By C.B. Radio
I see something frustrating nearly every day on social media. While Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook provide a platform for everyone to speak their mind, it’s often the most unsophisticated arguments that rise to the top.
“This is why I can’t stand feminists in 2018,” reads a Facebook meme recently posted by a friend, featuring a photo of a 1950s housewife with bobbed hair and an apron, smiling while dusting an old TV stand. “Women are shamed for being stay-at-home moms and taking charge of their homes!”
The cooking, cleaning, housekeeping wife is certainly an outdated archetype, but the idea
that there’s an army of feminists shaming homemaking mothers – somehow making things worse for women – is laughable.
Most feminists take no issue with women who stay at home. Indeed, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, getting groceries, cooking: it’s often as (if not more) stressful than a full time job.
Yet, there’s this new notion for our modern times, itself an oversimplified cliche, that women who enjoy being housewives are somehow worthless in the eyes of radical feminists.
Call it successful right-wing propaganda: the hardcore fems won’t be happy until every woman finds herself in the workforce, never taking secretary jobs, all while throwing side-eyed glances at the men they’ll soon replace. Our snowflake feminists won’t rest until there’s a French revolution-style coup. Off with every man’s head!
The problem with this assumption, of course, is that few people actually think like this. At its core, feminism is about equality and freedom. A simple mission statement: women should get equal pay for equal work across the job market, and should also have the ability to choose a career path without facing discrimination – yes, even if that choice is stay-at-home mom.
Why is this miscommunication so prevalent? The primary issue resides with a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism, the result of both PR failure on one end and the resounding success of trolls on the other.
A simple-but-true definition, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Not to sound like a high school term paper, but it’s important to communicate this simply – feminism is about love instead of hate, equality and not exclusion. Every woman and every man deserves an equal shot at equal work and equal pay.
And it’s important to understand that women aren’t paid at the same rate as men, despite what our right-wing trolls will tell you. The common statistic that for equal work, a woman makes 77 cents to every dollar made by a man, while perhaps off by a few cents, has been supported in peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study. And skilled positions are still dominated by men. There are fewer female doctors than male doctors, for example, and more women perform secretarial work than men.
On the flip side of the argument, men should be equally as comfortable staying at home, caring for their kids and breaking their own gender stereotypes which suggest all traditional women’s work is beneath them. Why do we have to think of staying home to take care of the children in terms of “gender roles” anyway? We should instead just call it what it is: finding a balance that works for your family. We need to put a stop to the belief that women are inherently “better” at vacuuming and carpooling and cooking dinner. And parenting, for that matter.
If you dream of being house mom or dad, do it! And don’t be afraid to challenge anyone who says you shouldn’t. You deserve the choice and the freedom to do whatever you want in order to make your life make sense. If your family is lucky enough to not need two incomes, what’s wrong with one of the parents staying home to keep things in order, regardless of which parent it is? And if, by some chance, someone tells you to hang up the towel (or in this case, apron?), assure them that you stand for equality as much as they do. Maybe it’s less important to think of feminism as a spectrum, with radicals on one side and conservatives on the other, as it is to think of it as a mindset: equality for all women, from mommies to marriage counselors, cooks to cleaners, decorators to doctors. Be the person you want to be. I promise, no one worthwhile will judge you.