For the Sake of "Women"
by Lynn Siprelle
Being a mother, I'm just plain tired in general. But these days I'm especially tired of people like Hirschman and her counterpart, Leslie Bennetts. They can both bite me, and so can the media that keeps setting these tired old arguments up.
I am tired of being told to be a good little feminist and do what's good for "women" instead of what's good for my family and myself. I am tired of being told I'm betraying the sisterhood by staying home. I am tired of listening to academics and pundits, claiming to be feminists, holding on to classist second wave claptrap like that espoused by these two. And I am most tired of the focus being put upon individual women rather than the society that makes it increasingly impossible for families to exist these days.
Why must academic feminists keep buying into the corporatist framework--that the only work worth doing is paid work? The corporatist philosophy leads to the dissolving of both familial and community ties, and everything becomes for sale, everything is a commodity. Motherhood is for sale--for that's what a daycare is, isn't it? Paid motherhood? I am not a commodity. You are not a commodity. Our children and our partners are not commodities.
The fight is not with other women. The fight is with a media, a corporate structure and a government that insist on fracturing our social ties to each other, that make us ever more dependent on corporations and government for every little thing, instead of ourselves, our families and our neighbors. I refuse to participate in that. In fact, I'm doing everything I can to rebuild those ties.
How do we do that? Obviously, political involvement, even if it's as simple as voting, is key. But here's an old chestnut from the Second Wave: "The Personal Is Political." At no time has that been more true than it is today. Today we have to take individual, personal, political acts to fight back against the forces that want to divide us up into solitary consuming units, individuals instead of families and communities.
- It is a political act to stay home.
- It is a political act for you and your partner to put family first.
- It is a political act to support mama-owned home businesses.
- It is a political act not to shop at WalMart if you can possibly avoid it, and I know in some parts of the world (jennye) you don't have much of a choice.
- It is a political act, and a patriotic act, to use less energy.
- It is a political act to make community.
- It is a political act not just to grow your own food, but increasingly, to COOK your own food--how crazy is THAT, when you're bucking the mainstream by cooking from scratch!
- And it goes without saying that civic involvement is a political act. Whether you're home or not, find the time to be involved, somehow.
I will never consider myself a consumer first and a person second. I will never consider myself a bad feminist for staying home. I will never stop fighting the corporatist agenda on both the personal level and the community level. And I will never stop yelling at the top of my lungs that traditional women's work has worth, whatever the gender of whoever does it, not as long as I have a breath.