Discussing feminism with friends/family - your sticking points?

(74 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 17:58:37

I wondered how you find it when you end up discussing feminism with friends/family, and if you reckon you've changed how you debate as a result of feminism (ok, I know some posters have been feminists for decades, but I'd still be interested to know if you reckon you've changed your style of talking to people as a result of anything to do with feminism).

Two things got me thinking. One was talking to my mum. I was mentioning how several friends who've recently got married/into long-term relationships seem to have changed their feminist principles quite noticably, eg., a mate who used to be adamant that for her, not changing her name was important, has changed her name, and another who wanted to finish her degree is now unsure because her DP wants a baby and she's tempted too. Obviously these are individual decisions and I get why people make them, but I'm interested in the fact that quite a lot of women I know are making decisions all in the same 'direction', towards what you might call a traditional married-woman lifestyle.

My mum's constant refrain was 'oh, but don't say anything to her!' - No, mum, I wasn't planning to. 'But you mustn't say anything, it's her decision!'

She doesn't seem to get that I might be interested in these things as social trends, rather than decisions someone I know has made. I ended up being puzzled that we were talking so much cross-purposes.

The other thing is talking to an old friend whom I've not spoken to for a while, I realized I was do a lot of saying 'I don't agree, but that's fine' rather than pretending I did agree or feeling I had a responsibility to explain my point of view instead of just stating it and moving on. I'm not sure if this is influenced by feminism but I'd like to think so!

HalloweenNameChange Tue 04-Dec-12 19:16:12

In the past couple of years I have become quite lets see.. proud isn't the right word..more like unashamed of my feminism. I am much more honest about why I am saying what I am saying.. and i will refer to my self as a feminist as though it is obvious that I would be.. I used to believe myself to be a feminist but be quite embarrassed about calling myself one.. So I used to avoid debates that involves "lesser feminist issues" like the page 3 thing.. I would only discuss obvious human rights violations (FGM and the burqua) as those are "ok" to talk about and for the most part unlikely to alienate anyone I know personally. Things that could affect women where I live and things that are perpetrated by the patriarchy that we actually live under I would avoid..as that would be calling out my male friends/family.

GalaxyDisaster Tue 04-Dec-12 20:24:28

I think having two daughters has changed me as a feminist. I used to be generally quite feminist, but having children spurred me on to read more, and prompts me to pick up on more day to day sexism.

I find myself trying to find lots of non confrontational ways to say I don't agree. I don't always want a 'feminist debate', but I'm not willing to let things slide as a I would have in the past. So, for example, a woman whose son charged into my daughter at toddler group said "I'm sorry, he's such a boy" and I said "Oh, it's not, my daughter is just the same" and laughed. So we didn't have to talk about it further, but I didn't just smile and nod IYSWIM.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 23:45:04

That strikes a chord with me too halloween. I have got much more inclined simply to say, yes, I am a feminist and yes, this does inform what I say. I'm part of a group, not just an individual.

galazy - I know what you mean! I don't have that experience but it reminded me of when someone said 'oh, she's such a tomboy' about my niece - I didn't argue but I just said 'she certainly loves cars' rather than agreeing she was a tomboy. And when people comment that her mum dresses her in green and blue I just say how those colours suit her (they do! And her mum knows exactly what she is doing! As does her dad who also chooses her clothes ... grin).

MrsClown1 Wed 05-Dec-12 19:22:03

I am so ashamed to tell you this but I never discuss feminism with anyone unless I am at a fem meeting/march. I feel alienated at work because of my opinions and have almost been told to shut up. I know I dont fit in. So I have given in and keep my mouth shut now and dont really get involved in any conversations unless they are about work. My close friends are a different matter. They may not feel my passion but they understand how I must feel and appreciate my opinions. One of them even went on the Sheffield RTN with my just out of interest. She said it certainly opened her eyes and would love to go on other marches Im sure. I was really proud to take her - I wanted to show her what a lovely bunch of women she would meet and she did. Sorry to go off on a tangent but I just wanted to get that off my chest.

DoingItOntheRoofTopWithSanta Wed 05-Dec-12 19:27:59

Oh that's so sad you feel that way msclown sad it is shit when you can't even feel angry that you're being treated badly.

MrsClown1 Wed 05-Dec-12 19:31:07

Thanks for that doingit - thats why these boards are so important - they keep me a bit sane!

namechangeguy Thu 06-Dec-12 10:39:43

We discuss politics a fair bit at work. Since being on here, I have introduced various aspects of stuff I have read on here into the chats. It's surprising how many women are either unaware, or shy away from feminism as a movement. It appears to have an image problem - not so much with issues such as equal pay, equal rights etc., but more to do with identifying oneself as a feminist, and the negative connotations that has.

ThinkAboutItOnBoxingDay Thu 06-Dec-12 10:56:52

I've defined myself as a feminist for 20 years and am only 37. I've always been quite strident with my views and tend to spend time with people who agree.

Since having DD I have become even more vocal in a general population sense but on a one to one basis I find myself friends with a lot of people less inclined to feminism. Baby groups etc. I am finding it tricky to be honest. I'm doing a nanny share and the other mum said she wanted someone older who wouldn't go on mat leave! I was inwardly horrified but outwardly stayed calm and just said 'I'm a bit more inclined to sisterhood. If my company felt like that my career would have been stuffed!'

So I have definitely mellowed. Time was I'd have really taken her to task for it.

FrothyDragon Thu 06-Dec-12 11:52:03

I tend to find that when I discuss feminism with my parents, I don't explicitly tell them it's feminism. That way, I get them on side a little easier. My mum in particular, despite a misogynistic streak, does have some strong feminist qualities, but won't identify as such.

That said, I focus mainly on domestic violence on a lot of things. And I've found (as those who know me through my RL id have noticed) that I do tend to get a lot of support for what my mum jokingly calls "getting on my soapbox". She pokes fun at it, a little. But she also commends everything she's aware of me doing.

I do find myself toning down my feminism slightly around my brother and his family (there's no point, it won't get through to them) but will stand my ground when they try to say that allowing DS to wear pink wellies/nail varnish/play with dolls means he'll turn out gay or opting for a sex change. That said, it's sunk in with DS. My darling brother tried telling DS that boys were better than girls the other day. To which DS replied, without thinking "No, everyone's equal". DB was too shocked to say owt else. grin

LRDtheFeministDude Thu 06-Dec-12 12:23:23

MrsClown - oh, gosh, I certainly didn't mean to imply you should be discussing feminism or feeling guilty if you're not in a position to!

There are people with whom I'd never discuss it because it would be just far too much like bashing my head against a brick wall. It's not always worth it IMO. It is shite that you're feeling like this at work though. angry

frothy - I do that! Especially with my dad - I will just describe a situation rather than saying it's a feminist issue. I hadn't thought about it before.

I love your DS. grin

WilsonFrickett Thu 06-Dec-12 13:40:31

I have to keep things really simple and clear for my DS (SN) but it's really changed the way I talk about feminism. I don't label or over explain any more, I just say 'no, that's wrong, I don't agree.' Whereas before it would have been 'well, a more feminist point of view would maybe be...'

I find I apologise less and state more clearly.

notcitrus Thu 06-Dec-12 14:03:08

My friends, no problem, as they'd all sign up to feminism anyway - we can then argue about whether things are consistent or supportive of feminism or the common good for hours.

With my parents I tend not to mention any -ism as they are very anti following any ideology, but in practice are fairly supportive of feminism. I remember my dad was a bit put out that I was planning on keeping my surname, worrying about how he could explain that to his colleagues. I pointed out that the name (his!) would die out if I didn't. What a good idea, he said! By the time I got hitched he was telling everyone 'of course' I was keeping my own name...

One of my best friends did marry another friend who is incredibly socially conservative - I take the piss out of him to an extent but figure it's better to remain friendly and expose him to a non-scary intro to feminism etc, rather than ditch him and leave no-one challenging his views. And whenever he isn't in the room I challenge their kids when they come out with stuff like 'I can't use the pink toy, I'm a boy'.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 06-Dec-12 16:30:25

Oh I try and avoid talking about feminism to most of the people I know.

Not worth the paperwork, Doreen.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 07-Dec-12 11:25:00

Yay for mini-Dragon.

MmBovary Sun 09-Dec-12 14:28:04

My experience is that in my twenties or early thirties, I could talk to many of my friends about feminist issues, and we would mostly agree on issues like chaning your name, the necessity of have your identity defined by having a man in your life, how patriarchal the message of big church weddings was, how awful to have to be financially dependent on men was etc etc.

However, as the years went by, I found those same friends changing their names, going for the big white wedding, becoming financially dependant on their banker husbands etc etc., in one word, having their identities completely defined by their marital status.

At first, I was shocked and quite angry that their feminist stances could be so feeble, but now I don't even bother to talk about these issues any more. I always feel that you end up being looked upon as the weird one, the one with a chip on their shoulder. Why disturb the peace? If they're happy with the situation and they chose it, I guess that's the end of the debate.

I do find it worrying though, that feminism seems to be the "philosophy of choice" of young women when they haven't found their men yet. Once they've found "the one", got into a relationship and married, feminism doen't hold any appeal to them anymore.

Very disappointing.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 09-Dec-12 17:30:33

Aren't we all a bit more idealistic when young, MmB? They may come back to feminism after children, esp if they have DDs.

TerrariaMum Mon 10-Dec-12 08:58:23

Just to reassure you that we don't all lose our feminism upon marriage , MmBovary. I want to say that I found my feminism once I had DD. And through discovering through this board that one can be a SAHM and a feminist. So some of us actually come to it once we marry and have children.

Or what Doctrine said.

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 10:49:01

Terraria, please explain how can you be a SAHM and a feminist? You're completely dependant on your husband for survival. Where's the equality and the independence? To me, the two are completely incompatible. It's like saying I'm a Christian atheist.

Feminism requires a level of commitment and life style choices that now I realise are very hard, and that most women are not able or willing to achieve. It's easy to do the talk, but not walk the walk.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 11:03:53

'Feminism requires a level of commitment and life style choices.....'

And there was me thinking it was just another political philosophy. It sounds more like a religion.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 11:08:40

MmB, I strongly disagree with you. A SAHM can absolutely be a feminist.

Children require care and nurture full time for many years. Our options are: one or both parents do it, a relative does it, someone else is paid to do it, or some combination of the above.

SAHM-hood is loaded because of the history but it is always going to be a factor because of the above limit of options (it would be great if there were as many SAHDs as SAHMs, though).

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 11:17:47

namechange, feminism is a political philosophy, but why call yourself something that you are not preaching with your example?

Do what you want with your life, just don't deceive yourself and others.

Once again, it's easy to do the talk and philosophise and moralise, hard to live your life by your beliefs.

There are many Christians out there who do exactly the same. They go to church and when they come out, they do as they please, without any regard for the doctrine they so much advocate.

Just don't claim adherence to that philosophy or religion if you're not going to follow it. As simple as that.

MoomieAndFreddie Mon 10-Dec-12 11:22:45

oh god i had an ACTUAL argument with a friend the other day as she was giggling about how men are just not as Good at xmas shopping / cooking / cleaning / childcare as women

i was absolutely angry and really had to curb myself

i am sure some of my friends think i am some kind of nutty man hater

the worst thing is, before discovering mumsnet i would have had the same opinions as my friends sad

so am watching thread with interest.

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 11:25:42

Doctrine, you're very welcome to strongly disagree.

Just provide a logical explanation of how you can be financially dependant on a man and follow a philosophy that fights for women's independence and liberation from patriarchal values.

I've thought about this one a lot, a to me, it's just not possible to combine both.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 11:32:16

What happens when cold, hard economics come into the equation though? If one partner can significantly out-earn the other, and they both want children, it is common sense for the lower earner to be the SAH parent. If that is the woman, are you seriously going to criticise her? Do you sacrifice better finances purely so your feminist conscience is eased?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 11:42:36


MmB, just provide me with an explanation of how childcare can be achieved without using one of my above options, and what should be done if there are no willing relatives and paid childcare is unaffordable for the couple.

Full time childcare for two DC would cost me and DH something like £29k p.a. from taxed income. That's a decently paid job.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 11:47:41

Childcare is prohibitively expensive in the UK. Also, I'd rather bring up my own children than give that responsibility to someone I don't know.

One of the more interesting strands of feminism I have discovered recently is the group who don't like and/or don't want children. Is that where you are coming from, MmB?

MariaMandarin Mon 10-Dec-12 12:02:49

Of course you can be a SAHM and a feminist. My partner is female too so although we made that decision for the same reasons as other posters here, I'm not relying on a man at all. Not really an answer for everyone, I know smile

Just this weekend dp had quite a shirty exchange with her dm. Christmas presents arrived from her brother's family abroad, and horror of horrors, from the handwriting dm could tell that db and not his wife had wrapped and posted them. This was evidence that his wife was not looking after him properly. The discussion about this was rather heated.

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 12:39:59

This thread is turning into a playground clique feeling attacked and fighting back. However, a coherent logical explanation hasn't been given to me so far.

Maybe that explains why feminism as a movement carries the seeds of its own failure with it.

EleanorGiftbasket Mon 10-Dec-12 13:00:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 13:07:33

MmB, you are right inasmuch as you should practice the principles that you preach. The problem occurs when those principles are so rigid as to exclude the majority of the people that they are meant to be helping.

I do agree with your last statement too, with one caveat - strident feminism is doomed because, like a religion, it has no room for discussion or disagreement. Like George W said, if you are not with us, you are against us. And we all know what a smart cookie he was!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 13:22:55

What is incoherent or illogical about pointing out the economic cost of childcare?

GalaxyDisaster Mon 10-Dec-12 13:29:51

I am a feminist. I am currently a SAHM. It is short sighted to say that I am 'dependent on my husband for survival' IMO. In fact, DH and I were having a conversation last night about how I needed life insurance of a level pretty similar to his - because if I died, buying in those services so he could continue to work. Or indeed to fund him working less.

Also, my status has not always been the case. And will not always be the case. WE have both worked, worked part time, etc. At this point in time DH is contributing to the family financially and I am contributing in childcare and other home aspects.

MariaMandarin Mon 10-Dec-12 13:37:30

I think the SAHM thing is a bit of a red herring. Somebody has to raise children and there are good arguments for it being the child's parent.

The real issue is why women are still earning less than men, meaning it is almost always women who stop work. And also that working practices just don't support families with children. It would be good if both parents could work flexibly to fit in with other commitments, but well paid jobs usually demand full time hours, meaning it comes down to a choice of work or don't work.

MariaMandarin Mon 10-Dec-12 13:41:04

Good point Galaxy about the economic value of childcare. Nannies earn a reasonable salary. Having been a nanny I have to say it is pretty demeaning to have that work dismissed by people who feel childcare is a waste of their time and talents.

LoopsInHoops Mon 10-Dec-12 13:57:28

I absolutely agree that you can be a SAHM and a feminist. Someone needs to take care of children.

Feminism is the belief that women and men should be allowed equal opportunities. I chose to be SAHM for a couple of years and was very glad to do so. In that time I focused on my child and on myself - my academic and political passions.

Now, DH is a SAHD. Nothing has changed philosophically. Just I got a job when he lost his. confused

Sometimes the extreme view muddies the water and detracts from the cause. It does no-one, lest of all the general feminist movement, any favours if it is perceived as a stringent doctrine. Opportunity and choice. smile

EleanorGiftbasket Mon 10-Dec-12 13:59:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

snowshapes Mon 10-Dec-12 14:06:56

>>Childcare is prohibitively expensive in the UK. Also, I'd rather bring up my own children than give that responsibility to someone I don't know.<<

I think to be able to bring up your own children, you do have to rely on someone else financially, or have a substantial private income, so this is not an option for very many people. I do hope, NCG, that you share the care 50/50 with the mother of your children, or you are a SAHD, if you want to make statements like that.

To the question of whether you can be a SAHM and a feminist, of course you can. One of the founding tenets of feminism was maternalism, which was advocating and fighting for the recognition and value of women's social role as mothers. The fact that being a SAHM makes you financially dependent on a man is a reflection of how society is organised, not the intrinsic value of the role. It is perfectly feminist to argue that the circumstances of women's lives are different from men's (in so far as women have children).

Also, the economy would not run if it was not for the unpaid hours which carers (mainly women) put in, many men could not advice professionally if they did not have a woman at home looking after the children etc. Somebody needs to do it. The feminist point is not to question the task or the role, but to question its lack of value and why it is usually women who do it (the two points being linked).

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 14:26:06

When they were first born, my wife stayed at home to look after our kids. It was an economic decision. I was more highly qualified than her, and earned more money. If that had been reversed, I would have stayed at home. I did my share whenever possible - feeding, changing, being puked on grin - I would not have missed a second of it. They were our children, not hers, and she is a fantastic parent. I hope she thinks the same of me. Looking down on people because they decide to stay at home and bring up their own children is ridiculous.

My feminist views haven't changed much in 40 years. I'm now 54, but I find myself alone these days among friends. I'm the only person I know who stuck to it and didn't change her name. I work with colleagues whose views are from the dark ages and I have to be very diplomatic.
DH has always supported my choices but with the DCs his tendency to play devil's advocate in every discussion has, I think, led them to misunderstand some of his opinions.
DS2 at 14 is also at the age where he likes to promote the opposite opinion to that which he perceives to be mine. Some of the things he says I am shock until I see a cheeky grin and realise he has been trying to provoke.

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 15:07:05

Choices aren't necessarily feminist just because a woman makes them! It's a big mistake to confuse feminism with choice. That's the problem these days.

Can you be a feminist lap dancer? To me, that can't be possible.
Can you be a feminist escort? No way.

Feminism is about choice but only those choices that promote real equality, and independence of thought and action for women. Being stuck at home for years, depending on the income a male brings home is not a feminist choice, it's a big kick backwards to feminism.

It's not about "feeling equal", it's about doing the numbers, like all men do at the end of the day.

I'm all for women choosing, but I do have an issue with those women who make anti feminist choices and call themselves feminists because it's "a choice made by a woman".

If being stuck at home for years was such a great job, there would be men demonstrating outside Westminster to do it. The reality is that most of them avoid it like the plague, even those who earn a lot less than their wives. So don't tell me it's always a financial choice.

The issue of expensive childcare should definitely be tackled and that is certainly something feminism is committed to doing.

GalaxyDisaster Mon 10-Dec-12 15:12:36

I agree with you about choice feminism. I agree that societal pressures often result in the woman being the one who stays home. Issues like women's lack of pension provision because of years out of the workforce or derailed careers are big issues.

I don't agree that staying home for some period is inherently unfeminist and I would consider that you are taking a very materialistic view of family life. My DH doesn't 'do the numbers' at the end of the month. It isn't 'his' money. He hasn't 'earned' it. We as a family have earned it (though as I mentioned above, I do recognise the pension issue).

By your reckoning one could be a feminist working in a nursery as a carer, but not staying at home with one's own child. Because one creates material wealth. I am sorry, but I think that is misguided and, quite frankly, bollocks.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 15:26:40

If lap dancing or escorting was eradicated, the world wouldn't stop.

It's not an option to eradicate childcare.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 15:31:55

I could not have earned the money I did if my wife had not stayed at home to bring up our children. Therefore, she earned it too. So she wasn't 'kept' - she did as much as me to earn that salary. It's ironic that you place so much emphasis on material earnings, when this is one of the biggest flaws within the so-called patriarchal system you hate.

MmBovary Mon 10-Dec-12 15:37:28

Namechage, you're a vivid example that the kind of men feminist forums attract are never the brightest in the pack.

I know why that is, because the brightest ones are in the City, sitting in their big cat chairs, earning big money to suppor their feminist wives at home. Making the whole capitalist machinery move on and on.

snowshapes Mon 10-Dec-12 15:38:47

>>Feminism is about choice but only those choices that promote real equality, and independence of thought and action for women. Being stuck at home for years, depending on the income a male brings home is not a feminist choice, it's a big kick backwards to feminism.<<

that misses the point, though, someone needs to have children, someone needs to look after children, and for biological reasons, it is women who take a career break of however long, even if only a Xenia like 2 weeks, to have children. That break and what women do in that break, have and look after children, should be valued.

It is inherently unfeminist, I would have thought, to suggest that women should erase all difference with men to be seen as equal, rather than looking at what both sexes can do to minimise the financial imbalance which having children causes, whether that is through a proper child allowance system or by more men taking on more roles at home.

NCG, I think my point was that it is unhelpful to make statements about not wanting children to be brought up by 'strangers' when many women, and indeed men, do not have a choice if they wish to remain solvent.

namechangeguy Mon 10-Dec-12 15:40:53

Insults are the last resort of someone who has lost an argument. You carry on alienating women all around you. See how far that gets your cause.

GalaxyDisaster Mon 10-Dec-12 15:41:47

Insulting the intelligence of someone just because they disagree with you. That's constructive hmm

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 15:51:51

Wow, MmB. Did you just say that only men who are not the brightest in the pack are on feminist forums? Is that a point about forums or about feminism that you are trying to make?

snowshapes Mon 10-Dec-12 15:53:57

>>I know why that is, because the brightest ones are in the City, sitting in their big cat chairs, earning big money to suppor their feminist wives at home. Making the whole capitalist machinery move on and on.<<

Whereas both parents working slows it down?? That makes no sense. Both parents in the City, or wherever, capitulates to capitalism even more, unless they are on a job share.

EleanorGiftbasket Mon 10-Dec-12 16:20:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Is mmbovary a troll? Or just a spanner?

Oh wow. Not a troll! Shocked someone who calls themselves a feminist is so hateful about a huge number of women.

FestiviaBlueberry Mon 10-Dec-12 21:37:18

MmBovary, have you changed your name from Xenia?

If you don't know how you can be a feminist and a SAHM, then I'm afraid you just haven't done the reading.

Some people might have the energy to bother to educate you. I haven't, I just advise you to do a bit more reading of feminist texts. Happy Christmas.

MmBovary Tue 11-Dec-12 10:26:07

Mm Bovary is not a troll or a spanner. It’s just a normal woman who is married and has children and has made certain choices in life – that are not easy, as they never are – based on what she believes.

She believes than “choosing my choice” is not always a positive contribution to feminism and its cause. But mainly, she believes that staying at home for years on end is not a positive contribution to the position of women in our society as a whole. She believes that these personal choices women make have an impact on a broader scale and that’s why we have to be so careful when we make them.

She also believes that whatever our choices are, we should be prepared to be criticised for them, and react to that criticism like adults, not children. I also criticise some men for their choices, for staying at work all day and not looking after their children, for expecting their wives or a female cleaner to do the cooking or the hovering. For not being prepared to change the rules of the workplace so as to be allowed to be present in other areas of life.

I’m not in this forum to make friends or talk about cup cake baking, I’m here to ask questions, to give reasons why I think in a particular way, why I think that your personal, private choices are very important, and why you shouldn’t call yourself something that you are not prepared to live by.

Stepford wives’ feminism is just not appealing to me, certainly not a choice for me either. I think it’s weak and the arguments put forward in this discussion so far is just a sad proof of that.

snowshapes Tue 11-Dec-12 11:37:24

One of the main things I have always struggled with as a feminist is the tension between difference (the recognition that women have different needs as mothers; which has informed campaigns for proper maternity care, maternity leave, the right to breastfeed in public, family allowances, wages for domestic work etc) and the fight for equality, which has traditionally been seen as women gaining equal access to what has historically been seen as the male sphere, through things like equal pay and equal opportunities acts.

My problem with this is that in practice, women have had to adopt traditionally 'male' patterns of work and find someone else to do the childcare and domestic work (or else take on the dual burden, as in practice most men don't do their share). So, I think, rather than direct one's ire at SAHM's, who often make the decision for pragmatic economic, social reasons, I would question the social structures which reinforce gendered social norms, and, as you say, the men who don't question or try to change the culture they (predominantly) shape.

I agree with MmBovary to the extent that one parent at home, the other working silly hours is not in anybody's interests, not least because it leaves the SAHP vulnerable and does nothing to challenge ingrained social norms, but the fact is that with prohibitive childcare costs and the cost of living, for many people, once you have got more than one child, it is just not possible to remain in the workplace - because let's face it, two parents working full-time is stressful, there is not enough time really for the children, and it seems easier to reduce the stress. Plus, two parents working flat out does nothing to change working culture.

What one wants is a pattern where both parents work less than full-time, the domestic chores are fully shared, and both parents can contribute to things like taking children to dentists, doctors, covering sick days etc. In practice, what you get is people doing the best they can one way or the other, and I wouldn't equate that with Stepford Wives feminism, or cupcake baking all day for years on end.

GalaxyDisaStar Tue 11-Dec-12 13:55:45

MmBovary - You may not be here to make friends, but it tends to contribute to PARD if you don't insult or patronise people. You have been rude to posters, and dismissive of other views. I think you'll find no one else on this thread was 'here to discuss cup cake baking' either hmm. Nor is it particularly PAR to passive aggressively accuse others on the thread of being Stepford Wives.

I do actually agree that we need to see more equal division of parenting and financial contribution. In some families a direct split of duties might be ideal, but many more are forced into that choice by societal constraints, especially childcare costs. In our case it was geographical relocation and the fact that my job wasn't portable. For many families, both working 3 days and a small amount of childcare could well work. Or both 4. What I don't agree with is your idea that by just getting your head down and continuing to work throughout you are challenging the status quo any more than someone who may take a career break.

Nor have you answered the question on why you consider me 'dependant'. I am not dependant on my husband any more than he is on me. Currently, he provides finances. I provide childcare. Without the other neither of us would easily be able to operate in our current sphere.

So, regardless of your views, I am a feminist.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 11-Dec-12 16:59:42

A SAHM is not the same as a Stepford wife, MmB.

Writehand Tue 11-Dec-12 17:05:32

MmBovary, you write: Terraria, please explain how can you be a SAHM and a feminist? You're completely dependant on your husband for survival. Where's the equality and the independence? To me, the two are completely incompatible. It's like saying I'm a Christian atheist.

I could not disagree with you more. You've just put the women's movement back decades! It's about choice: feminism. There are a multitude of excellent feminist ways to raise a family. Someone's got to look after the kids, after all.

Are you not a feminist if you look after your own kids? Are you only a feminist if someone else does? Where exactly are you going here, Madame Bovary? (not a great nom de plume for a feminist, as I recall!)

Feminism requires a level of commitment and life style choices that now I realise are very hard, and that most women are not able or willing to achieve. It's easy to do the talk, but not walk the walk.

Get over yourself! It's not hard to be equal. Feminism is a straightforward everyday thing that many of us inhabit. We live the way that works for us, as women and as equals.

duchesse Tue 11-Dec-12 17:17:18

Responding to the OP as I don't have time right now to read the whole thread.

I am 44 and have 4 children, the oldest in their late teens. My university friends have children of a similar age or slightly younger. We are all educated women, yet this is a major sticking point. Many of them are toeing the traditional line almost entirely, not expecting their DHs to do anything more than "help out" at home. I find this deeply frustrating and frankly it's not a conversation I can have with them as there is not really a meeting ground between their points and mine. Also I don't want to be responsible for them beginning to feel dissatisfied with their lot- I think that's a process they have to undergo themselves if they want to. I live how I live but marvel at the things they say and the ways they live.

I find myself with more in common with other friends who are becoming more feminist as time goes by.

DoingitOnTheRoofTopWithSanta Tue 11-Dec-12 19:04:15

I am a feminist. I am currently a SAHM. It is short sighted to say that I am 'dependent on my husband for survival' IMO. In fact, DH and I were having a conversation last night about how I needed life insurance of a level pretty similar to his - because if I died, buying in those services so he could continue to work. Or indeed to fund him working less.

I have also had almost this exact conversation with DH, almost because we came to the conclusion that I should be insured for more than him. Funny that.

mmbovary I am a feminist because I decided to make a choice to look after my children, I could have slaved away at a menial job to not cover the costs of child care so that I could prove a point.Though I am not sure what that point is?

I would not have enjoyed it and would be sad everyday that I was missing out on my children while they are still little so I can win at playing a game invented by the patriarchy? confused. BUt yes, I suppose I could have done those things if I wanted to fit in to your very blinkered view of feminism.

Or as my husband out earned me (because he was ten years older and I had spent my time working rubbish jobs to fund me living abroad in countries most of my friends growing up will never even visit) I could get on with enjoying staying at home with my family.

You are absolutely totally ridiculous.

DoingitOnTheRoofTopWithSanta Tue 11-Dec-12 19:07:11

Namechage, you're a vivid example that the kind of men feminist forums attract are never the brightest in the pack.I know why that is, because the brightest ones are in the City, sitting in their big cat chairs, earning big money to suppor their feminist wives at home. Making the whole capitalist machinery move on and on.

So xenia mmbovary how are you finding the time to post on this forum? Or are you also not the brightest?

lisianthus Wed 12-Dec-12 02:07:15

Wow. I am not a fan of the concept of "choice feminism" either, believing that all choices have to be seen in context. That being said, I also believe that it is ENTIRELY possible to be a SAHM and a feminist- the key is to value the contribution of the SAHP equally with the contribution of the WOHP, and to see the income as family income. If the SAHP does the cooking or looks after the children, it doesn't make the food or the children "more" that parent's food or children. Same with the cash. It doesn't belong to the WOHP, it goes into the family budget to be spent in accordance with that. It doesn't give the WOHP additional rights to it.

When my DD's see me at home using my pickaxe to break up the clay in our vegetable garden, using the chainsaw on the rest of the garden, cooking a stew, sewing on a button or fixing the car, I am pretty sure I am not teaching them that women can't or shouldn't do certain things. I am teaching the joy of being competent, just as DH does when he does any of those things.

Writehand Wed 12-Dec-12 13:04:35

My boys are feminists without even thinking much about it. It's how they were brought up. But then, though my mum is more conventional, my dad has always been a passionate feminist. More than that, really. He was a GP and will say openly that in his view women are by far the better, braver sex. He also envies their power to give birth. He did GP obstetrics back in the day, and loved it. I was his first born, and he expected the world to be my oyster.

I run my own business from a posh shed at the bottom of my garden. When it took off & it became clear that (1) I needed to work v long hours & (2) I could earn more than him, my husband was delighted to be able to walk into his manager's office and offer his resignation on the grounds that "my wife is going to keep me."

My DH was a househusband for 2 years. This worked out, by chance, to be a huge blessing because it meant he'd seen so much of the boys when, in the 3rd year, he became terminally ill and - after a year of illness at home - died.

When MmBovary writes "the kind of men feminist forums attract are never the brightest in the pack" she insults all the men in my family: a senior programmer, a doctor, a member of the Royal Academy...I could go on. Are you an example of Poe's Law, MmBovary? You are beginning to look like a parody of the wild hinterlands of sexual politics.

Equality between the sexes is a given in my family. We may be an unusual family but not, I'm pleased to say, very unusual. More and more children are being brought up with feminist views - not that they're taught them like a religion - just that they see equality in the home as normal.

Our domestic arrangements - like those of other posters - were based entirely on ability, inclination and money. My husband never for an instant considered me inferior. We were very proud of each other.

Feminism within the family is less about who earns what but about how the partners - and the extended family are perceived and valued. Men & women aren't the same, but they are far more alike than they are different. All of us respond to respect and courtesy, particularly that profound respect which makes the domination of one by the other quite unthinkable.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 12-Dec-12 13:16:40

Great post, write.

DoingitOnTheRoofTopWithSanta Wed 12-Dec-12 14:24:47

So sorry to hear about your husband write it sounds like he was a lovely man.

VikingLady Wed 12-Dec-12 20:35:13

I am a feminist. Married, we both took both surnames so that the children would have the same names as both of us, for admin purposes (passports, schools etc).

I am currently a SAHM. If DH could lactate, he would be home instead. If he had a uterus, he would take maternity leave. My earning potential is higher than his, but I believe in breastfeeding and DD is 9m. We plan to have our family fairly rapidly, then when they are able to be cared for equally effectively by DH we will assess who has the better earning potential, and who wants to be at home. DH will almost certainly be a SAHD, but shouldn't I be allowed to be a SAHM if his earning potential was higher than mine, MmBovary? If he was, say, a barrister earning £200k p.a. with years of training and experience behind him, and I was a checkout operative on minimum wage?

DoingitOnTheRoofTopWithSanta Wed 12-Dec-12 20:43:14

no, no none of your logic viking.

Mmbovary doesn't want any of that. Apparently the feminism forum is actually for bashing women and their choices. I thought the patriarchy did enough of that for us. But I was wrong well I'm a woman aren't I?

SomersetONeil Thu 13-Dec-12 09:40:10

DH and I have taken it turns to be the primary caregiver or sole breadwinner, and, at times, dual breadwinners with outside help in terms of childcare.

So although my thought processes, beliefs and feminist principles haven't changed over the years - at some of those points in time I have been a feminist and at some of them I haven't. hmm

My beliefs throughout have been absolutely the same, but because my occupation has temporarily changed, I have ceased to be a feminist. Even though I couldn't have identified less with non-feminist thoughts if I'd tried... grin Okaaaaay.

Not quite sure how that works....

I always find it slightly amusing when people get their tannoy out and declare that certain women are not feminists - and yet, on other threads where women are rushing to disassociate themselves from feminism, there'll be people arguing: well, if you believe in equality between the sexes and choice for all, you're a feminist whether you like it or not.

Women who proudly identify as feminists being told they're not, and women eschewing the label being told they are. You couldn't make it up.

Latara Thu 13-Dec-12 11:36:07

I am a feminist - i believe in equality in all areas of life for men & women.

The major sticking point for me is that the majority of my female family members, friends or colleagues will identify themselves as a feminist...

This is difficult for me as you can imagine!

These women are all working class / lower middle class, mostly white British.

The friends of mine who are immigrants from poorer countries tend to identify as feminists more; & ironically the male friends & relatives i have are happier to discuss feminist issues more than the women i know!

The particular problems i have when discussing feminism are the following, & sadly they are true of many women i know:

* they seem to enjoy a traditional female role;
* they are happy to be 'dictated to' by the men in their lives;
* they want to feel 'protected' by a man;
* they are happy not to challenge men in any way;
* they see Christian Grey from '50 Shades' as an 'ideal man';

* they are happy to change their surnames on marriage;
* they are happy for children to take their boyfriends' surnames if unmarried (even if they don't like the boyfriends that much!);

* they don't see a problem with not feeling safe when out at night or not feeling able to go into certain pubs alone etc - 'it's just one of those things that we have to put up with'

* they have archaic attitudes to rape victims - it's mostly seen as the victims' fault STILL

* they see feminists as ''wanting to be 'like men' '' !! (Even though i say i'm a feminist, i'm very feminine - more so than some friends - & make it clear it's equality i believe in rather than being 'like men' ffs)

If i give any opinions then i'm seen as ''too opinionated'' - but the men in their lives are allowed to have many opinions, of course!


Latara Thu 13-Dec-12 11:37:29

Sorry meant to say that the majority of female friends, colleagues & relatives WILL NOT identify as feminists (oops).

Festivedidi Thu 13-Dec-12 12:42:49

I am a feminist (although sometimes I am told I'm not, but only on here) and I have had to bite my tongue on a number of occassions at work.

I have changed the way I discuss things as I've got older. I have always had quite feminist views, it would have been difficult not to growing up in my household with the incredibly feminist women of my grandmas generation (my great aunts were a definite sight to behold).

When I was growing up I was surrounded by young women (at an all girls school) who believed they could do/be anything and the world was our oyster. We all fully expected careers, partners who would share all domestic duties 50/50, we weren't going to change our names, we were going to take on the world. Now fast forward 20 years and I'm the only one left who hasn't changed my ideals. Most of them have changed their names on marriage, have given up their careers to be SAHMs, are financially dependent on their husbands, and feel very sorry for me because we obviously just can't afford for me to do the same (it's nothing to do with me having a career I've worked hard for and am good at which pays the mortgage hmm)

We're still friends but at a more distant level. I seem to be gravitating more towards my colleagues, but even there I am surrounded by women fulfilling the traditionally female roles, they just work full time as well as doing the majority of the childcare and housework.

I don't think I know anyone outside my family who identifies as a feminist. Maybe one or two women at work would call themselves feminists but they don't do it openly.

I have to be very careful when I'm discussing things that I don't dismiss other people's choices as wrong, but I also don't want them to think I agree that their way is the only way. I've become rather diplomatic but I've also had to grow a bit more of a backbone recently so that I don't end up with a houseful of pink to the exclusion of everything else just because I have girls.

Writehand Fri 14-Dec-12 18:36:12

Thank you, TheDoctrineOfSnatch & DoingitOnTheRoofTopWithSanta. Yes, he was a lovely man. Big & funny, romantic & kind. We had 17 years together. He was only 50 when he died. I will always be grateful that he gave me my lovely boys. Another huge plus is that my relationship with him brought me a half-share in my much loved S-D, now 32 & married with children of her own, so I'm a stepgranny with three more people to love.

I could look at it two ways basically:

1.My true love died; what a tragedy; poor, poor me; or
2.Some people never find their true love or have a really happy relationship. How lucky I was.

I chose the second and it comforts me every day. Only downside is that he's a hard act to follow. It's taken me forever to get over feeling married. I only had my first proper relationship this year. It lasted just 6 months, and it was never very serious, but it's got me out and into the swing of life again. So I'm feeling more hopeful about my romantic prospects. wink

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 14-Dec-12 21:00:07

write your DH sounds like such a lovely man.

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