This is just to say that I understand and appreciate your point of view, and offer you another.
I spent the majority of my early adulthood basically hating women and worrying that I was some sort of weird male chauvinist. After some research and soul searching, I realized that empowerment is my favourite, and I had totally been a closet feminist all that time that I was saying anti-woman things to my friends that are boys like “put away your giant, gaping vagina,” as if there was something disdainful about possessing a vagina. Like the vagina I have.
I’m saying this because there’s an uncomfortable discussion happening on my stupid fb wall based on your article on young mothers. I’m glad to say that instead of out rightly calling you a misogynist like I wanted to, I read all your TC articles to see if I could get more context for what was published, and I totally did, and I’m glad.
Obviously some people are more equal than others, and I’m okay with that. Clearly more women need to have the tangible power that is universally acknowledged and respected. But I don’t know that we need to entirely discredit those who bump their heads on the glass ceiling as they pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
I have the suspicion that your views on women and power are pretty similar to mine: that women shouldn’t wait for empowerment to be allowed to them; women should seize it for themselves and not simply settle for their prescribed gender roles. That we should be bored with what society expects us to be excited about, and reach for more.
Interestingly enough, I’m typing this with a sleeping baby on my chest and an engagement ring on my finger. The baby isn’t mine, I’m a nanny. My fiancé didn’t give me this ring, I inherited it, and when I finally accepted that loving him wasn’t some sort of massive failure to every single one of my values, I surprised him by having it on when I came home from work one night.
I’ve been flouting my gender role and societal expectations of a young black female from a poor family since I was born. I just happened to have a mother that spent all of my life in college, and a grandmother who rearranged her schedule as a nurses’ aid to be the one to shoulder the minutiae of two bratty, snot nosed kids so my mom could make something of herself teaching young adults how to teach small kids instead of raising her own. That was pretty cool of them. And now that I’m older, I can stop resenting my mother for not spending as much time with me as I always wanted her to. And now I help other women raise their children because at least I had a really nourishing foundation with my mother before my brother was born and she went to school. And these mothers have the freedom to go do their jobs. And I feel like I might be contributing something.
As for the ring, there just happens to be a boy that I love dearly and he seems to love me too and together we just about can afford our lives. I totally miss being single sometimes, but he makes me smile involuntarily. I can live with that I guess, until we aren’t happy anymore. That’s what marriage is as far as we are concerned.
Now, my dreams for myself are to learn to live off the land so I can ensure my own food security and be entirely self-sufficent. I grew up in kitchens where women prepared the meals they waned to eat themselves; the men could come home and eat if they wanted to and no one cared if they liked what was on their plates.
The version of feminism and the American Dream that I am seizing for myself is to do whatever I want when I want. I hate going to work but I love to stay at home and eat whatever I want whenever I feel like it. I like to work for my food and know where it comes from. So, for me, digging up the earth and and baking and fermenting what comes out of it is success.
What I’m saying is that there is a surprising amount of power that can be seized from staying at home and making sure you live in the kind of space that you idealize. Perhaps the women we view as weak have realized this in not so many words. Surely it’s not as powerful as running an entire country or company, but maybe they view their families as their share hold, and have exactly as much influence they personally need in the world, turning people into the sort of people they would be happy to respect, and having a home they are proud of.
I just wish it were easier to say what we mean and that everyone tried harder to understand everyone else.