With so much free time over this past summer (read: no Wheel
), I read a lot of blogs. I love reading these things because even at their worst, when they become a cesspool of rude comments and cyber-angst, they’re still quite useful for entertainment purposes and hilarity’s sake.
That being said, one blog I frequented over the past few months was Lovelyish.com
. The blog seems pretty dumb upon a preliminary glance, but every now and then, you stumble across an interesting post after sifting through tons of mindless ones, like “6 Ways to Wear Orange Without Looking Like a Pumpkin” or “Have You Tried Big Sexy Hair?”
One particular post that really caught my eye this summer was titled, “All I Want is to be a Wife and Mother. So What?” I think the bluntness is what really captured me, but I found the topic interesting as well.
Considering that I’ve had a dream job in mind since I was about five or so (admittedly, that dream job ended up changing from firefighter to something more realistic for me), I was curious, but as soon as I began reading, I found myself quickly overcome with contempt.
I’m not writing this to condemn the author’s choice — after all, my own mother put her “paycheck job” on hold for years so she could raise me — so much as I am to condemn certain mindsets about the obviously gendered roles of being a wife and a mother.
One of the commenters quoted Lois from “Family Guy”: “Feminism is about choice, and I choose to be a wife and mother.” While I agree with the sentiment — personal choices are just that — I do find something seriously wrong with the statement. Lois obviously wasn’t simply referring to her choice to get married and have a child; after all, most women choose to do that. The more appropriate statement here would be, “feminism is about choice, and I choose to be a wife and mother who does not work outside the home.”
The original statement exasperates me because it connotes that being a wife and mother and having a career are mutually exclusive, or that women who work outside the home don’t get to be included under the “wife” and “mother,” at least when no other clauses are added.
But then the very distinction between a “working mother” and a “stay-at-home mother” puts me at unease. When family responsibilities are divided so that one parent acts as the sole “homemaker” and the other acts as the sole “breadwinner,” so to speak, why is it assumed to this day (consider any advertisement for a product like laundry detergent) that it’s the woman who should fulfill the former?
We’ve simply accepted that at the end of the day, it’s still the woman’s responsibility to “pick up the cute little socks off the floor and throw them in the washer” — a 1998 article published in the Washington Post
reveals that even working mothers still spend twice as much time performing household chores as working fathers, and that discrepancy hasn’t closed.
More proof that this remains a gendered issue comes from the findings of many researcher studies that the father’s parental involvement is equally important in a two-sex parent household. Equality again becomes the moral of the story.
Ultimately, I don’t care if a woman chooses not to work outside the home and instead make housework and child-rearing her main priority — just as I wouldn’t care if a man chose to do so. I just don’t see that happening at great numbers any time soon, because certain mindsets about these roles remain prevalent.
Feminism is indeed about choice. But it’s also the freedom from expectations and impositions that come with gender.
Editorials Editor Catherine Cai is a College junior from Atlanta.