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Wrong perspective     

Posted by Katherine Putnam on June 27th, 2012

“You’re looking at this from entirely the wrong perspective. We’re making a statement.”

I use the above quote for the title of my scintillating return to the blogosphere not because I think it is completely applicable to this post, but because I can imagine many, many people telling me that I’m wrong on this topic. Luckily this blog doesn’t have a very far reach, so I doubt this post will garner the backlash that would be found on a more trafficked site.

“We don’t even know what you’re talking about,” you say. “How can we know if we would tell you you’re wrong if we don’t know what you have the potential to be wrong about?”

Excellent point, let me get to my own: I’m tired of feeling judged by feminists. I’m tired of feeling like I have to justify my desires and decisions. Now, these feelings are in part due to feminist discussions and tirades that I’ve seen in various places on the interwebs. A simple solution would be to avoid those sites (I won’t, since I like a lot of the other content they have to offer, and most of it is well balanced), however, that wouldn’t take care of the fact that I feel this judgment from people I know in real life. Not many, but even one is one too many for me.

“You’re still not expressing your point clearly,” you say.

Sorry. Let me try again. I hold a BA in English literature from a private college; my dream is to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling, garden tending, coupon clipping wife and mother of four. Now do you see the problem?

I consider myself a feminist. I believe that women are not in any way inferior to men and should be afforded the same respect and opportunities as a man. I am also a Christian woman who believes that my husband should be the head of our household. Although I may never be able to express it clearly to another person, I honestly don’t have any trouble reconciling my Christian beliefs with my feminist beliefs. My husband respects and seeks my opinion. We work as a team. However, when there needs to be a tie-breaker, I believe that role should go to him; he should make the final decisions. And frankly, that’s not easy for me to do…but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean that I am less in any way.

I am not a fan of the trend wherein every person, action, and interaction (in film, books, television, or in real life) must be mercilessly scrutinized and judged based on rigorous feminist perspective. However, I’m not a fan of the violence, hatred, prejudice, etc that is heaped upon women both in fictional realities and in our own. (Read any of The Mary Sue’s posts on the harrassment faced by female gamers and try to avoid having your head explode with anger and outrage. It’s not easy.) I’m also not a fan of women who uphold unhealthy or dangerously untrue ideologies, who perpetuate the stereotype that women are stupid, weak, or incomplete without a man. (If that were true, I doubt Paul would have lauded the virtues of remaining single. If that is true, then I really feel bad for nuns. Unless Jesus counts as the man that completes them. But I digress.) I am not a fan of women (characters or otherwise) who keep themselves in a helpless, intellectually desolate state and set the feminist movement back to square zero. (See any critique of Twilight, such as the posts at Reasoning With Vampires, if you want a brain-meltingly awful example of what I mean.)

So what am I a fan of, if I’m neither a fan of judgmental feminism nor stupid, helpless, feminism-eroding women? I’m a fan of my personal definition of feminism as stated above: “I believe that women are not in any way inferior to men and should be afforded the same respect and opportunities as a man.”

So why do I feel judged? Because, although the feminists I’ve read and the feminists in my life affirm that I am equal to a man and can do whatever I want, they also tell me that it’s not okay to want to be a wife and mother. It’s especially not okay, in their opinion, to make wifehood and motherhood my top priorities. It’s an even bigger sin to make them the top priorities at the expense of my degree or my career. (What career? I don’t know, but discourse has made it pretty clear that it’s the right choice.) Not to mention the mountain of wrongness that is changing my mind from not wanting children to wanting them. (This seems to be especially heinous to this judgmental offshoot of the feminist community*–that a woman, be it an Elizabeth Bennet, an Emma Woodhouse, or just your average Jane, could ever change her mind about a specific man, about her dreams, or about marriage. She can change from dreaming about marriage or children to dreaming about a career, but not vice versa.)

I’ll try to play devil’s advocate for myself and say that I do understand that there are times when a woman’s prioritization of motherhood or wifehood is problematic or even unhealthy. If, say, a woman is told that motherhood and marriage are her only options in life, then I would hazard to say that there are issues that need addressed. (Whether she should be judged or not is a different issue.) And, yes, I’m fully aware that there are judgmental you-know-whats at the other end of the spectrum to which many feminists are reacting. (I’m looking at you, Sanctimommy.)

My question is, why–if I am aware of all my options–am I not allowed to decide, to choose, to want to be a wife and mother? Who am I hurting? How am I setting feminism back? Why do some feminists allow that I deserve all the opportunities available to a man, yet at the same time deny me the right to choose what is seen as a “traditional” path?

I realize that there are plethora of nuances to this issue that I have not touched upon. Maybe I am completely and utterly wrong. However, I’m exhausted trying to justify my dreams, my decisions, or heck, even a mostly-unrelated-to-this-post-opinion like my all consuming, passionate love for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers to feminists.

To (try to) sum up: I am a feminist. I believe that we should turn a critical eye to culture and strive for a healthy, equal future (nay, present?). I believe that that equality will not be found by refusing to allow that full time motherhood and the prioritization of family is a valid option available to myself and other women. I believe that there is nothing wrong with me deciding, despite having previously held dreams to the contrary, that I want to be a wife and mother. I believe it’s time for feminists to stop judging me for that.


Katherine Elyse

*To be extra, super-duper clear: I don’t believe that the judgmental attitudes about which I complain above are representative of the entire feminist movement, culture, etc. That would be silly of me, especially since I identify as feminist. Apologies for any confusion created by all the times I simply said “feminist” instead of “faction of feminists” or “offshoot of the feminist movement” or some such phrase. Despite what my rambling, imprecise, long-windedly empty writing might suggest, I do enjoy keeping things short and sweet; simply writing “feminist” helped with the shortening and sweetening.

One Response to “Wrong perspective”     

  • sherry kane says:

    Katie Katherine, You do my heart good. The homeschool convention was the place where I found I didn’t have to explain my choice to be a stay at home mom or wonder what was wrong with me that I liked being at home.
    By the way, God and you agree with the concept that men and women are equal but different. Clearly, He designed us to complement one another.
    It makes me sad to watch how our culture went through the 60’s to ” release women from male dominance” and now women are in danger of doing what they despised, which is making men seem inferior. So much of entertainment media tends to make men look stupid. And there are the wives who roll their eyes and act as though their husbands are a bother.
    Finally, thank God we can change our minds. Otherwise, I would not have my children and grandchildren. When I was 23 I asked my ObGyn to sterilize me. What a mercy that he didn’t take me up on it.
    Love you, Aunt Sherry

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