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Being a Feminist and providing financially for your family...

(13 Posts)
belhamwalk Mon 21-Jan-13 12:49:17

hi everyone, looking for your thoughts.. Im about to have my first baby and last night while having dinner with my partner and his sister and brother in law I seemed to stick my foot in it by saying that I thought (sympathetically) that men must feel more pressure to be the bread-winner in a partnership with children.. I didnt get much further than that as all three of them were quick to scorn the very idea- with my partner helpfully questioning my so-called feminist credentials, didnt i believe in equality etc etc.. (none of the three would describe themselves as feminist.) The subject was changed pretty quickly but left a bad taste in my mouth. So these guys get to use my feminism against me, cherry picking the best advantages of the patriarchy while using my own politics against me to say essentially that I MUST 'have it all..' i.e. I, by the fact of biology have to take time out of my career, risking my livelihood and earning power but by my own lofty ideals also am fully expected to provide exactly half of the financial contribution to my family... it makes me quite angry and as ive said the three of them really cringe at any mention of the F word.. the brother in law being a particularly unenlightened sort. My partners sister cant stand it when i talk about feminism, her 3 yr old daughter wears high heels etc. etc.. I would like some back up arguments for my thoughts on financial equality and having children.. any thoughts? feel free to disagree with me...? Thanks for any replies!
summary: By describing ourselves as Feminists do we HAVE to 'have it all' and provide equally financially for our families or can we count on a little help from our partners.. (whose careers have not been irrevocably de-railed and dont have the uphill road of inequality in the 1st place?

Zzzzmarchhare Mon 21-Jan-13 14:50:07

I had a similarly frustating conversation with my MIL- basically she was telling me to quit my career to do locum work-which is better paid but no career prospects as it will fit in better with the family. The fact that DH will earn less than me even when I do 3 days, but could earn more if he switched to a less fullfilling role was not mentioned. It really wound me up.
We have had periods where I have been the only person earning as DH was studying so I think me being on SMP, DH has shared his money without me asking, as I did with him. We do keep our finances separate though but tend to ask each others opinions before we buy something expensive.
I think in a partnership where you are bringing a child into the world assets such as money, time to socialise/ sleep need to be shared fairly-else it's not a partnership.

BlingLoving Tue 22-Jan-13 00:51:50

I don't think feminism means you each do exactly half of everything. In my case, dh is sahd and I earn all the money.

Your family sound a bit confused but I would agree that it's unfair to put all the financial pressure on men, just because you are the mother. In our case, I earn all the money currently but I don't feel all the responsibility. We share it. And dh helps me to do what I need to do in order To earn that money v

belhamwalk Tue 22-Jan-13 10:27:07

I agree with you BlingLoving, I wasnt very clear in my post- I dont think that men should support the family because they are men, I was saying that because we are women and if we are breastfeeding and therefore having to take time out to look after the babies then there's only going to be one breadwinner and that's the dad. In your case you earn the money and your husband stays at home which is fantastic- but its not often the case.
In the original dinner party conversation what i said was that men must feel an awful pressure to provide which is when I was shot down in flames. But my career advancement is suffering - my earning is totally altered (hopefully not completely stopped) and because I identify as feminist then in a live by the sword, die by the sword sort of way I need to suck all that up and STILL provide exactly half the financial support for my family unit!?
I will never be as successful in my career because of the interruption of having children. If I put my Cath Kidson apron on and iron hubby's shirts then that's ok, I can relax and not stress about my loss of earning power but if I still believe in equality of the sexes then I'd better buck up and be the 'superwoman' the media talks about because why should my partner have to contribute anything more than half, it is all about equality you know. Hey - it's not their fault they cant lactate!
I want to look after my baby. I also want to advance in my career. I dont want to be stressed out to the max thinking how can I do both? And I refuse to concede that that does not make me a feminist!!!!!

dublinrose37 Tue 22-Jan-13 11:49:28

You shouldn't have to do anything other than what makes you happy.

I only work part time because it suits me with my kids. I don't feel I'm letting the side down, for me feminism is about giving women a choice, I choose to work part time and earn a fraction what my husband does but thats my choice.

I might not bring in as much money as him but he works longer hours and while I'm home I do my bit. I think its important that all work is valued equally whether its outside or inside the home.

Snorbs Tue 22-Jan-13 12:24:13

You shouldn't have to do anything other than what makes you happy.

But dublinrose you have the opportunity to do what makes you happy because your DH is earning enough to allow you to have that kind of free choice.

If it makes you happy to work part-time then fair enough. But what if your DH decided that what would make him happy is to give up work entirely and be a stay-at-home parent? Or, to put it another way, how much pressure do you think he feels under to keep his current job in order to maintain your family's current standard of living?

dublinrose37 Tue 22-Jan-13 12:41:50

Tbh we're not doing so great that we could rely on one wage, we've had to make a lot of sacrifices as a result of me not working full time again. I'm not sure it would be financially viable for us both to work full time anyway with child care costs as they are.

My husband was a stay at home parent for 18 months and he enjoyed it but he made the decison to go back to work when our youngest was 6 months. I would have loved him to be at home with me for longer but I could see how important it was to him.

If he really wanted to work part time again we'd have to sort something out. Unfortunately the chances of me getting full time work at the moment are nil so its all moot.

I would hope that he could talk to me about it either way, you might not be in a position to change your situation re work but keeping that pressure inside and hiding it isn't healthy.

Anniegetyourgun Tue 22-Jan-13 15:32:56

If you believe in equality of the sexes, then surely you believe that the amount of effort you both put in should be shared fairly. It doesn't always boil down to monetary value. If you're breastfeeding your child, which, as you point out, with the best will in the world its father can't do, then your contribution in other areas needs to be scaled down a bit to compensate, right? There are the same number of hours in a day whether you're a man or a woman. In fact, saying you have to carry on doing it all at home as well as the workplace, while the other half of the couple only has to do the workplace bit, is the very antithesis of what feminism is supposed to be about.

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 15:57:19

"I want to look after my baby. I also want to advance in my career. I dont want to be stressed out to the max thinking how can I do both? And I refuse to concede that that does not make me a feminist!!!!! " Far from it that makes you a feminist. Why should taking time out to care for your young children damage your career? It is only the inflexibility of the workplace that makes it so (and capitalism and working out of home being solely focused around men).

You shouldn't have to do it all. your partner should be taking over the childcare and ironing his shirts etc etc when you are at work. They need to step up too. Their lives need to change like yours will. Then we have a better chance of getting equality in the workplace.

As Annie says, contribution to the family pot should not be in purely monteary terms. That is a very patriarchal and cpitalist way of looking at things and it more often than not, conveniently, ignores the woman's input.

catgirl1976 Tue 22-Jan-13 20:38:11

I think men probably do feel pressure to provide for a family as that is a gender role that is heavily re-inforced. I don't think acknowledging that pressure exists for men means you are not a feminist

I am the sole breadwinner in our family and have a good career but that doesn't make me more or less of a feminist than if I decided to SAH with DS and DH went out to work

grimbletart Tue 22-Jan-13 21:19:46

belhamwalk: Don't assume you will never be as successful in your career because you took time out to have children. I took five years out and it was simply a hiccup - and that was at a time when there was a hell of lot less provision made for mothers. Looking round my closest friends of my age, all with career interruptions, they have all done as well as they would have done had they not had children.

So don't despair!

fromparistoberlin Wed 23-Jan-13 09:27:21

same as bling

(bling... are you very well paid hehe)_

I think whats comes first for me is my chidren being happy and well cared for, and there is no doubt that being with their dad FT is really working for us all

Bottom line is it all comes down to money. I earn enough to support 4 of us. we are lucky

I think feminism is a red herring, its mainly boils down to COLD HARD CASH

but yes, given the fact that the general assumption thats its a woman that stays home, maybe soe men do feel the pressure

but in my case, its all down to me to earn the €€€€€€

belhamwalk Thu 24-Jan-13 12:08:34

Thanks for all responses! Anniegetyourgun, Abilgail and Catgirl have summed up what my baby brain couldn't quite reach for- ALL work should be valued equally in a family unit, and someone has to SAH to look after the kids when they are very young. And I was only acknowledging the pressure on MEN that exists because of our sexist society! I think a younger generation of men these days dont want to face up to the idea (or maybe its just my partner who is a bit weird about money..) that there is going to be some imbalance in financial earning power for a while..
Grimbletart, you may be right that my career advancement wont be irrevocably disrupted, but then again in my field I think it will, at least for a good few years after having small children. That's the trade-off, I'm not sad about that! Just need some understanding from the men in my life that that will be the case!

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