Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

Cross-posted at Shannon’s blog The Radical Housewife.

 

Hi there!  My name is Shannon, and I am a feminist housewife.

 

This is me in my kitchen.  Behind my arm is –NO JOKE–a loaf of homemade gluten-free bread.  I am a housewife, and a damn good one!

Do you like my apron?  it’s from the HOTDISH Militia, a group that fundraises for abortion clinics with tasty casseroles–the acronym stands for Hand Over The Decision It Should (be) Hers.  I support affordable access to the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, including abortion on demand, without apology.  That’s feminist, baby!

Combine my job with my passion, et voilà: you get me, a feminist housewife!

I didn’t aspire to be a feminist housewife when I grew up.  As a child, I wanted to write books.  As a child, I assumed that writing books would magically make money appear.

Ha, ha.

Six-year-old Shannon can be blamed for her ignorance, but what excuse does Kelly Makino, a self-identified feminist, have?  From New York Magazine’s March 17, 2013 cover story “The Retro Wife”:

The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Oh Mrs. Makino!  You retrograde goofball, you.  In case you missed this lecture in Women’s Studies 101, let me break it down for you. Choosing your choice is feminist, sure!  But GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

I can’t pick on only Kelly, though, for the author of the piece, Lisa Miller, makes some mind-boggling observations of her own:

I prepare our daughter’s lunch box every morning with ritualistic care, as if sending her off to school with a bologna sandwich made by me can work as an amulet against all the pain of my irregular, inevitable absences. I believe that I have a special gift for arranging playdates, pediatrician appointments, and piano lessons….

 

 

“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?”

Again, I must ask: what makes a girl a GIRL?  Is it a baby?  An apron?  A kickass banana bread recipe?  A Pinterest account?

What makes a boy a BOY?  A wife?

I made a choice to be my kids’ caregiver, but that choice wasn’t made in a vacuum.  My hubby and I had to weigh some very harsh realities.  Who made more money?  Who would probably ALWAYS make more money?  Who could count on consistent work for the next two decades?  If you guessed the BOY, you’re right!  You win a wife.*

Understanding how patriarchal capitalism works is feminist. GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

For the record, I am terrible at arranging playdates.  My vag has nothing to do with it–I am not only forgetful, I hate using the telephone.  I’d rather bake you a rice-tapioca-soy flour loaf.  If you want our kids to hang out, you’d better have my e-mail–or better yet, Matt’s!

All of this is very funny in the echo chamber of the internets.  I really don’t care whether Kelly Makino, Lisa Miller, or hell, Sheryl Sandberg is a housewife or not.  I DO care when one pretty white New Yorker’s lifestyle is trotted out as “proof” that women are this or that and feminism is a failure blah blah blah, because you know that articles like these delight conservatives eager to push back on women’s rights,  especially reproductive rights.  Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential contender, has already said he’d support a fetal personhood bill that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.  Without control over their fertility, women would be stuck in the kitchen making hotdish (and this is the important part) whether they want to or not.

It’s a future too horrible to contemplate.

Maybe I’ll cook a pie.  That would make me feel better.

 

*offer not valid for women

 

Telling children the truth

By Andrea Sand, Affirmative Action Chair

After watching the immoral flood the capitol to protest equality, I feel it entirely appropriate to co-opt one of their signs:

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Don’t lie to children.

Really.  DON’T LIE TO CHILDREN.  Stop the hypocrisy now.

If we were truly concerned with children not having two parents of opposing genders, single mothers and single fathers would not be left in charge of their children. If we were truly concerned with the sanctity of marriage, we would not even entertain the idea of divorce being legal.

We are not talking of currency that will lose value from inflation and being over-printed–we are talking about the quality of life for our fellow Americans.

This is to the little girl who testified that same-sex marriage would take one of her parents away:

I’m so, so sorry your parents have brainwashed you. We are not trying to say your family is any less valid because it’s one man, one woman, and one precious little life, and we are not trying to remove any of your parents from your life; what we are asking is that we have the right to form our own families. I hope you never grow up to feel left out, that you never feel alone. I hope your days are long and full of joy; truly, I do. However, there are people out there, men who love men and women who love women, and in between that is a whole broad, beautiful spectrum of adults who love one another. THAT IS THE TRUTH.  All we want is the chance to commit to one another for the rest of their lives in the same manner your parents did.

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The need of the majority to discriminate should not be allowed to trump the rights of the minority who simply want to be given the same chance at having that white picket fence, three car garage, and two and a half kids. There are enough children waiting to find homes, literally starving with the hope that one day, someone or a pair of someones will love them just for existing. These children are tired of looking in through the windows at the happy family sitting down to dinner by the fire; they deserve the right to be welcomed in out of the cold. How dare these falsely pious call themselves followers of God or Christ if they are comfortable allowing innocent children to suffer needlessly because they as adults cannot accept people who are different from them.

Marriage is not just the act of having a ceremony presided over by a holy man, it is the union of two individuals in the eyes of a greater, more earthly power: a court of law. We do not live by the holy code of Leviticus, and we do not live under Sharia law. We live under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. We live under the Declaration o f Independence, independent of religious law and in  the good graces of secularism. Nobody is going to force any religious institution to do something that violates their beliefs; just as no religion should be allowed to violate the rights of a person not of their belief. You can keep us away from the altar of the falsely pious, but you cannot keep us away from the altar of love.

We have come so far in nearly 400 years, and yet we seem to still be right where we were when we came here. Howdare we call ourselves a civilized nation when we treat our own so barbarically. How dare we.

 

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TAKE ACTION TODAY!  Tell your legislators, your governor, and everyone in your community that the time for marriage equality is NOW!

 Do it for the children!