Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Job Only Women Can Do

I read this article (very carefully because I know I tend to start out negative towards Republican writers) where a female Republican talks about "war on women" (which has apparently become a term in the US) and selective feminism (although she doesn't call it exactly that).

Side-note: It always feels counter-intuitive for me to capitalize Republican and Democrat, somehow.

Her point is valid, and her final statement a very good one I think. Because what I think her complaints on the concept of war on women come down to, is that there are ignorant people on both sides that use public opinion to attract more power to themselves. Whether of ingenious planning or sheer stupidity, or possible bad research, these people exist in all groups for all causes, and tend to make everyone else look stupid. And hopefully they cancel each other out, cross your heart and kiss your knuckle.

But there's a sentence in there that scratched the blackboard. "But if they cast their ballots for Foust, they’ll be electing a man whose disrespect toward women and the single job only women can do — mothering — is at least as offensive as Limbaugh’s name-calling."

Firstly, what the hell is "the single job only women can do" supposed to mean? What's the job only men can do? Sure there are stuff men do better (like f.ex. heavy lifting), and stuff women do better (like f.ex.lead airline traffic because light voices carry better over radio, apparently), and there are jobs that would be significantly more difficult for either. But that only that gender can do?

And secondly; really? I mean, the word "mothering" itself is reserved a female, but isn't fathering the same concept? Like how waitress and a waiter may have differing titles but the same job. Unless you're talking about the very specific task of giving birth to a child, which "mothering" can also mean, but I don't think that's the job she's referring to.

What the sentence betrays is a tendency I've seen a lot in American attitudes. (Surely not only there, naturally.) This take on "feminism" seems to be about raising the value of "womanly" tasks, rather than the equality of men and women.

Part of me can't help but wonder if this is a very stealthy campaign to make it easier for women in particular to stay home with kids, and in that way draw more women to that specific role, and thus widening the gender gap and increasing inequality, limiting women's options by making one option far superior. Trapping middle-to-lower-class households in a single-choice environment with only one provider; in other words keeping people in their places. Because, and this is what really irks me; that they speak of raising the value of being a stay-at-home-mother, not a stay-at-home-parent. The job and the gender is automatically inseparable. It is the choice of women to stay at home, and women should be respected for it. It disguises itself as fighting for women's rights, while all the while it cements the idea that mothering is, indeed, only for women.

This is not the feminism I am looking for. Not the specific fight for women who care for children or decorate homes. I believe in a world where women can do any non-physically demanding job any man can do, and where the choice of staying home with children should be based on personality and willingness, not sex, gender or income. Where a mother isn't judged first and foremost as a mother, necessarily. People speak of how terrible it is for mothers to abandon their children, while fathers are expected to be reckless in the question; I want equality. I want the job description for the titles "father" and "mother" to describe the exact same position, albeit with personally customizable content, the same way as "waiter" and "waitress" does. Because I believe in men. I believe fathers love their children equally to their mothers. I believe taking a child away from a father is as despicable as taking it away from its mother, and I believe that if we raise men to live in harmony with their emotions instead of alienating them from half of their own humanity they will make wonderful "mothers". I believe I already know several such men, and have had the benefit of growing up with involved fathers around me.

I am adopted. Do I blame my mother more for giving me away? No, of course not. Do I think my mother misses me more? No, of course not. Do I long for knowing my mother more than my father? No, of course not. I have honestly never thought of those things before I constructed the questions just now. And they seem absolutely absurd to me. I carry 50% of the gene setup of both my parents; I know nothing of them so I have no idea of their personalities and therefore whether one would care more than the other, or whether I would like one or the other more. The idea that someone would judge my birth mother for giving me away, in a different way from my birth father, upsets me enormously. It not only force-feeds responsibility to a woman who should not have to carry it, it also insults my father, his dedication, affection and many other things. It is absolutely absurd.

1 comment:

ShadoWolf said...

Word! I like your femenism :)