Feminism Is Difficult

So, a few follow-ups. I really think this comment from Allie on the Last Names post encapsulates a lot of things I didn’t think about:

If this thread has shown anything – it’s that it tends to go one direction. A large number of women don’t think it’s a big deal to change their names and a large number of men expect women to change their names. That is a prime example of engrained sexism. Add to it the institutional sexism that makes it easy/cheap for a woman to change her name when getting married and yet difficult/expensive for men to change their names when getting married and that’s where the real issue is. I firmly believe that feminism’s goal to to give us all an equal choice regarding what is best for us as individuals — but clearly there is still work to do. And I don’t mean that every woman should keep her maiden name or every man should take his wife’s name or anything like that. But we should keep having the conversations and keep thinking about what it means or doesn’t mean to us. And we should try to pass on to the next generation that it’s ok for women to change their name or not (should not be expected!) and that it’s also ok for a man to change is name or not (should not be weirdest thing eva!). And clearly the laws that keep sexism de jure need to go!

And then there is the point made on the Sit at the Table post, which I cannot find, so maybe it was in email or twitter, but if you made it, tell me so I can give you credit. It said, simply:

Don’t be fooled. Men have problems too.

Yep. I believe I said something on twitter to the effects of, “WHY DO I HAVE LADY PARTS IT’S SO DIFFICULT BEING A LADY! Except I don’t want man parts (ew).” And then maybe I thought about that scene in Juno where she kept saying “Pork sword pork sword pork sword.”

Where was I?

Oh yes, feminism. Feminism is difficult for both men and women. It’s difficult because it’s not fair that women should take the lion’s share of parenting and housework and identity-changing. It’s not fair that men are essentially robbed of many parenting moments because they have pork swords and shouldn’t want to have family time or change their last names. It is somehow brave and important to neglect your family in favor of your career if you are a man, and it is detrimental and damaging to do so if you’re a woman.

All of this needs to change. We need to change things from the inside. Obviously.

And I don’t really have any answers. I don’t really have any desire to be a president or CEO of anything, not because I have lady parts, but because that’s not me, personally. I do have a desire to work, and to balance my home and family life. I do have a desire to show my children that it doesn’t matter what gender they are, that they can have successful careers AND happy families.

Am I going back on what I said? Can we have it all? I don’t know. I feel like we should TRY. I feel like there should be examples of women who make it work. I certainly don’t want to be one of those women who gives up everything for her husband and children, and then resent them later in life. I also don’t want to work all the time and never see them, and get divorced.

It has been called to my attention many, many times that the bigger female bloggers out there are also newly divorced, single bloggers. That sucks. We should be able to have it all, shouldn’t we? We should be able to live in a society that values family over work, and that values quality of work over gender, and that does not want us to bleed for that quality.

I don’t really have any answers, except to say that I am going to keep trying to juggle everything. I am nowhere near having to balance immeasurable amounts of work with family commitments, but I do juggle, just like everyone else. I feel like the only answer is to keep trying, and to keep talking about it, and to keep telling people that it is important to succeed BECAUSE of family, not IN SPITE of family, to value children as important to our success, to value their upbringing enough to say, “Hell yeah you should work from home, Marissa Mayer, so you don’t have to be away from your baby 14 hours a day and fill six breastmilk bottles and get mastitis just because you’re the CEO.” We need to get to the top while being the women who practice setting boundaries. We need to not take ourselves out of commission because we don’t think we can balance it. We need to trust that someone (or maybe I should say Someone) is going to figure out a way to make this all work together. Because the answer is just too big for a non-capital letter someone like me to figure out on my own.



  1. says

    This might be the best thing I’ve read, not just on your blog, but about the whole issue.

    I struggle when people thing “feminism” means “up with girls! down with boys!” and I’m so happy to read this post and see both sides equally represented.

    I think that women and men should both be able to have the lives they want. If a man wants to work and his wife wants to stay home with the kids and that makes them both happy and everyone is able to eat and be warm, then cool. If they both want to stay home and be with the kids and they’ve figured out a way to do that where they’re both happy and everyone is able to eat, etc, then cool.

    The problem is when an individual follows a path they don’t want to be on just to please someone else. And with this, of course, comes compromise. And compromise is only compromise when there’s communication and all the involved parties get to be honest about what they want.

    It’s a long, hard road and I know that there are lots of societal pressures, but as long as we stay calm, communicate, and are honest with ourselves and our loved ones, we can raise our children and grandchildren in a world where some of these dumb forgone conclusions aren’t necessarily forgone.

  2. says

    I think you might like Anna Quindlen’s latest book….lots of candles, plenty of cake. I think she did the have it all type thing that you want. For me, for now, not working IS having it all because work can suck it. But that’s just me.

  3. says

    That comment on the names truly says nearly all of it.

    You can do the juggling! And so can I.

    Funny, when I chose the URL of “juggle this” I was single and trying to do forty tasks at work at one time. Little did I know that job would seem like a cakewalk compared with “adult life.”

  4. says

    I’m late to the comments on this one, but it surprised me how many people on the original post said their husband felt very strongly that he wanted them to take his name. While everyone’s relationship/experiences/opinions differ, it would really bother me if he asked me to take his name or was upset that I wouldn’t.