Their step mom is mean, their daughter is a runaway, their wedding is going to be a disaster if Aunt Lorraine attends. Everyone, no matter what, has something that keeps them up at night. And there's a camaraderie in this notion that we're all seeking answers, trying to make the right decisions.
Dr. Laura is my mid-day soap opera, my dirty little secret that I enjoy while doing dishes, running errands and boiling nebulizers. I've tried to quit her, to turn the dial to NPR, to listen to my liberal local radio stations. But like a vice, a drug, everyday I rendezvous with this republican, this judgemental, harsh and morally superior woman.
Politically Dr. L and I could not be more different. I'm a Obama-lovin' democrat and feminist. Yesterday while listening, I was especially struck by a point she made about stay-at-home moms (SAHM's). She said that SAHM's are the most hated people in the world. I was eating lunch in my car about to drive into Beverly Hills to run an errand for my boss, and when she said this, I almost choked on my taco salad.
I am a stay-at-home mom and I have never, not-for-a-second felt hated in my left-coast, liberal-lovin' home of Southern California. So how, how, could I be the most HATED minority, when I've only felt love and support? Shouldn't I be feelin' the hate in Los Angeles where we are all career-driven opportunists?
Dr. Laura read a letter from a dad who praised his wife for staying home with their three children. The good doctor then commented on how some women choose fancy cars or big tv's over quality time with their kids, how these selfish "working" women choose European vacations and keeping up with the Jones' over their children. Hmmm.
Dr. Laura blames feminists for basically all the problems in the world. And she's not alone. I've taken classes in feminist theory and criticism. I'm not just a Gloria Steinem feminist, a bumper sticker feminist, I've read Judith Butler, Germaine Greer, Julia Kristeva, Simone de Beauvoir, Diana Fuss, and Luce Irigaray. And in all of my studies, do you know what I've learned? Feminism is not about man-hating, it's not about being selfish, it's not about putting children second, and it's not about keeping up with the Jones'. True feminism is not even about women being equal to men. Because there is no point in comparing apples to oranges, right? And yes, some of the feminist theory was "way out there" but it had to be. It was challenging a norm and had to challenge those subtleties with extremism. Like the black panthers had to challenge racism, like hippies challenged the war in Vietnam. It couldn't be a gentle transition. It had to be jerky, like an earthquake, a volcano with tectonic plates and magma exploding under the surface of society.
Feminism is essentially about women finding their place, and most importantly finding balance. It is not about making children suffer or about being the "angry wife." Feminism, in it's philosophical form is about women searching for answers, about being an actual human being while playing the role of mother and wife, sister and daughter. Feminism was about breaking the stereotypes so women could just be human beings. Feminism challenged the legality of "domestic abuse," and how by adding the word "domestic," abuse was somehow lessened. Feminism was at it's essence about protecting women and children. It was about strengthening and protecting the family, not about breaking it. And those who say otherwise have never really studied feminist theory.
My female friends are feminists and a lot of them are also stay-at-home moms. Some work a 9-5, some work from home, some are lucky not to work outside the home, some work part-time so they are able to attend soccer and violin lessons. Some have to work from the wee hours until dusk in order to provide for their family. And when I tell these feminist women friends that I work from home and am a SAHM, they always say, "Oh, you're sooo lucky."
I have never, not once felt hated. I've never felt 'less than' because I care for my child full-time. None of my female or male friends have ever questioned my integrity because I make mac n'cheese and do treatments, because I'm a personal assistant instead of pursuing my writing career. No one, not a single woman friend has ever said, "Oh, you JUST stay at home," or "So you don't work, you're just a mom."
Interestingly enough, a lot of my friends who are intelligent, career driven and believe that women can be anything they want, also choose to stay home. In my experience, I've found no correlation between feminism and the judgement or hatred of mothers who choose to stay home with their kids. I was absolutely astounded by the statement that SAHM's are the most hated minority.
So who is doing the hating? Working moms? Not from my perspective. Singletons? No, I have a lot of single friends. Who exactly HATES SAHM's?
Are SAHM's getting killed while picking up their kids from daycare? Are they receiving death threats via email or facebook? Are people spending millions to make "Stay-at-home-moms" an illegal institution? Are religious organizations picketing home of these "rebel moms?" Who in the world HATES SAHM'S?
Here's my answer. I think Dr. Laura is sooooo out of touch with the real world that her paranoia has taken over her ability to think rationally. I think that there is a strange rationale of the majority to feel like they are the minority, to feel persecuted and victimized when they aren't. I don't feel victimized or persecuted as a feminist who chooses to stay home with her child, because I'm not. I don't know of a single person who thinks I'm an idiot for choosing my child over my career.
I will always be a feminist. I believe that women are so amazing that they can be anything, an astronaut, a writer, a president, a mama. And as a mama and woman I know that I am changing the world positively by raising a strong, talented and healthy little girl, probably more so than walking on the moon or ruling the world.
And when Froggy is grown, or spending more time in school than at home... I will fulfill my "selfish" writing desires. I believe that this is the true form of feminism... protecting children, providing love and a foundation of health and success so that someday they will have choices in their life. I don't feel hated. Not for a second. But I do feel patronized, by people like Dr. Laura who choose to manipulate women against each other. We as moms are all in this together. And we're doing the best we can. So stop judging, stop accusing, and just accept the fact that this is a tough job, the toughest job ever and we will prevail. We will prevail.