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.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
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.
Look, I don't know about you, but it was always obvious to me that the whole idea was total crap. Did you SEE anyone having it all? I never did.
I think it is kind of pathetic that their idea of "perfect"
is someone who gets everything she wants. Perfect is someone who gives without regard for themselves. It is
someone who can love their neighbor as themselves. I'm encourage that the people on this board can see the
truth about motherhood. It is a full time job and a
very rewarding one.
My understanding is that the suicide attempt rate is higher for women than men, men are simply more "successful" at it, if I can use such a phrase.
When is your debate handbook coming out in hardcopy format? E-mail me with info when it's available!
I got married to a widower with two kids. They had first been traumatized by the divorce of he and his first wife, and then by the death by auto accident of the first wife and their eldest sister (everybody but hubby was in the same car).
I decided right away that I had to be a SAHM...and it has been the right decision.
It does mean we don't get to do the Cancun getaway vacations. Or buy cars as often as some of his co-workers.
Our culture has so convinced us that various things are not luxuries, but necessities that we have been willing as a culture to sacrifice our children so we can have our goodies.
My kids may not have every CD or the designer name clothes they want. But the one left at home got to get rigged out for LaCrosse because this is what he wanted to do, and has good performance shoes for skateboarding and Lacrosse. So he wears walmart jeans so we can afford the important stuff? So he doesn't have his own cell phone?
He also doesn't have cable tv (cause I found out what they were watching behind my back), or some other toys. This is life.
I had a career as an English instructor at the community college level but gave it up for more important things (first to take care of my mother her last three years of life, and then to take care of my husband and step children).
Instant gratification and self-fulfilment at the expense of everybody and anybody were values the 20th century deemed most important and we see where it has led us.
Choose wisely people. The world you create around you is one you bequeath to your children.
You may be right....proving the earlier point further....
Actually, you know I have been an odd person in looking forward to being with my daughter when she is older. Not to be her friend, but to show her then all the amazing stuff I have learned in my life. One can't wax mooney about Lord of the Rings with a five year old. I didnt look at my daughter as a chore when she was a baby, but I was impatient to get beyond the babyhood to find out what a mind my daughter has...and boy is it sharp now!! :D
What's your answer for women who go through college on loans and have to work for a period of years to pay them off? It's not as easy a decision as some would like to paint it.
The bigger problem is that the entire education-career track is structured more for men than for women. Perhaps what makes more sense is 1) for women to start schooling earlier and 2) to think about advanced schooling after they've had children, not before.
It's not black and white, everybody is different.
They're too busy worrying about the size of their penis.
That certainly would explain quite a number of life's big questions.....
My 20 year old asked me once when she was 12 if I thought I was "wasting my life" by staying home and "just" taking care of 5 kids. I sat her down and told her that I made a choice and enjoyed what I did. Then I told her all the things she wouldn't have if I worked, like a mom who was home when she came home from school, a home to have her friends come to, dinner together at 6 pm, fresh baked desserts, a lovely garden to play in, etc...
She is now hoping to marry the man of her dreams and (horrors!) wants to stay home and raise their children!
I'll take that as a compliment.
And then when they are 22 they tell you that they are glad you did what you did for them. I had my 22 year old son tell me the other day, again, thanks for not spoiling them when they were growing up.
It seems as if the kids who got everything handed to them find it harder to survive out there in the big, bad, real world.
Oh my gosh!! It's so fun to have them older and have intelligent conversations!
THis election cycle was a fantastic example. We had great dinner conversations about kids at school and their views. It turns out that the kids at the local public high school are, according to a poll taken by the school newspaper, more pro Bush than Kerry. It was just that the Kerry people were more vocal. What an eye opener for the highschoolers in the fam.
I love this age!!! (14 - 22)
Tough issue - my wife and I are grappling with the stay at home issue now.
We both rely on two incomes in order to make ends meet. She recently started working evenings, and stays at home with our two kids during the day. I work days, and care for the kids in the evening. We've eliminated the large day-care expense, but now we see each other 'in-passing' five out of seven days a week. It's not been the easiest transition, but we're adapting.
Ideally, she would like to stay at home full time, but my salary does not warrant that luxury. If my salary was doubled, well...there would be no issue here. I'm hopeful that the future will bring some upswing to the current job market.
"Look, I don't know about you, but it was always obvious to me that the whole idea was total crap. Did you SEE anyone having it all? I never did."
Obviously "Dian(n)as" think alike, LOL!
I totally agree. I'm GRATEFUL to my Mom for tending to us when we were girls. Of course, she hit the road when we were done with High School, but, she did her time and since we were both self-sufficient, she was entitled to do whatever she wanted with the rest of her days.
I put family life on hold for my military career until I was in my mid-30's, then married a man who had one son and didn't want any more kids. I then got to do all the fun "Soccer Mom" stuff, and raised two of my nephews during that time as well. Our son is now a Senior, and we're still young enough (mid-40's) to pursue our next careers, or whatever we want to do, be it travel, lay on the couch all day or dig in the garden.
You can have all sorts of "lives" inside of one lifetime. Women of my generation were totally conned by the NOW and NAG hags, if they bought into this BS. Hopefully the younger generation can learn from that mistake and lead a fuller, slower-paced life of their OWN design.
I worked for 15 years and have not worked for the past 10 years. I can tell you there is no comparison. I loved being able to take my children to and from school, help in their classrooms, make sack lunches and cook dinner. I have great kids and a wonderful husband.
I had an awesome career and a job most would envy but it all pales in comparison to my my years as a stay at home mom and housewife. My youngest is now a senior in high school but I will not ever go back to work. I would rather be poor.
Don't be silly. The ladies couldn't get men to listen to this kind of talk. ;)
a rat is a dog is a pig is a feminist (with profound apologies to rats, dogs and pigs)...
Moral Absolutes Ping - The discussion down the thread is interesting as well, to those of us concerned about the breakdown of the family.
Feminism has seriously harmed our culture - it is based on the false concept that women are exactly like men (or better, really) and have the same needs, wants, abilities, and so on. It really is based on envy of men (and IMHO, envy of God, the Ultimate Dominator!). Any idea or philosophy based on envy and anger is doomed to destroy everything it touches.
Girls in schools (and in movies and TV) are indoctrinated very heavily in feminist lies. Girls are pushed into sciences, law enforcement and tehcnology fields that are normally considered "male" fields while boys are pushed into being emasculated drones on Ritalin.
Who else can be a good mother except a woman? And it is very difficult to be a good mother while holding down a job.
"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".
Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
And I didn't even mention homeschooling, or the fact that feminism was started by a bunch of man hating avowed lesbians.
Your husband (and kids!) are so lucky they found you!
"The bigger problem is that the entire education-career track is structured more for men than for women."
Please elaborate upon that claim. How is it structured more for men than women, exactly? What would change if women designed the career and academic calendar exactly as they wished?
Feminists don't have any boobies. They're all flat :^)
They usually wait until divorce court when answering charges resting on the foundation in same (but never openly mentioned in so many words). Then dealing with a life of varying degrees of poverty for the next 18- years kind of takes instant priority.
So naturally, you wouldn't hear much.
Then you have never known men, but instead only boys.
As someone who suffers from extreme chronic pain, I take an anti-inflamatory drug for, I do not complain, I do not cry, I just live with it best I can and keep an eye on possible future treatments.
By the way, this is meant to politely inform you, and is not intended as a complaint.
Absolutely! I was at home for 10 years. When my youngest was 4, we started seeing salary cuts at hubby's job. I hadn't planned to get back to school until the little one was 6. Things happen.
But now I am 35, with a 12 year old and a 6 year old and I graduate next year. I'm going to teach so that I can still be home when they are home. I've got all kinds of time left to work!
Very soon. I have been checking out the proofs, the past couple of weeks, and making some corrections--also at the on line version.
On the subject of this thread, I would like to add a bit of perspective. While Feminism is a form of madness, it is not responsible for all of the things here attributed. Basically, Feminism is an attack on femininity--although it is not portrayed to young women as such. But some of the things for which it is being blamed here, are actually reflections of a survival trait--hardly something to be attributed to the Feminists, who deny reality.
The fact is that the normal female woman will tend to be more anxiety prone than her mate. It arises in nature's preparation for motherhood--for being always on the alert. We can go out and fall asleep under a tree, and get eaten by wolves, or a tiger--if in tiger country. But the woman has to worry about more than just herself in the natural state.
The tragedy is that unscrupulous theorists--and frankly, some not so emphathetical doctors--want to treat a higher normal anxiety level as a problem; when it obviously is not. In this, one particular at least, the excessive prescribing of tranquilizers is as much the young woman's enemy as is the feminist.
Now before anyone passing by feels the need to jump on this, I hope they take a moment to reflect, and they will see a great deal of confirmation, not only in human interaction, but in the behavior of other mammals, as well.
Thanks for the ping!
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