Skip to comments.The gen X take on the failings of feminism
Posted on 11/22/2004 8:07:47 AM PST by qam1
One of feminism's saddest relics is the guilt many women feel at not being "perfect",
Joanna Murray-Smith raises important issues in her article entitled "Feminism's booby trap" (on this page on Friday). They are not new - every working mother has, at some point, questioned her rationale for balancing home and career - but worth re-iterating nonetheless. I would go further, though. When Murray-Smith discusses feminism's failure to negotiate satisfactory answers, she is also, unconsciously, uncovering a greater generational divide.
Those of us generation Xers just in or approaching our 40s, have come of age seduced by the baby boomer dream that we can "have it all". We were brought up on diets of Cosmopolitan and Shirley Conran, gullibly digesting ideals of Superwomanhood. On the menu: the ultimate feminist, who not only headed up a multinational organisation, but blissfully juggled three children and her relationship, as well whipping up a high-rise souffle in her spare time.
IS it any wonder we feel cheated and deluded when these expectations seldom match up to reality?
One of the saddest relics of feminism, it seems to me, is the guilt that so many women feel at not being "perfect". We set ourselves such lofty goals, such unreasonable targets so much of the time, that when we are unable to match up to them our instinctive reaction is for self-blame, sticking pins in ourselves for failing society and failing ourselves.
Feminism's cruel fall-out has polarised mothers who do not work and those who do. The stay-at-home versus work debate has become a minefield of prejudice and antagonism, frequently and unfortunately fuelled by women themselves. Such arguments not only fan the fire of guilt in both camps, they do nothing to ease the dilemma.
It's time to come out shouting that the baby boomers got it wrong. There is no such thing as instant gratification. For every working mother who complains of being time poor, consumed with guilt at putting her six-month-old into daycare, I can show you a stay-at-home mother who longs for a part-time job, emotionally stifled by an endless round of breast-feeding and nappies.
It's a fact of life that we can never have it all, so we'd better get used to it. We are human, fallible. Whatever our choices as mothers, there will be sacrifices. This is the legacy baby boomers never predicted, and one we are just beginning to come to terms with.
It's time, finally, to throw guilt and self-doubt out of the window, along with many 1970s notions of feminism.
Today's feminist needs EQ - emotional quotients - as well as IQ. That means acknowledging that Superwoman is a myth and, like all myths, it should be debunked. It also means becoming less self-judgemental, and accepting ourselves for who we are.
All mothers are battlers. Let's, for once, give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. We are brave and formidable.
If generation X women are struggling to come to terms with the impossibility of being Shirley Conran, then it will be interesting to see how generation Y - those born between 1980 and 2000 who are yet to become parents - cope.
Sociologists and statisticians indicate that generation Y demonstrate keen awareness of social and global issues, that they are free spirits who are motivated as much by ideology as ambition.
By all accounts, gen Ys accept the notion of a balanced life as a God-given right. Perhaps they will also give birth to a new dimension to parenting and eschew the agonies that have plagued their long-suffering mothers
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social aspects that directly effects Gen-Reagan/Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
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How come you never hear about guys fretting over the superman myth?
I just sit back and grin and talk about what a good life I have in being able to call my own schedule. Drives them crazy.
I flat out do not believe this.
There is an end to it - no one breastfeeds forever.
Who suffers more - the woman at 50 who looks back and says "I missed my child's childhood", or the woman at 50 and looks back and says "I missed my promotion at the ad agency" ??
I'll bet this author a paycheck she cannot show a 1 to 1 in these stands! Truth is most women who leave the work place would not go back to save their lives after they get past the initial phase..... Sure some miss work, however if you think because you don't have a job you can't be fullfilled you are nuts. There are so many things out there, organizations, community groups etc... that a stay at home mom can find pleanty of "satisfaction" without dealing with a BOSS.
The idea that as many stay at home moms regret or feel unfullfilled by not working, as there are women who have come to realize that they are cheating their children and feel guilty about it because they work.. is feminist drivel.
I "have it all".
I get to stay home with my babies, and take care of my family.
What kind of weirdo considers feeding her child to be a "chore"?
This pisses me off so bad.
What a load of crap we were fed growing up, you can work, you can be a mom, and you'll still have time to party the night away.
Well I don't, and now we are juggling, struggling to decide what to do so I can be home for our kids. Quit my fulltime job? Part time work while they're at school? Telecommute? No outside work? Switch health insurances? Get rid of one car? Plant a garden?
I think the problem is they don't instruct girls that being a stay-at-home mom IS an option, and a damn fine one.
She's wrong; you can have it all, just not all at the same time. If you accept that you can't be a high powered lawyer or doctor while at the same time being a full time mother to the children you've invited into this world, you will be much more content.
She's right about our desire for instant gratification. We want to be able to graduate from college, start a career, have a couple of kids in between business meetings, and still expect to keep everything totally organized, and be happy in every aspect of our lives. Ain't gonna happen.
What happened to doing things in their time? Go to college and get a degree in something you think you'd like to do. Work a few years, get married, work a little more, have some kids and stay home and be a mother to them, enjoying their short time as little ones. If you really like being with them, you could postpone your high dollar career for one that involves being their teacher, and homeschool them! If that doesn't appeal to you, then when they're in school, look at that career you put on hold. Is is truly what you always wanted, or is there something else that might appeal to you. By now you've had some real world experience, and a few more years to grow up. At this point, you can make a really informed decision about your career, and you can go back to school, or do some home education to further that goal.
If we get ourselves out of the trap we've created, we'd be a lot happier and more fulfilled in our lives. Stop obsessing and start truly LIVING!
I have never met a man who suffers in silience. Especially when it comes to physical ailments, men are the biggest crybabies.
The kind that's always gazing over the fence at the greener grass. People just need to learn to enjoy the here and now.
PS: Good on you for actually taking the time to raise your kids and tend to your family. What a concept!!
Dunno, tamar....might explain why the suicide rate is higher for men than for women.
I don't know about everyone elses jobs, but I know there are several women here who have quit to stay home with their children. Not your low level employees either, high level managers and execs. No one around here looks down at them. The general response from other women seems to be, "Good for her!"
My hubby suffers in silence. He had surgery a couple of years ago and was trying to act like it was just another day at the beach in the recovery room. Then he nearly passed out, because he was pushing himself too hard, too fast. Then he absolutely refused to take his pain medication.
My dad is the exact same way. They are both like the knight in The Holy Grail. "Just a flesh wound. I'm fine."
Boy, did that hit the nail on the head. I've about seven more years until my first "retirement". (When the kids grow up.) My mind is churning at the possibilities for my second career. The idea of owning my own business is appealing.
Most men would rather their families know nothing if they are in pain, rather than have them worry. In my experience, men don't say a word, until their problems become unmanageable on their own.
I think the reason people are saying "Good for her" is that a whole generation was brought up with severe family problems because their boomer parents didn't have time for them (not FReeper boomers, of course). Remember in the 70's how divorce was supposed to be so "liberating"? It was everywhere in the pop culture, divorce, divorce, divorce. Unfortunately, no one seemed to give a crap as to what effect all this would have on the kids.
Well, the kids grew up and had kids of their own. And I see a lot of people not wanting to make the mistakes their parents made. So, like you, I hear a lot of "Good for her" these days.
Also note: I am not slamming people who are divorced, stuff happens. I am disgusted by the pop culture push for divorce that happened in the 70's.
The most important legacy of the feminist movement of the 70's is the two-income household. The results of that legacy are coming in and they don't look good in many areas:
1) Inflation. It now takes two incomes to maintain the same standard of living and affluency as one income could have maintained before 1970.
2) Latch-key kids. When kids come home from school to an empty house, there's no telling what they could get into without their parents around.
3) Divorce. It could be the most serious social problem our society faces. Having the husband and wife "doing their own thing" in "their own careers" undermines the united family concept.
4) Bigger Government. Because parents don't seem to be around, it's been up to the government to raise and supervise children. That has brought forth the predictable results.
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