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Taking the Plunge #2

(10 Posts)
IroningBoardForSurfBoard Wed 13-Jul-11 10:50:59

Being a feminist parent is becoming a bit of a minefield for me just lately.

I'm WELL over 40, so have had plenty of practice with having 2 DS's very early in my adult life, and was a single parent for much of their young lives too. (more than 10 years, most of this with only 'casual' relationships, meaning more social with a bit of sex thrown in for good measure, not co-habiting).

I taught my sons to cook, clean, sew etc, all the things you need to be able to do to survive IMO, but since having my DD (who's 4yrs now) and getting married, I'm finding it increasingly hard to hold onto my feminist beliefs and values.

DH and I very much work as a team. We do have specific 'roles' about the house that could be defined as gender-specific, but he goes up ladders as I'm shit scared of heights and taller anyhow, I cook as a hobby as well as to feed us all. I do the washing, he does the ironing.

I don't do paid work, but that is my choice.

I think confused sometimes I wonder if it is down to circumstance, that I am denying my 'sisterhood' (sorry for the clique) and being compliant for an easy life.

I feel comfortable in my life and role, but am wondering what sort of silent message I am giving DD?
Her adult brother lives with us, and while she sees him do housework etc, she still knows that mum 'stays at home to look after her', i want to re-gain the confidence to challenge the common belief that I am 'kept woman' <vomits> and a 'lady of leisure' <eyeroll>

Gentle pointers...please

<deep breath, holds nose, jumps and SPLASH>

CaptainBarnacles Wed 13-Jul-11 11:22:26

Hi smile

It's interesting that you describe yourself as 'being compliant for an easy life'. Who or what do you feel you are compliant with? Your DH? Or society more generally?

What do you think might give you back the confidence in your feminist identity?

HerBeX Wed 13-Jul-11 11:24:08

Read Wifework by Susan Maushart.

That will give you the confidence to know that what you are doing, is worthwhile and valuable. You're not a kept woman, you're doing your fair share of labour which would otherwise have to be done by your DH or paid for if someone else did it. Once you feel confident that what you are doing is valuable, other people's idiocies about ladies of leisure and kept women, won't bother you.

IroningBoardForSurfBoard Wed 13-Jul-11 11:47:20

I don't think I am totally compliant, I wouldn't give myself that 'title' but I wonder if I'm sliding that way, sort of subconsciously?

I mean in society, DH is has very feminist traits too. But we decided that for our lifestyle, it would be best if I stayed at home. We can afford it (just), and it works.
But fielding the daily comments (from friends, neighbours and family) about going out to work when DD goes to school, have got me thinking I suppose.

Actually, I can pinpoint it.

DD will have a male teacher when she starts reception in Sept.
THIS has set me thinking. She has positive male role models which challenge the 'norm', but the one main female role model she has is ME!

Also, my DM/SIS and others shower DD with girly pink shite as a 'treat' for her, they know I won't get it for her. I discourage the 'girly' stuff as much as possible. I don't deny it, I just try to offer alternatives very strongly . When people say kids need to find their own gender identity, why does this have to involve princesses, painting your nails pink? This is where the 'easy life' comes in.
It's easier to accept they are right sometimes.

Back to when I was a parent to DSs only...I found it REALLY easy to deny them guns as toys. Any that were given were confiscated. War games were not allowed (in my earshot at least) and I stuck to it.

Is that because the feminist issue isn't as important to me? NO, it's because of the role I am in atm. I will keep lurking and posting on here, as lots of the women (well the posts i read) seem to have more feminist confidence, and i want it too smile

LRDTheFeministNutcase Wed 13-Jul-11 11:47:28

I am reading with interest as I'm at an earlier stage than you. No kids, but DH and I do share tasks ... and my feminist conscience prickles whenever he takes the bins out!

I think for me two things are really important: one, that I don't develop the sort of partnership where I really can't do things DH does. I don't like taking the bins out and I hate doing the bills, but I can do them. This seems important to me both in practical terms and because I've seen from my parents' relationship what an imbalance it causes that my dad conveniently 'can't' cook and my mum 'can't' ring up the car people for an MOT (these two jobs, the one involving 365 days of the year and the other one, might give you pause!).

The second thing is that I don't waste my time by trying to be superwoman. Yes, I can work 14 hours in the day and cook DH dinner from scratch. No, the world will not end if I accept his offer to do it. No, I don't have to complain he hoovered things 'wrong' or put on a whites wash when I really needed my blue top done.

I'm trying to learn to balance those two things. I do think it's quite difficult not to feel that by doing some of the second one I'm not being a 'real' feminist ... but I try to say 'bollocks' to such feelings. grin

(Very different when you have children, I accept. I am but a poor childfree fool, etc. etc.)

ItsNotUnusual Wed 13-Jul-11 12:21:58

I agree with HerBex. What you are doing is worthwhile and valuable, and provided that decisions about who does what are taken jointly, and that all household members genuinely believe the value of your role, not just pay lip service to it.

Ineteresting that for your sons, you were confident enough in your parenting to 'deny guns as toys', 'confiscate' and 'not allow' war games but for your daughter you seem more pressured by DM / SIS / friends / neighbours / family.

HerBeX Wed 13-Jul-11 12:22:22

One good rejoinder to the "what about working when she goes to school?" question is "Oh no, I've been on 365 days a year, 24 hours call, for 4 and a half years, so I reckon I've earned 5 hours a day off in term-time for at least a year".

CaptainBarnacles Wed 13-Jul-11 12:23:41

On the pink thing - my impression is that this is much much worse now than 10 or 20 years ago. So perhaps it was easier to go against the grain and resist gender stereotyping when your DSs were small? I have a 3 yo DD and also find it very hard in the way you describe. And I am a single parent, working FT, so I think it's a universal issue!

So I wonder whether it's not just to do with your role having changed, but with society having become more sexist?

You sound like a really great role model, tbh. There is a lot more to it than just paid work.

HerBeX Wed 13-Jul-11 12:35:21

Yes I think CB is right, gender stereotyped roles are much stronger now than 20 years ago. Now that we live in a post feminist society, we're all supposed to agree that it's unnecessary to resist stereotyping and that in fact if you do, you're just a nutter who is in denial about brain differences ... or some such shite.

IroningBoardForSurfBoard Wed 13-Jul-11 16:15:30

I'm liking that response, HerBex, very much grin

I've also skimmed an excerpt of that book online, I think I'll give that a go. The last feminist book I read was 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' way back in 1980 something blush

On the issue of 'pink' - has it REALLY changed so much in the last 20 years? I grew up in a predominantly female but most definitely patriachal household (no brothers) and that was pretty grim, dad definitely ruled the roost, and still does.

We were encouraged (read as forced) to make sure everything was 'in place' for when he returned from work. Meal, clothes, chair shock
I used to think this was to 'thank' him for working so hard, but it wasn't that at all. He's still the same now, and he treats it as a joke.

I think they thought my feminist 'rebellion' was just that. That being a younger parent I had 'missed out' on the expected teenage rebellion (they obviously had missed the CND badges/protest marches etc I went on) - and being a lone parent of sons was my 'latest' fad.

I hope you don't mind me rambling on like this, it's helping me understand 'me'.

Thank you for reading smile

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