I am often mistaken, especially on Twitter, as a “traditionalist” woman attempting to revitalize gender roles to enforce an old-style division of labor in which women exploit and take advantage of male labor, effectively rendering men disposable commodities designed for women’s comfort.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Every single day of my life I am deeply, profoundly grateful for the serendipity that allows my husband and me to have the family and life we do. One of my biggest complaints about feminism and the modern dialogue about family life is that it deliberately discourages both women and men from actively planning for the future they want and so many people end up deeply unhappy when they discover they have not made the choices that allow them to have any practical choices at all. This comes about because we simply do not discuss with our children how things like college majors and job choices will impact family structures and I personally believe that is a deliberate strategy on the part of Marxist feminism in particular to render the family a meaningless unit, incapable of supporting the individuals within, leaving society with no choice but to expand the control and power of the state.
And that pisses me off.
At no point was I ever encouraged to consider how my educational aspirations would affect my choices in life. I was taught, like most of us, to pursue my passions and interests and do what I found interesting and fulfilling. Like most 18 year olds entering college, I thought watching movies was pretty fun and it certainly interested me, so I enrolled in Film Theory. How very clever of me. There are basically three things you can do with a degree in Film Theory
- You can continue on and take a PhD in the subject matter and pray to all the gods that ever existed in the entire history of the universe that you can land an academic job (the odds are not in your favor)
- You can pray to all those same gods that you land a job as a film reviewer (the odds are still not in your favor)
- You can don a green apron and start perfecting your mochawhappachino skills.
I came to my senses after one summer deploying my Barista of Arts summa cum latte degree and enrolled in an MBA program, but I went there still not understanding how my choices would play out and impact my later life choices. I could have taken management accounting which would have been a useful skill, but I found international strategy so much more interesting, so that is where I specialized. Again, how clever of me. Not one person around me was having any discussion of any kind about how these choices would affect the life I wanted for myself and the family I imagined. And even when self-proclaimed feminists are specifically asked to discuss this issue with women, they refuse to do so and turn the conversation back to pantsuits and corner offices. Feminists actively discourage women from making their family plans a priority and they ignore men completely when it comes to this issue.
I lucked out. I met my husband in graduate school and we had shared values and goals that we discussed with one another, almost in hushed tones, as if what we were planning was unspeakable in polite society. “I would like our children raised at home. Would you?”
And so it all played out. My husband makes sufficient income to support us comfortably, – again a stroke of luck and not a deliberate plan. His job allows him to do a significant portion of his work at home, meaning he has been deeply involved in our children’s lives from birth. He is not gone 16 hours a day while I hold the fort and the children barely recognize him.
And that all comes down to luck.
I am not a woman at home, dependent on my husband for my income because I believe that is the right and proper role for women and men. Nonsense. I am here because at no point was I ever encouraged to think about making choices that would allow me to be economically productive while being the wife and mother I wanted to be, so I made stupid choices. There are so many occupations that are more friendly to the family life my husband and I both wanted, but I didn’t make them. I take responsibility for that, but I am also angered and disappointed that we do not encourage men or women to consider their family plans when the time comes to make these decisions.
Here is how I deal with this issue with my own children: when my children express an interest in a particular career or occupation, I encourage them to think about that in terms of a family. When my son says he would like to be a cardiologist, I ask him if he thinks he would like to be married and have children. Would you like to see your children? A cardiologist works long hours and has to deal with emergencies and he will miss many dance recitals and baseball games but he will have a lot of money and do very important work. I do not discourage my children from any interests, but I do ask them to consider how that interest will impact the life they want for themselves.
I do not believe that men and women have set, concrete roles to play in society. I very strongly believe that the ideal way to raise children is at home with a loving parent present, but whether that is mom or dad makes no difference to me. Two parents working alternating schedules so one is always home, a fulltime daddy, a fulltime mommy – what matters is that children are being cared for by a loving parent.
That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning.
The only place I have encountered that is willing to even discuss these issues is the men’s rights movement. The ability to plan and make choices that allow for flexible, non-traditional, non-rigid family roles is deeply tied to men’s rights. Men’s right to choose parenthood is profoundly important. A whoopsie – baby does not necessarily have an impact on a woman’s life or choices because she has choices. And she can impose legal responsibility for those choices on a man, who has no say at all. This has an obviously enormous impact on what choices are open to men who know they can be held legally responsible for children they did not intend and do not want. Lack of reproductive rights severely restricts men’s choices.
The discussion over shared parenting leads directly into the debate about who is the better caregiver for small children – women or men. The answer is very simple: men and women are equally capable of being loving, caring parents. Until men have the legal right to be assumed caregivers for their children, men’s care-giving choices are again severely restricted.
The epidemic of male suicide is linked directly to the emotional vulnerability of men and how we do not have places in society for men to safely and openly discuss the challenges and stresses of their lives. Daddy groups would go a long way towards addressing this need for men to safely and openly discuss their own issues, free from the thought-policing of feminists and in ways that are specific and comfortable to men.
And what happens when men try to gather and speak about these issues? What happens when women and men come together to address how the enforcement of traditional gender roles affects all of us?
Feminists call in bomb threats, pull fire alarms, scream into bullhorns, blow noisemakers and harass and verbally abuse the men and women who have gathered to talk.
Feminists talk big words when it comes to gender roles and gender equality, but the reality is much more like having their cake and eating it, too. Feminism is not interested in having men abandon their traditional roles as stoic, silent providers. They just don’t want women to live up to the inverse of that kind of rigid thinking about gender, but the truth is that traditional gender roles can be suffocating for some people. Traditional gender roles can be chains that bind, for men and women both.
I am not against the traditional division of labor in families. I consider it none of my damn business who gets up when things go bump in the night or who cooks dinner or who kills the spiders. What I do care about is that those roles are not rigidly enforced either through social conditioning or by refusing to discuss the issues that tend to lead to traditional gender roles.
I want them to be choices, carefully considered and freely made. By both men and women.
As it stands, women have far more choices than men because they can legally hold men responsible for their own choices and yet reap the spoils of men’s care and labor through family courts. Given the starkness of men’s choices, is it any wonder they either reject marriage and family completely, or adhere to traditional provider roles where they at least have some chance of surviving the devastation of family breakdown?
No one is served by this situation. Women have taken full advantage of socially engineered freedoms that give them the chance to modify or outright reject traditional feminine roles, or to fully embrace and enjoy those roles. Men have no such freedom. I have yet to meet a feminist willing to discuss how men’s lack of legal rights restricts their choices in a way women would never tolerate.
There is a word for this situation: gynocentrism. Women do not want to perch endlessly on their pedestals, waiting for their knight in shining armor. They want to get on and off the pedestal at will, depending on what they want at any particular time. Men are still expected to be shining knights. They do not get to dismount their steeds and must live to serve women. How the hell is this equality?
I love that my husband supports me and does not require me to earn an income. I love that I have spent a huge part of my life caring for our home, our children, our family. I love that I am allowed to choose what parts of the feminine I wish to embrace. I am also ridiculously fortunate. Lady Luck smiled on me.
That’s unacceptable. As the saying goes, “luck is not a factor”. Or it shouldn’t be.
True freedom, true equality, true choices – they will only come about when men and women have equal rights under the law. Men’s rights will push the conversation about families, children, careers, choices into the open. If women can’t impose legal or social responsibility on men, they will have to start talking to them.
My guess is that lots of men will be more than happy to accept traditional male roles, in exchange for wives who accept traditional female roles. Lots of men will negotiate a balance with their partners that works for everyone.
But there will also be a ton of men who grab the camo diaper bag, kiss their corporate wives good-bye and head to the park for Daddy and Me playday.
And that’s a good thing.
Lots of love,