The Stay-at-Home Feminist

Image from Strawberry Mohawk

Growing up, I thought that being a stay at home mom meant you weren’t a feminist. It meant that you were suppressed. When I heard about the fight for women’s rights in our country, I was outraged. I became more outraged as I heard more about women earning less and getting less promotions. I was convinced I would rise above all that. I would put family last on my long list of things I wanted to accomplish. I would work outside of the home when I had kids long after my career was in place. I would break the barriers. Life obviously had other plans for me.

I think that a lot of people have that same opinion–that stay at home is somehow anti-women’s rights. Every once and a while, I come across a Facebook post from one of my friends saying they feel “so 50’s housewife” because they cleaned the house and had dinner on the table when their husband got home.

We’re told as we grow that we can one day have it all. We can have a career and a family and everything will be happy and hunky-dory. We will be fulfilled from our careers and happy from our children. We can be executives that work 60 hours a week and come home to happy kids and a clean home and even volunteer on the weekends. We’re never told that this is the best case scenario. That if you’re working 60 hours a week, it’s hard to find time to see your children, let alone clean your house or get in some “me” time. I remember being thoroughly insulted when a representative from some school came into my medical anatomy and terminology class in high school and told me that I could possibly be an OBGYN because I wouldn’t actually be into my career until I was 33 and how would I possibly have kids?

Of course I don’t speak from experience, but based on what I’ve heard from other moms, working away from home isn’t exactly a piece of cake. You have all of your deadlines and expectations at work, then you come home to kids who haven’t seen you all day and so they want your attention and a house that needs cleaning. Something’s gotta give.

Back to feminism.

Feminism is about choice. There were days when every woman, by default, had to do what I am doing right now. Staying at home to take care of the kids and clean the house and feed the husband. Those of us who wanted something different weren’t given the option. All of the leaps and bounds we’ve made are so that women can have that option. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work outside of the home. Just as there is nothing wrong with wanting to work inside of the home.

I am lucky to have the choice to work outside of the home, but I’m not working against the cause when I choose to stay at home. I am not somehow a lesser woman. I can still be fulfilled. It is a feminist choice to stay at home, because it is a choice that I am allowed to make.

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