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Can you be a feminist housewife?

(662 Posts)
wigglybeezer Tue 30-Aug-11 14:00:37

Can you be a feminist if you don't have a career but your DH does, especially if this situation has been going on for a long time (13 years in my case)?

I don't feel downtrodden by the way, merely a bit bored and lacking in choice ATM. I earn a small amount of money, so don't have to ask DH for everything but I'm wondering if my Granny (who was a hospital consultant) was a better feminist than me. I just found a photo of her and her pals at medical school where she has noted on the back that there were 18 female medical students out of 180!

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 14:07:20

It's not a competition!

If you are feeling bored and lacking in choice you could do something? OU is very good.

I have a female relative of that generation (born 1907) who was a doctor as well smile

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 14:07:40

Well I say "have" but she's dead now!

SybilBeddows Tue 30-Aug-11 14:11:43

yes you can, there are lots on here.
Children have to be looked after. There is something wrong with the fact that women are disproportionately encouraged to do it (and men discouraged) or that women often end up doing it when they don't really want to, but that doesn't mean there is something unfeminist about a woman choosing to do it.

tryingtoleave Tue 30-Aug-11 14:17:16

Yes - you can argue that women make different life choices than men, and those choices campn be equally valid.

TeiTetua Tue 30-Aug-11 14:21:35

I think the big feminist issue is if society expects women to be only housewives, or if working for wages (in some not very well respected job, most likely) to be doing all the housewifely things in addition. If there's a genuine choice of roles, then it's no longer a problem. But we can all think about what we have genuinely chosen for ourselves, versus what we've been pushed into and what we've slipped into because it was the easiest thing at the time.

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 14:22:33

Unfortunately for many people at the moment the way everything is structured means that some choices are easier than others, even if it's not what they'd do in an ideal world.

The shame is that childcare is not recognised as the hard work with long hours that it is.

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 14:23:48

I also don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with not working if you don't have to, same as when I read of lottery winners continuing their work I don't think there is anything strange about that either.

Malificence Tue 30-Aug-11 14:24:08

I see caring for your own children as a very feminist thing to do and the very best thing for your children up to school age (whether it's a mother or father doing it) .
I've never worked full time (I'm 45) and have no wish for a career, what I am is an equal partner in my marriage, I feel very fortunate to have the choice not to have to work - we've never seen it as DH's money, it's our money and me being at home for the majority of the time has enabled him to further his career, which has benefitted all of us.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 30-Aug-11 14:59:08

Absolutely you can. I don't think it's 'not working' either. If you have children, they need to be cared for by someone, and invariably the housework needs to be done. Someone would be doing those things if not you. They are work. It is quite shitty that they are not better valued, but that is not your fault.

The issue of whether you feel fulfilled or fed up is separate, and if you feel fed up, it's not un-feminist but nor is it great for your self esteem.

startAfire Tue 30-Aug-11 15:01:34

Message withdrawn

Riveninabingle Tue 30-Aug-11 15:02:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

solidgoldbrass Tue 30-Aug-11 15:14:13

Yes, you can be a feminist and a stay-at-home parent. But this means understanding and being sure your partner understands that just because you do not bring in money, that does not make the wage earner your boss/owner, and you should not be on duty for housework on childcare 24/7 in exchange for your bed and board, while the wage earner comes home from work and expects to be waited on.

Valetude Tue 30-Aug-11 15:14:17

Don't know about being, but it is easier to feel like a feminist housewife (not nice word) when children are little and it is a job of work as well as maybe a choice or a necessity.

It is harder when they need you less to find your place as a feminist, as an example anyway, theoretically it's easy. I felt uneasy saying I wanted equality with men when I had children at school and I wasn't working and I could drink lots of tea. I never felt like, and never was, a burden for my man to shoulder financially, I just felt uneasy that I was not pulling my weight as a woman somehow.

TheRealMBJ Tue 30-Aug-11 15:17:56

What SGB said

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 30-Aug-11 16:51:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DirtyMartini Tue 30-Aug-11 17:07:45

<pretends not to have seen SGM's post>

(1) yes you can, OP, agree with what others have said, but
(2) I really don't like the word "housewife" either, but then again
(3) is it maybe one of those misunderstood words in linguistic terms, like "midwife"? How old is the word "housewife"?

Don't let yourself stay bored, OP, there are loads of interesting ways to occupy oneself and brush up on feminism at the same time if you so wish.

wigglybeezer Tue 30-Aug-11 17:17:26

Sorry StewieGriffinsMom. I will look at that book.
For what it's worth I do think you can be a feminist and a SAHM/housewife and it felt like a positive choice at first but all of kids are at school now and I am last woman standing among my friends who are all working.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 30-Aug-11 17:18:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UsingMainlySpoons Tue 30-Aug-11 17:19:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wigglybeezer Tue 30-Aug-11 17:22:41

DH does not expect to be waited on!

ithaka Tue 30-Aug-11 17:22:52

I don't think the OP was asking about being a feminist and a SAHM, rather being a feminist and a housewife, which is different.

A housewife may not have any children/young children to care for and may just 'keep house' for herself and her partner.

PamSco Tue 30-Aug-11 17:31:22

Depends how you define "being a feminist" I guess.

In my simple view, if you take it as a politically morivated movement aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Then as long as you feel you have the equal (to man) choice in your life and are happy with your choice then you are living the dream.

I'm going on mat leave after 20 solid years of career building and I am so excited. I'm very lucky I have the luxury of choice. Nobody (inc OH) expects me to give up work and they are supporting my freedom to choose. If I choose to not go back to work, or go part time I don't see myself any less a feminist. Both choices work or not gives value to the next generation if managed right - wonder what I'll do grin ?!

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 19:36:41

I think whether you can be a feminist and a housewife (not looking after children full time or even at all) is not the question.

But it links into our society's puritanical ideas about work and leisure and laziness and all of that stuff.

I think if you don't need to work and you don't want to work then don't. I know that some on MN have confloptions at the idea.

If you are feeling like doing something then do something - a course, more of your part-time role, a different job, charidee work, whatever floats your boat. Personally I do not think there is anything immoral in not working for money if you can, and so why would it have any impact on whether you can be a feminist or not? Going out and doing 21 hours a week min wage isn't going to make you any more of a feminist. Working for someone like Fawcett might but is that a genuine option? grin So I say do what you fancy and don't spare it another thought smile

SardineQueen Tue 30-Aug-11 19:38:12

OTOH my choice is not feminist as it was not free. I do not enjoy being at home with the children, I want to work, I should've carried on working, I didn't as the way things are structured meant that when it came to the crunch we slotted into traditional roles. So that is a cock up and I have definitely let myself down.

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