Feminism stole my dream by Celia Klassen Time for Tea

The first wave of feminism took place in the late nineteenth century. The goal, as it emerged out of urban industrialism and liberal, socialist politics, was to open up opportunities for women. A particular focus was on suffrage – the right to vote. I am not about to give a history lesson on the feminist movement, but a few details will explain my point. Soon, the focus turned from suffrage to broader critiques of patriarchy and the woman’s role as wife and mother.
While I have not studied the movements directly, enough is generally known to say that the result of feminism is that women have the right to vote, are not only allowed to work outside of the home, but are to be treated equally there. In most aspects, women are treated exactly like men.
So my point is this, what if we didn’t all want to be treated like men? And what changes has this treatment brought to society today besides the desired ones.
Ever since I was a toddler, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I wanted to be a mother. I was obsessed with my dolls, and I loved looking after younger kids and playing with them even though I had no siblings of my own. Today, I am happily married and I have four children. Dream complete? Except there is so much more that goes into being a mother than birthing children. Motherhood is about nurturing them, bringing them up to be decent people, teaching them life skills, kissing their “owies”, holding them while they cry. It is hard and it is constant, and I’ll be the first to admit that not every day as a mother is as I imagined it when I was a little girl, nor is every day enjoyable.
Being a wife is more than having a ring on your finger; it’s caring for your spouse and being there for them in good times and bad, sickness and health. That means when the business is failing and they’re breaking apart with stress, the wife has time to talk them through it. I won’t go into the details but there is a sociological theory called the Warm Bath Theory – if you’re interested you can look it up for yourself. It was intended to be a criticism that women comforting their husbands like a warm bath made them happier to continue in bad working conditions. However I see it more as a positive thing. I like the idea of being a soothing presence to my husband, a help mate in everything and a supporter of what he works so hard to achieve. So I’m married, check. I have children, check. How is my dream stolen?
I do not object to women having the vote. But other things that the feminist movement has no doubt accomplished is to dramatically change the way society operates and not necessarily for the better. First of all, there were not enough open job positions for all those women to enter the work place, so more jobs had to be created. Women with children wanted to enter the workplace, so childcare began and has become a massive industry in the USA. Schools encouraged girls to go to college, originally in the aspect of “you can do anything the boys can do” which has had an even bigger impact on society; they want to use their degrees, so they go to work after college, and they “settle down” later. They get married later, and they have children later. This means there appears to be an increase in infertility because women are less likely to get pregnant the older they get. That fuels another industry – fertility. It also means there needs to be an increase in housing, because people stay single longer, and fewer family homes are needed and more smaller places a person can manage while working.
Now comes to what some might call speculation. The general entering of women into the workplace has driven inflation. I’m not saying it’s solely responsible for inflation, but it’s certainly been part of it. To create all those extra jobs and to add industries, there had to be more money. Mothers going to work need to earn enough to pay astronomical childcare costs and still end up with a wage. Over time, it has become expected that the mother will work outside of the home. Even other women will say “what do you do all day” or imply that a stay at home mother is lazy (let me rein in my comments on that for another time!). With the increase of households having two incomes we get people able to afford better things, but we also get those with only one income struggling. The support is not there for women to stay at home, because if you’re struggling for money then you should just go out and work – that is the attitude. The reality is it is very difficult for a family to survive on one wage now. When comparisons are published to show how much better people are off these days they publish “household income”. The reality is that two people have to work in the household to reach a household income, whereas it used to be achieved with one.
Having to work robs women of the chance to stay home if they would like to. It also alters the way people run their lives and the way children are brought up. It makes the world a much busier place. I’m not complaining about working, I actually love my job and I know many do, but what if I’d like gentlemen to open doors for me, be able to earn more for their hard work so I don’t have to work; what if I want to be only a stay at home mother…but feminism made me work?
What are your thoughts? I welcome all feedback to press2@press-times.com.

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