There are many types of millenials. There are many types of feminists. There are even more types of Stay At Home Moms. I happen to be all three of these wrapped up in one, and it is all actually far more complex than even that, but today I’d like to focus a little more on the feminist portion of things, without disregarding the others.
This is easily going to be my most political post to date, but I hope it is more honest than polarizing, and I hope more to be understood than judged. Critiques are certainly welcome, though no guarantees that they will be taken to heart.
Before I became a mom, I was a little wild at heart. I loved adventure, I loved exploring, but most of all I loved my freedom. I rebelled against anything that might impose upon this said freedom, and was at times downright belligerent to any perceived threats to it.
I became then a feminist, who recognized the patriarchal society that I had been raised in, and fought hard against it.
How come my brother can play in the mud, but I’m in a dress, so I can’t walk near it? Why if a boy pushes a girl, it’s because he likes her, but if I defend my friend I’m bossy and mean? Why is it okay for my brother to go out with as many girls as he wants, and be praised for it, whilst I must maintain an image of modesty and purity?
Why is it that I cannot have a few drinks then find my way home at night by myself? Why do we live in a world where if I open the door for my husband, somehow his masculinity is diminished in the eyes of others? Why, if my husband and I work for the same company, must we “share” our 12 week parental leave, making an equal split require that we put our child in daycare at 6 weeks? Yet the expectation is that I will bear the brunt of the responsibility of raising our child, so my husband will spend less time with our son so I can do more?
This doesn’t make sense to me because 1) 6 weeks is not enough time to spend with your newborn and 2) parents should have equal time off to spend at home, not just to bond with their children, but to work together as a unit in raising their child. But I digress, because parental leave I will have to tackle elsewhere lest I write a novella here.
The now infamous Brock Turner Is A RAPIST case brought up a lot of heated discussions about rape culture vs. drinking culture. Both are bad, but both are not equally bad. Rape culture is far worse, and it affects women in the U.S. substantially more than their male counterparts.
I heard way too many “She shouldn’t have gotten so drunk…” and “Well, how drunk was he…?” comments. So much of the narrative suddenly became why young men and women should “be more careful” and not on how rape was too prevalent in our culture.
There are far more preparations for “protect yourself from being raped” than “don’t do or condone the things that contribute to or lead to rape(i.e. (s)he was asking for it, what was (s)he wearing, it’s not like (s)he’s a virgin, etc.)”
I put “(s)” in front of the word “he” there, because I fully acknowledge that young women are not the only victims of rape, but I would also like to acknowledge that there is a reason they are so often perceived as the only victims of this horrible crime. FYI: it’s because the math tells us, of the adult rapes in the U.S. reported, roughly 9 out of 10 rape victims are women.
Consent awareness is something new, that when I was younger we were not taught in Sex Ed. Sex Ed where the girls and boys were separated, because we were 6th graders when the class was given, and then no one spoke of it again through the rest of our adolescence and young adulthood, because our flawed parents with their sometimes extremely limited experiences were meant to teach us the rest of the birds and the bees with precision after that… right.
Still, that I now see young people speaking about the importance of consent, college campuses at orientation discussing the matter, and society as a whole in a nonpartisan manner condemn pre-consent society(positive side effects I believe from tragic events), I have some hope for the future, and furthermore some hope for my son in this future.
While consent is not a completely new idea being introduced in our society, it is now much more prevalent, with people speaking far more openly about it. High profile cases like the Brock Turner Is A RAPIST case seem to have driven the need for it. Brock Turner being a rapist is bad, but that it has brought us closer to a place where we have reached a point of teaching people that mutual consent is not just ideal, but necessary, is a silver lining to a dark cloud. Adversely, it brings us to a place where true gender equality can in fact thrive.
Teaching that consent is paramount from both/all parties is along the lines that we must have this degree of respect for not just ourselves, but others, regardless of sex or gender.
This is one of many things that I will be teaching my son as he grows up, because I’m a part of this generation that has had to see the failings of those who came before us, and will attempt to do and make better for those who come after us.
I have to teach him about the biological and physiological differences between males and females, and how these things put sexes at odds, but that it is most important to respect one another’s spirits, minds, and human rights as equals regardless of these differences.
Then will come a day when I will have to explain to my son why sometimes it may look as if his father and I fit “less than feminist” molds, as we take on roles that do not outwardly look “equal” to society.
It was not because of patriarchal reasoning that I became a stay at home mom, though at times it feels like it is widely accepted or condemned because of it.
I became a stay at home mom because my husband and I decided together that our child’s best caretakers were his parents, and that at least through his first year of life we did not want to entrust his care to others.
Two large factors determined why I became our child’s best option for a primary caregiver: 1) My husband made more money than me. We worked for the same company, but in different departments, however, his role was far more vital to our company’s than mine. 2) Quite frankly, I was just better with our son. This could possibly be biological, physiological, or even evolutionary, but it could also just be in part to our personalities. My husband is a man of many great qualities, but being especially attentive, gentle, and considerate are not his top ones. These are pretty essential to raising a happy, healthy baby in its first years. My husband is of course a wonderful father, and working on it every day, but parenting is sometimes just more natural for some than others.
Currently, our society is not equal in the aspects necessary to claim true gender equality. I am willing to put in the time to change that, through my own actions and through what I teach my son.
I am willing to have quite a bit of faith that, perhaps like me, he will be a part of a generation that will learn from the inevitable mistakes of those who came before him, and work to improve from there. It’s a long road, but just as I see it evolve and get better in my own journey, I have high hopes that it will continue to do so long after I’m gone, with what good I have attempted to leave for those who come after me.