Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Thoughts on Women and Work

The March 2011 Q and A program really got me thinking today.  Not that I haven't thought of it all before.....

During the program, one of the panelists seemed somewhat anti-feminist; at least when you look at it through a narrow definition of feminism.

While the other panelists talked about equal pay and equal opportunity, Janet Albrechston brought up the point that not all women want a big part in the job world. A lot of them want to stay home and be housewives and/or mothers.

Not all women are trying to climb the corporate ladder or become Prime Minister.

Later the panelists and Tony Jones talked about the definition of feminism.

Albrechston said, But feminism should be a broad church and I think one of the problems and why it's not attracting as many new recruits as it should is because it is not a broad church.

To me, feminism is about choice.

It's about allowing and helping women to be the woman they want to be.

Some might aspire to be CEO of a company.

Another might want to work at a daycare centre.

Some might want to be nurses.

Some might want to be doctors.

Some might want to raise children.

Others might want to dedicate their life to gardening and housework.

Women should be welcomed to burn their bras.

They should also be welcomed to wear their bras.

I think it's confusing, though.

There are so many mixed messages.

For me....

I always knew that if I had children, I'd want to be a stay at home mom.

I also had interest in being some type of writer.

I hoped to be successful, but the message I got from my parents was that this was highly unlikely.

So

I needed a back up plan.

I needed to go to college.

I needed an alternate career.

I think the unspoken thing was that I went to college, in pursuit of a career path, not just in case the writing thing didn't work out; I went in case the marriage thing didn't work out.
 
I needed a degree in case the writing didn't work out, and in case I didn't meet a man who could help support me.

I guess it's kind of like insurance.  And like insurance it's very expensive.

If I had to do it over, I think I'd go the job route instead of the career route.

I'd find a job to pay the bills so I could write in the meantime.  Then if I didn't meet a partner in the next few years, maybe then I'd rethink things, go to college, and get a career.

Now that I think it over, though, I was still pursuing a career after I met Tim and while things were very serious between us.

I paid a shitload of money for a Masters Degree in teaching.

It's a bit ridiculous since teachers don't make a shitload of money. Not even close.

So maybe the career path thing wasn't about holding myself up financially. 

Why was I pursuing teaching when I pretty much had in mind that I was going to marry this man and have his babies?  AND that I wanted to stay home and raise those babies?

For some, it's a financial issue.  Definitely.  I'm aware of that.  Both partners need to work so bills can be paid.

That wasn't the case for us. And even if it were, as I said, preschool teachers don't make much money. 

In a way, I think it's this narrow-minded definition of feminism that pushed me down a rather silly path.

It's the idea that to be a whole and worthy human being, I needed a career.

I couldn't just be an aspiring novelist who works as a receptionist while waiting (and hoping) for an agent and sperm producer to enter the story.  

I'm guessing my post will seem very anti-feminist to people.

I don't feel it is, though.

I respect people who want different things than I wanted. Some people want a university degree and a career.  Some women want to have children and they want to keep that career. I respect that, although I know it's very difficult to balance both. 

I'm trying to figure out my point here.

Maybe it's simply the fact that we don't all need to dream of a traditional ladder climbing career that involves getting a university degree.

Ah!  And then there's the fact that some men might not want this either.  Some might want to stay at home and take care of the babies.  What's nice is if they end up partnering up with someone who wants to pursue a career, and who will have to be away from home a lot of the time.  

Well.....

Yeah.

I often say I don't have regrets. 

That idea is more on a metaphysical level.

I believe things happen for a reason.

And if I changed the past, I'd lose a lot of wonderful things in my life.  

But if I could change the past and not lose what I love about my life today.....

I'd skip going to college right after high school.

I'd travel. I'd get one of those work visa things. 

I would have odd jobs in various places around the world.

Who am I kidding?

Let's change it to having odd jobs all around Australia.

I'd work at jobs.

I'd come home and write.

If I didn't get published or meet a man interested in marrying me after a few years; then I'd get some more formal education and start building up my plan B life.  

What about you?

Did you go to university in pursuit of a career?

Did you really want that career; or was it more of an insurance?

Are you in that career now, or has your life taken a different turn? 




5 comments:

HappyOrganist said...

It doesn't seem anti-feminist to me ;)

Kate Sparkles said...

I think I did a bit of both.. I mean I went to university but took a gap year to work at a summer camp in the US (best decision I ever made) and then I back packed Europe, and went back to the states a few times. Which has been amazing, but incredibly dragged out university.. which I will honestly say, was always more about insurance.

I mean, one day I think I would like to teach and the extra money it bring in may be nice, but when we have babies, I hope to stay at home, because PC will earn enough to cover the bills and a mortgage.

I remember in first year uni, me and two other first years were discussing how it was cool we would have a degree, but we weren't entirely sure what we'd do with it, if we ever really wanted a career or not (we were all enrolled in liberal arts) and one of the mature age students went off at us. Screaming that the women of her generation fought and fought only for her to listen to three spoiled 19 year old girls talk about how they were more or less at uni in case they didn't find a suitable husband but all they really wanted to do was bake cakes and raise babies.

She really angered me. Because I never asked her to fight for my rights. But I appreciate that she did it and we told her this. That we appreciate the choice, that I'm glad my friends with no interest in procreating won't feel forced to, that if we don't find someone we truly love we don't have to marry.. we like having the choice. But all of us, we wanted to do the white wedding, baby making, kitchen cleaning thing. Actually I'm lying, I hate cleaning the kitchen so he does it, but if he was at work all day and I wasn't working, I'd do it.

I'm prattling again, but I can agree with a lot of what you have said. I don't think we are anti-feminist, but we were spoiled with choice and and for us, staying at home and nurturing a family was more important, or the better choice. But I think we both appreciate that it's a choice we made ( or hope to make) rather than a lifestyle that was forced upon us.

Dina said...

Happy Organist: Thank you!! How would you personally define feminism? Only answer if you feel like it...of course.

Kate Sparkles: I love the gap year thing. It's not big in America...at least it wasn't when I was young. I didn't hear about it until I started learning about Australia.

I think it's such a great thing to do.

Where was the summer camp?

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Well, I'm guessing you enjoyed it...since you say it ended up being a good decision.

The angry student would make me angry. Actually, just reading about her makes me slightly angry.

Attitudes like that really get on my nerves.

In a way, it's anti-feminism.

It's the idea that traditional female work is worth less than traditionally male work.

I strongly agree with your last paragraph. It's very nice to have a choice.

People worked hard so doors would be open for us. But that doesn't mean we're all going to want to go through those doors.

FruitCake said...

As a slightly older fossil who lived through the feminist thing and did her share of stirring, I personally define feminism about having choices.
Which means of course that if you want to have babies and actually spend time with them then that is wonderful. It means you are doing what you want, and not becoming a mother or staying at home because that is "expected" or the only choice you feel you have.

Nothing much makes me happier than people having children because they want them, because children should be wanted. There are too many children in the world who are resented.

Having said all of that I feel the need to speak up on behalf of the grumpy intolerant old bag who told you off. She's not right to be intolerant and was decidedly rude, but it takes extremists to help bring about change, and the change is usually more moderate and rational than it is extreme.
Your answer was perfect.

It's also good for people to have babies because the world needs to have a next generation. As I haven't pulled my weight in this department I am grateful to you for that as well. And as a cake lover who can't cook I'm more grateful than you'll ever know.

You don't HAVE to have it all or do it all, but you should be able to do as much as you want to if the options are there, or as little as you want.

HappyOrganist said...

Dina - I'm with you in that ragging on a woman for wanting to have kids is anti-feminist.

Also think Fruitcake brings up a valid point about extremists being necessary for change. I don't like saying that - and honestly I hadn't really thought of it that way before - but she raises a valid argument. Or valid defense, as it were =D