Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Girlification and my Housewife Notions

I read an opinion piece this morning by feminist Polly Toynbee (I think it's safe to call her a feminist).  The article focuses on the "girlification" that continues to happen in Western culture, in spite of advances made by the feminist movement.  

It is always interesting for me to read these thoughts from women who were alive and actively involved in the feminist movement's rise in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  So many of them are still passionately focused on the benchmark ideals of the movement: equal wages for working women, gender neutrality in child rearing, shared home labor, etc.  Many, like Toynbee, feel discouraged that more progress has not been made.

I find myself filled with mixed feelings when I read their views, for many of the same reasons that I am currently wrestling with my occupation (see previous post).  I was born in the '80's, a full decade after the movement began, and am therefore way too young to have that nostalgic collective memory of revolution that still fuels them.  I've certainly inherited a righteous indignation for underpaid women, and I've even experienced some gender discrimination myself.  I can remember balking when a woman I once knew made the statement that "all mothers should stay home with their children," and getting fairly irked at a political seminar when the speaker focused only on what young men can do to prepare for office (hello!  did he see the women sitting in front of him?!).

On the other hand, I find myself gravitating toward the role of the domestic housewife--a role solidly rejected by feminists--and even see potential for it to contribute to the greater good.  I suppose this is why I noticed Toynbee's article in the first place.

I don't want to be guilty of only looking at the world through the eyes of feminist vs. traditionalist.  That is a tired argument and one I'm not sure I want to jump into (although perhaps I already have in spite of myself).   But I suppose I am guilty of looking at the world through the eyes of a woman.  It is potentially a narrow view, but we all have to pick some kind of lens to see things through.  

Anyway, more fodder on housewives to come!

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