.

congrats on getting paid them same as men though. we still have too many jobs here where this just isn't true.
spacefem
Sep. 12th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the US is behind in some policies in this area. Even my six paid weeks was just because I work for a nice employer, there's no law that says anyone has to pay you anything.

I hadn't heard of the 75% pay for a year thing, that's pretty cool! Just curious though what do they do if the end of your year comes up and you don't feel like coming back?
metawidget
Sep. 12th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
That's basically how it works in Quebec -- it's 70% for a while and then 55% for a while, but for mothers it can be up to a year. I'm starting 37 weeks of paternity + parental leave tomorrow.
rumble_bumble
Sep. 14th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
i can't believe some employers wouldn't pay you anything! we do get some sort of parent money for one whole year. but that's from the government, not the employer.

what's also great is that you get 2 months more of that parent money if the father also wants to take part in parenting and caring of the baby. so as a mother you can stay at home for a year and then the husband can be at home for 2 months or you can split it up differently and say she stays with the baby for 7 months and he does the same afterwards.
hah, i just read that you're legally allowed to stay at home for 3 years. can that be?

re 75%:
i think the money you get is compared to the money you got one year before the baby was born. so income, then 75% (i found it's actually 67%) and then i think you calculate it from those 67% the second year if you want to extend. it's at least 300 euros though. it reduces the money a lot if you want to stay longer at home. so a lot do the little trick to come back for work for a week and then they have to recalculate and start from the income during that week. so you have all of your 75% (or 67%) again. something like that. it's complicated. i might be able to explain next year when i have to deal with this and take my own time off.

and there's a sibling bonus! ;)

it's beneficial to have babies here i think. but since we're not making enough babies they had to think of something. and everyone's still complaining. we should be thankful.
(Deleted comment)
magnio
Sep. 14th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Great entry! :-)

If you were amazed by the German system of parental leave, how about Scandinavia? In Norway parents get 46 weeks at 100% salary (paid by the government), or 56 weeks at 80%. There is a salary limit a bit above the average salary, so the govt won't pay all my salary - but my employer covers the difference. If your employer is within the public sector, they always do, as well as in many companies (especially big ones).

How they treat this kind of benefits - i.e. if they will pay full salary for parental leave or illness - is a competitive thing these days (Norway was not hit very hard by the financial crisis, and while we have some unemployment, it's mostly shorttime and within groups with low education). I wouldn't consider working for an employer that don't cover this, and luckily I can afford doing that, too.

9 of those weeks are for mum - 3 weeks before birth and 6 after - and 10 are for dad. The remaining 27/37 can be split as the parents desire (the payment rules are the same for mums and dads), so I took 17 weeks (plus 7 weeks vacation from 2009 and 2010) and my husband 29. I am (just barely) the breadwinner in our family, but since we both get full payment it doesn't matter who stays home.

I will probably stay home a bit longer if we get another child if she is breastfed - I could do without managing the pump now, even if I get up to two hours off (paid) per day for nursing/pumping. But we both have flexible employers, so I will probably take a day a week or so in a couple of months. I just want my husband to stay home fulltime as long as I did first so he can feel how boring it was :-)
smittenbyu
Sep. 14th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
great post!

I do find several women making comments about my choice of staying home after work (although they don't realise I can't legally work yet because visa and all; and am not going to put my baby in daycare to continue my volunteer work). In fact several have asked me when I will be heading back to work.

For me feminism is about having the choice of doing what's best for you and not being judged on it.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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