A More Inclusive Feminism
posted by Amy
Judith Tucker Stadtman has written a thought-provoking response to Linda Hirshman's much-discussed Homeward Bound. You can read it here, but if you want a preview, read on for excerpts from "Everybody Hates Linda":
I positively salute Hirshman when she writes: "Like the right to work and the right to vote, the right to have a flourishing life that includes but is not limited to family cannot be addressed by the language of choice." The freedom to choose -- which positions women not as self-determined individuals with inalienable rights, but as informed consumers in a world of market-driven options -- is far too murky and diluted a claim when the problem at hand is a shortage of social justice.
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know that when my kids were babies, I clung to the idea that I was choosing to be with them so much because it was what good mothers did. I've said this before, but the reality I wasn't admitting existed was that I really didn't have the options I thought I did. That's something I figured out when I looked into preschools and realized the options were a) put baby on waiting list for local, affordable preschool which doesn't allow me to work or b) pay more than we could afford for daycare. Judith goes on to write:
Beyond that -- well, nobody likes to be told she's living a "lesser life" because she prioritized child-rearing over career-building for a few years, or that her behavior is bad for her, "bad for society," and "tarnishes every female with the knowledge that she is almost never going to be a ruler." That the process of caring for others may lead to self-awareness -- self-awareness that can spark individual growth and development -- is not in Hirsman's realm of possibilities. Frankly, feminism has been around this block before, and it estranged many women with egalitarian sensibilities from the cause.
I couldn't agree more. The feminism I believe in sees caring for others as an important part of life—one women and men alike want and need to be able to integrate into a life which may also include meaningful paid work.