Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dear Women

Dear Women,

I have been frustrated. We are all picking at each other--no--tearing at each other's throats. I am guilty of this and I need to stop. You may not think you are doing it, but it happens in the little comments, the big comments, the ignoring, the blog post sharing, etc.

In the past year, I have been reading materials by strong women of different political beliefs: Ann Althouse, Penelope Trunk, Michelle Malkin, and Naomi Wolf. They have been shaping how I think about women and society. Naomi Wolf, in her book from 1991 The Beauty Myth, calls for women to stand united for real equality. Her thesis is that society uses beauty to hold women back from ever being equal with men. Her reasoning and research is compelling. Think about the advertising in magazines. It's make-up, anti-aging products, clothing and dieting fads. Anytime there is something about being happy with your weight, the next page is counter-acted with something from Weight Watchers. 

While Wolf inspires me to stand united with women and encourage them in their own aspirations as mothers, career-ienes, or a combination of both, she accused Jeane Kirkpatrick of being “uninflected by the experiences of the female body.” She isn't walking the walk by openly criticizing female conservatives of not being an authentic "womyn". On the other hand, if I had a dime for every time I heard somebody bash Hilary Clinton for how she looks (we all know the KFC joke), I would be rich. Why are we doing this? Hilary Clinton, though I don't agree with her politically, is a beautiful woman. I think she truly is. By bashing her weight, her hairstyle and her clothes, men and women are disrespecting her. She is an excellent politician, so debate her ideas on policies, not her appearance. The same can be said for the awful criticisms of Sarah Palin

I think Hilary Clinton is a lovely looking lady, same with Sarah Palin, and most other female politicians. When men (and women) bash their appearances, I personally become a bit self-conscious. If these women who are adorned with clothing and jewelry from the top designers in New York and styled by professional make-up and hair artists, how do terrible comments towards these women make the normal woman wearing Gap and Cover Girl feel?

Then there is the topic of blog posts that are shared on the Facebook.

This is a popular stay-at-home-mom post that many of my conservative Christian friends have posted. It is actually inspiring because it shows how you can live on a very tight budget if you put your mind to it. It was written to defend her and her husband's choice and to address criticism they receive from others. However, among stay-at-home-moms, it seems to belittle others who work, even if it is part-time and at home. It's almost as if this "I give my attention 100% of the time to my kids" is the new self-righteousness among mothers. There is this push that being a stay-at-home-mom makes you a better mom than working mothers.

The opposite is true as well. Take a look at this blog post that flamboyantly belittles women who decide to stay at home with their children. Really? It is awful because this person is so narrow-minded, she can't possibly fathom an intelligent woman choosing to raise her children as her lifestyle. I think the comments do a good job of helping the author understand her own short-fallings.

The thing is, these posts hurt women. And they are written by women! Everybody is different, people. Every family has different needs. We all have our own opinions on how children should be raised, but there is no correct way to raise a child. Some women need to work or they will go crazy. Some women need to work because they need to help provide for the family. Some women stay at home because they want to. Some women stay at home because it is the most economically viability for their family (unless you live in Quebec, where childcare is super cheap thanks to high tax rates). We should support women psychologically with their decisions.

I do not have children, yet, but I already am plagued by the decision. I want to work because I like being busy. I want to be able to say yes to tons of playing opportunities if they ever happen up here in the Northwoods, but at the same time, I do not want to subject my hypothetical children to daycare. And we don't have the option of grandparents or parents for free childcare.

I feel bad when I see the blog posts by the super moms who advocate for only staying in, because part of me wants to work. I feel bad when I see blog posts by working moms who say that they can do it all, because I don't want to stick my kids in daycare. If I feel this way, I know that many, many women feel this way as well.

So, let's support each other. Tell women (all: married, single, mothers, grandmothers, childless mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home-mothers, etc.) that they are doing a good job and you support them. Tell them they are beautiful. Do not joke about weight. Do not judge things that really do not affect you at all. Be a shoulder someone can cry on. Be a person who will rejoice with someone's successes, even if it is something that you do not personally deem important.

Let us be united. Living is hard. It is easier walk through this life with friends we can trust.

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