Am I a feminist if I chose what’s best for me?

I have been feeling alienated from feminism. This has been true for the last six years ever since I had my son. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even call myself a feminist anymore except that I’m lazy and I don’t want to change this blog’s About page. I’ve had in mind a series of posts to talk about this. But first I wanted to give you some back story.

I was raised in a very conservative Catholic home. My parents divided the world into two types. There were the Catholics who practiced the true religion, and everyone else. Everyone else was going to hell. Period. But just being Catholic was not enough. The people they had the most disdain for were the “cafeteria Catholics.” You could always tell who the cafeteria Catholics were because they only had one or two kids as opposed to several. A small family meant birth control, and birth control meant you were going to hell. No matter that you didn’t have the means to support all of the children you were having. It also didn’t matter if you were in an unhappy marriage or had medical difficulties which made pregnancy dangerous. Your own personal circumstances were irrelevant. It was about being faithful to the church.

Now, my son has a saying, “I know that talk!” he’ll say when he recognizes the subtext of a conversation. Like when someone is afraid to do something, and they keep making excuses, he’ll say “I know that talk!”

So I’ve been reading some online discussions on some feminist web sites. And there is a whole lot of derision about “choice” feminism. (read the comments in the featured comment section below the article). Apparently, some feel that the word feminism has been too loosely adopted. Because you know, everyone is just tripping over themselves to call themselves a feminist.

Women who chose to become mothers, chose to leave the workforce and chose to stay home with their kids are apparently a threat to the movement. No matter if these were decisions that made sense for your situation or made you happy. Happiness is not important to the movement. But Ladies, as you cull the feminist herd, I want you to know, I know that talk.

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4 thoughts on “Am I a feminist if I chose what’s best for me?

  1. Ugh… Elizabeth Wurtzel. What a stupid piece. I don’t think feminism is defined by what you do – it’s defined by why and how you do it. One can be a stay-at-home mom for feminist reasons, and un-feminist reasons. Ditto for working outside the home. Sure, I think the ability for women to be economically independent is important. But to say that that’s the only way to be a feminist, in a universe where parenting and being a professional are still often at odds, is crap. I don’t think working outside the home because you have to to support your kids, especially in a job that doesn’t satisfy you, is inherently empowering, and it’s not some great feminist statement to say, “I work a crappy job [not you - not suggesting your job is crappy] because I have to.” And someone who doesn’t do that – doesn’t have to do that – isn’t inherently less feminist.

    Plus, I don’t think Elizabeth Wurtzel hangs out with most of the people I know. I don’t know any stay-at-home moms shopping at Chanel and getting facials at wherever it is. I’m sure they exist. But having a problem with their class privilege shouldn’t be about whether they do or don’t work outside the home.

    • The funny thing about this is I actually DO have a crap job. And I would chose to stay home with my kids if that choice didn’t pretty much guarantee we would lose our condo.

  2. Pingback: Mothers in the Legal Profession No. 258 — Wild Women Do « Today Advocating Tomorrow

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