Thursday, April 05, 2012

40 To 40 Day 17: On Feminism and Raising Daughters

I'm not much of an activist. I mean, I get out there and support causes as much as I can, and I'm always out there rooting for the little guy and the underdog. I realized recently that what is more important to me than getting out there and being loud, is spreading information. I first realized this a few years ago. I went to a protest when GW Bush came to visit a business in Mesa. I went to check it out, and I just didn't feel like screaming and yelling like the rest of the people there. I was more about getting audio and video from the people there. Getting their take on things, then spreading the information to others who might not be there. That is my podcast in a nutshell.
Honestly, when people get too extreme in their activism, it's a real turn off for me, and I do a lot of eye-rolling. I love animals, but PETA is too much. I love the environment, but Greenpeace goes over the top. I understand the right of everyone to own a gun, but the NRA is one dangerous organization. On the other hand, I do understand that at times nothing is going to move forward if you don't make a stink about it. This is why it is SO important to be informed on topics and know what you're talking about.

I'm the same way when it comes to feminism. I sometimes wonder if I would have been one of those bra-burning ladies of the late 60's, or even marching along with women who fought for our right to vote in the early 1900's. It was certainly a different time, and rights and equality for women have come a long way. It's certainly not equal yet. We are still paid less on average, treated as less, and what we do with our own bodies is more in jeopardy today than I've seen in my lifetime.

I think a lot of feminism is a crock too. I've been a "stay at home mom" since my younger daughter was born. That's going on 12 years. I have to put it in quotes because basically all that means is I haven't been bringing in a paycheck. We are extremely fortunate to be able to survive on a one-income salary, and Bret works very hard for that. I also know it sucks for him at times, and I try and keep that perspective as much as I can when I'm grumbling about the carpool or making 4 trips back and forth to the school. Or when I get the occasional sad face when I didn't put anything together for dinner and he's home after a very long day and didn't have time for lunch.

Now, some women might read this and think "well he can make his own damn dinner, why do you have to do it?" And that is where I separate from that thinking. It's not putting me back in the 1950's to live this way. I made the choice to stay at home, and that comes with it's own responsibilities, and yep it happens to mirror what was expected of women a generation ago. I did the career thing too. Just before I was pregnant with my first daughter Allison, I went back to school and got my legal assistant degree from a trade school. I worked for a bankruptcy attorney up until I had Samantha. I commend the women who do both- because it's exhausting. But it doesn't make them any more of an independent woman than I am.

It's all about choices, and doing what you think is best for you, or in many cases, what you have to do. No one else but you and your own.

So here I am raising two daughters to the best of my ability. I have no idea if I know what I'm doing, like everyone else I just use my own experiences and beliefs to hopefully give them the tools they need to make it as adults. Sometimes, I go the exact opposite route of what I was raised with. After all, I certainly don't want them to have the family situation I did growing up- and it's safe to say we beat that. I want them to always know they have the power to make their own decisions, and no one has to hold them back. Not even their parents.

It's about choice. I try and raise my girls with choices. For example, not having any religious belief doesn't keep me from explaining belief to them. My older daughter has experienced a few different churches with friends. My younger one has never had the opportunity, but if one of her friends asked her to go along, I would allow it. If she started believing in a God, I would talk to her about why I don't. I would never tell either of them they were wrong. They need to find out on their own, it's not my place to push it on them. Same with politics. I tell them what I think and what I believe, they can decide what they feel is right when they want to.  I figure if they ever want to rebel, they just have to become Christian Conservatives.

It's hard to put your beliefs about things aside when raising your kids, and I don't think we can totally do it. I'd be lying if I said I did. We all think we know what's best for our children. Thing is, I don't think we do. We know what we want for them, but I don't think we can honestly say it's best. What I do know is that there is still a lot of societal pressure for women today, and I don't expect that to change when my girls become adults. All I can do is show them where to go to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to make it in life and be happy.

Hopefully they will look back and see me as a positive in the way I'm parenting.  I'll update you when I do my "60 To 60" series.

1 comment:

spellwight said...

There's no such thing as a perfect parent. Some are better and some are worse than others. I tried to teach my daughter to be independent, that you can WANT a man but you shouldn't put yourself into a position to NEED one. She's smart, CAN be independent and responsible yet chooses differently. All I can do is be supportive whether I agree or not. It's her choice.