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On "The Feminist Housewife"....

Heather Ross19 Comments


I must admit, I didn’t read the whole thing, I ran out of time because it took me twenty two minutes to convince my 19 month old daughter to let me put on her shoes and then I had to literally run to the subway to make it to a meeting, so maybe somewhere near the end the author stopped to consider the fact that the subject of her story, much like every other woman living within the bounds of this magazine’s domestic subscription service, is a member of the only generation of american women to have ever lived that truly have the luxury of choice between career and full time motherhood, not to mention anything in the ever-expanding grey area that lies between that we might be crazy enough to consider attempting, and I just missed it.

Its an awesome thing to consider, isn’t it? That we actually have that choice? And I don’t know about you, but when you consider that fact it makes listening to someone like this woman prattle on about her adorable husband and giving up her gratifying pre-baby career sound a whole lot like the two women standing behind me at the coffee bar at the Tribeca Whole Foods this morning discussing wether or not they should have to pay their housecleaners extra for doing laundry, and not just because both discussions are incredibly boring.

And the idea that this woman has this luxury of choice, between career and raising their children, because she has an education? If that were true then my husband, who holds several degrees and also has a real knack for managing our toddler, would have a choice too, when the reality, at least for him, is that taking a few years off to raise our children would be career suicide, and would probably also cost him, through the rules of social norms that have applied, unchanged, to men for centuries, many of his friendships.

This woman has this choice, this luxury of a choice, as difficult and decadent as it is, not just because she has a skill or an education, but because of the generations of american women who came before her, because of the rules that they broke and the laws that they challenged and all of the frightening and humbling and brave things that they had to do, so that their daughters would have the freedom - within their society as well as within their own minds -  to choose between two equally righteous paths. How disappointing that this woman, who has "put her children first", is on the cover (in a proud pose that almost completely obscures her child, I might add) when an inspiring story about a loving, committed for life, couple made up of two women, which runs in the same issue, is not. Feminist housewife, indeed. Who here, is the courageous one, bilking the system and blazing a new trail towards equality? Or wait, what's the definition of feminism again? I'm getting confused. I thought it was something about believing in the importance of freedom of choice.

This is not a new or newsworthy debate, it’s one that plays itself out in the mind of every american woman through every phase of her life, and regardless of the side we each choose or the variation or combination of the two paths that we opt to attempt to wrangle on a daily - no, hourly -  basis, it will not be concisely answered by any one of us, regardless of trends. Each of us must do what is best for us, and for our families and our children, and like it or not, we all must choose a side, and then, in the name of good manners if nothing else, we ought to just respect, even support, one another and the decisions we each have made, and shut the hell up about it.