Living The Dream (With A Man)

Some men have perceived the feminist movement as a great injustice to their rights to be served dinner, have the house vacuumed more than once every two weeks and their feet rubbed frequently (among other things). 
 
It is no secret that women’s financial independence and access to financial power has redefined the American family and how it functions. The feminist movement is credited for opened doors for women to reach their fullest potentional. This process has been blamed for the “breakdown” of the traditional family. However, this popular complaint lacks a certain degree of perspective.
 
I liken the disruption to the traditional male/female roles in society and family to one big “growing pang”. Wars do far more damage with less benefits to society than the feminist movement. Countries that limit feminine influence to “inside the home only” tend to look a lot like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. (i.e. the worst countries in the world).
 
Feminism has produced an interesting male/female dynamic. While women take on life in a world with “equal opportunities”,we are struggling to ligitimize the myth that women and men “are equal”. 
 
That’s right, men and women will never “be equal”. 
 
The term “equal in rights, dignity and opportunities” has evolved into the presumption that if women and men do the same things, they will automatically carry the same emotions, characteristics, physical abilities, desires and sexual interests. 
 
The goal for “being equal” has created wide-ranging opportunities for all but failed to make social and economic accomodations for gender differences that will be with us for all time.
   
With so much focus on attaining the rights previously enjoyed by men, we seem to be convinced that we should leave our womanhood and motherhood at the door of our houses. The strengths of both the feminine and masculine — regardless of gender assignments — are rarely exploited in the society at large but are highly complimentary.

 
There is greatness within our differences. But we have to be willing to accept that we are different.
 
At the most basic level, nature seems to have designed men and women to serve important roles in the continuity of life. In the freest of societies, we do not limit one’s roles based on gender assignments. Women may choose not to become mothers, some may choose live as men. A man may adopt a baby, or enjoy the lifetime partnership of another male. As such, we all have a choice as to whether or not we will participate in that continuity of life. The ability to make these choices as an individual is an important part of the feminist movement.
 
The fact is, most women and men still choose to participate in that process.  
 
For all of feminism’s advancements, there lacks an important consideration about a woman’s life. Women are finding themselves financially and socially under-prepared for the transition from woman to mother. Pregnancy and early child-rearing are still decidedly “woman’s work”. After eons, motherhood still bears little commercial value and will never be on a man’s to-do list anytime soon.
 
It was the experience of having a child that taught me, no matter how closely my opportunities were equal to a man’s, a man could never be equal to me in this way, as a woman.
 
Allow me to explain my position further.
 
For a woman to be equal to a man, a man must want to be her equal. As many women with loving, caring husband’s can probably attest, men generally have little-to-no desire to “be” our equals, to bear our children, to nurse them, to clip their nails, to seriously sacrifice their hobby time, etc.
 
Even the best, most involved, eager man yields to his partner when there is a new baby on the scene. A mother stands with her new baby in the one place on earth moms hold limitless power. Personally, it felt nice. I found myself wishing that I could carry the same feeling out into the world with me.
 
Oh, who am I kidding?  Clearly I still do. I write this blog after all!  :)
 
It was after I had my child that I realized how mothers become dependent on others for assistance. They need a good partner/people, good food, shelter, safety. In spite of all that I had as an independent woman, as a mother I still needed the basics and I needed help. In this time, my long-time “latin lover” and husband-to-be (baby first these days, you know) proved to be, as always, reliable, supportive and full of integrity.
  
It was actually very sexy.
    
The best compliment I ever get from my husband, is not “your ass looks great” or “your hair looks pretty” — but I love when he says those things, too.
  
It’s: “Thank you for giving me my son”.
 
That makes me feel amazing! All of it — all wrapped up in male appreciation for the female me. I own it and I love it! 
 
I have the support of a great husband who believes very deeply in the importance of a woman’s financial independence and self-determination, especially when she has to care for a child.
 
But not every man sees this value in women, much less “just-a-moms” like me.
 
While we have the freedom to choose to be a partner, wife or mother we are still navigating a complicated world that is not of our design. While the greediest of men continue to plot the framework of war and famine, women and mothers take on the brunt of twarting the worst motives in human nature — most of which are masterminded by the male persuasion.
 
Until a majority of men prove to be protective of all women, women’s defensive postures, the uncomfortable gender tension and women’s disdain of living within strict traditional female roles will likely continue. 
   
Ever self-protective and wary of male intention, years went by before I learned to appreciate a man for his good qualities. I was in constant competition on the professional side and  insecure on the emotional side. I used to worry endlessly about a man’s sexual faithfulness.
 
Now with the full faith and confidence I know as I share my life with a good man, I could care less.
 
These days some women’s conversations delving into a man’s sexuality — even masterbation — border on the edge of threatening castration. Click here for an example of one woman’s disdain for the new Sports Illustrated 3-D version.
 
It took awhile but I have matured to the point that I realize men and women may want different things in that area. A man’s interest in the female form will never go away. It is how we women can influence our society’s views of sexuality, feminine appeal, smarts, beauty or health that will determine how women are viewed in the future.
 
In spite of women’s greatest efforts, I sometimes wonder how effective we are in controlling a man’s sexual urges and interest in fidelity. If the media is any mark of interest, men are still very drawn to beautiful women. I find myself wondering how we may be can make that fact work in a all women’s favor.
     
What are we to make now of the new American family in it’s various forms? Dare I say that families in America may be stronger and better than ever? Personally, I have started to see many of my peers choosing to get married or remain in long-term partnerships.  
 
Families are increasingly built by partners who choose to be together instead of forced to live along strict social and religious dictates. I foresee this as a positive thing in the long-term. Families that are bonded by empowered and caring partners, protectors and mutual advocates seems like a decent foundation on which to build an enlightened nation.
 
And when a man choses to nurture his wife’s desire for self-determination, she may in turn chose to admit a degree of satisfaction in nurturing her family and happiness in the home. She may even choose to serve dinner, vacuum more once every two weeks and rub her husband’s feet frequently (among other things).

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/catt/ Cathy Brown

    What a load of crap. Complementarism? Women’s ‘natural’ place? There is nothing in this entire post other than an anti-feminist rant about how you think women and mothers should fullfill traditional roles and should ‘naturally’ be happy. As if all women and men are the same and fall into your stereotypes and as if trans and non-binary people do not exist. Harf. I might as well be reading Phyllis Schlafy. How the fuck did this nonsense get through moderation?

    • honeybee

      Wow personal attacks and offensive much?

      I might have reacted the same at one time but now that I too have a small child and am going through much of the same as this poster, I find myself agreeing with much of what was written. I’ve been terribly afraid to admit that on this site but your post prompted me to do so.

      As in all cases, nothing is easy and nothing is black and white. Furthermore, we have to think on an individual level. For some women, taking on a more traditional role may make sense and may provide alot of happiness and satisfaction. Doesn’t mean all women must live this way, but we should not hate on those that do choose this path. Otherwise you haven’t changed the situation and repressiveness of women at all – you’ve just replaced one set of standards with another.

      • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

        Honeybee,

        Thank you for sharing. It’s important that all feminists who are not with children especially consider what we are experiencing now as mothers. We are truly hitting a wall and having to do it all.

        Our husbands are helping but they are fundamentally different and it is causing mothers to take on too much while the work place does not account for motherhood either.

        I think we should value what men bring to the table when they are showing us respect, love — in their way which may not be cooking and cleaning — and accept that our gender differences are affecting mothers to their detriment. Many want to participate in the nurturing of our family more than is seems culturally and socially acceptable. And work but we have to define what motherhood means to our society. Something is truly stirring out here.

        Your additional feedback on anything I say here would be welcome.

    • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

      To the moderator, I accidentally pressed “report comment” when I intended to hit reply. I did not intend to report this comment.

      This post is in conjunction with my other post, Living The Dream (Like A Man). It may surprise you that I am actually a full-time working mom with a child that is 3 years old who enjoys all rights and privileges as any modern woman.

      My post actually delves into to complexity of women’s lives today as they become mothers. Feel free to learn more about the “boots on the ground” experiences of many mothers out in the world today as I respond to comments.

      Thank you for the warm welcome.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelsholiday/ Rachel

    I really appreciate your post. I think that there are a lot of ways to be happy as a woman. The key thing (and I think you commented on this very well) is to choose what you want. You chose to have a baby with your husband and your relationship is stronger for it (at least, that’s what I took.) Another woman may choose to stay single and have a career, and she could be 100% happy about that. There are different choices in between, but it’s making those choices that are going to make us happy.

    • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

      Thank you Rachel,

      That is key — fully access to opportunities and choices for all men, women and mothers!

      What many fail to consider is how many choices are taken off the table when women do the unthinkable: bear a child, want to nurture that child in a way that is instinctive to her, and influence her society professionally, politically or spiritually.

      We are having to reconcile the complexity of our emotions and physical abilities to bear children with goals of “being equal” to men. The mechanisms in our society are not in place to do this well. Our mothers are burning out!

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    I see some issues here.

    “While women take on life in a world with “equal opportunities”,we are struggling to ligitimize the myth that women and men ”are equal”.

    That’s right, men and women will never “be equal”.”

    This point is a bit of a nitpick, the idea is to promote “equal opportunity.” On the other hand, the idea regarding whether people themselves are equal is something that perhaps should be emphasized as irrelevant. It is correct to identify that there is no mandate to be equal, but I don’t think it is necessary to affirm that there will not be equality. It’s not that the assertion isn’t true (in fact, it almost certainly is true, at least regarding certain characteristic averages), but placing emphasis on the point sort of invites people to emphasize that point, and they may use it (wittingly or unwittingly) to distract themselves/others from paying full diligence to the “equal opportunity” mandate.

    “Women are finding themselves financially and socially under-prepared for the transition from woman to mother.”

    You can probably make a similar statement regarding men and fatherhood by holding them to a feminist standard of responsibility. It is probably true that women may be more overwhelmed in the process in terms of current social standards, but I believe this reflects society implementing feminist attitudes in an incomplete and uneven manner (the average/expected workplace responsibilities for men and women have converged more than household responsibilities — but I think the answer may rest in alleviating average workplace workloads for both men and women, so women can carry a more appropriate load overall, and so men won’t get overwhelmed by increasing their housework responsibilities to include ~half the total).

    “The goal for “being equal”…”

    I don’t think this is quite this is the goal most feminists have. There is a tendency to identify things that are unequal and cite them as problems, but they follow the presumption that at the very least that something however far from equality would not hold if “equal opportunity” was truly in force. It cannot be a proven assumption, but such a trend (such as how 17% of people in Congress are women) can be highly-suggestive of unequal treatment (at least at some stage), and this sort of circumstantial evidence can invite people to inspect the system more closely (and check related systems to see if they are applying a standard of equal opportunity).

    “After eons, motherhood still bears little commercial value and will never be on a man’s to-do list anytime soon.”

    I’m not sure “commercial value” is really a go-to measure for anything, but raising children provides indirect commercial value, just like education and law enforcement do. These services support commerce — raising children and education help produce the workforce that fills the available jobs (many of which will directly concern commerce itself). Although I don’t really know what you mean by the phrase “will never be on a man’s to do list.” Of course a man isn’t going to be a mother. He’s going to be a father (about as often as a woman would be a mother), and he may very well be one with an active or majority parenting responsibility.

    “men generally have little-to-no desire to “be” our equals, to bear our children, to nurse them, to clip their nails, to seriously sacrifice their hobby time, etc.”

    * “bear… children” — it’s a physical impossibility, so it can’t be helped (and contriving a way to make it possible would be expensive and would add an intrinsic danger for the child and probably the parents). It’s not to say that men can’t contribute in other ways to share the workload.

    * “nurse [children]” — another physical impossibility, although bottle-feeding becomes possible later on.

    * “clip their nails” — We cut our nails. I mean, there is a contingent who bite their fingernails nails and do something weird with their toenails, but they are a minority.

    * “sacrifice their hobby time” — Sacrifice for what? If it’s to help with their fair share of the kids or other housework, that’d be the feminist thing to do — it is in-line with “equal opportunity” and equal responsibility, and they’re going to be setting aside however much time it takes. If you’re asking for them to sacrifice hobby time to do an activity with you that they don’t care for but for your pleasure, then it’s going to have to balanced by some other favor. Of course, it may be possible that you just want to do things together with him, but he may interested in doing things by himself or with other people, and the two of you either need to work out a suitable arrangement if you are going to stay together.

    Much beyond that point I don’t think really deals with feminist goals. Attributing violence to men is not a feminist value — it’s to subvert the “greedy” people responsible for that suffering (“greedy” being the merit of interest here). Broadly disapproving of male (or female) masturbation is not a feminist value. I also do not see the need for gender differentiation on the later points. Why talk about men who enjoy the female form and not women who enjoy the male form (never mind same-sex pairings)? Why talk about male “infidelity” and not female “infidelity” (particularly considering that the two are more or less as common as each other)? To that point, why do you want to broadly control men’s sexual urges? Is it not enough for men to channel their urges and feelings responsibly? And what about women’s urges? Where is the “equal opportunity?”

    You have some ideas you have strong feelings about, but I think you misunderstand what feminism aims for and especially what feminism is responsible for. It is unfair to attribute the status quo to feminism, because the status quo is still shaped immensely by past and present anti-feminist institutions, and the particular combination of changes made concerning feminism are somewhat unfair (like how women tend to do more workplace work but not sufficiently less household work), even though the totality of what feminism stands for is quite good (which aims for women and men to be free to truly share in both types of work).

    • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

      Hi Matt,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      I think it is time to emphasize the “being equal” part. “Be equal” is all I have ever heard. This means we all follow a path similarly: education, career, 401K. Men and women can both do those things equally. I am very grateful for it.

      But women still hold an very un-equal share of the responsibility (which is powerful) of bearing children/nursing them, etc. We are not effectively planning financially and emotionally women for the realities of what we face as mothers today. Any accommodation in society for mothers in the workforce is viewed as exceptionalism. Any mention of mothers who love nurturing her child and family is viewed as a threat to the feminist goals. This is stressing moms out! We are doing it all. Just look at all the magazines — many are trying fix moms (time management, healthy meals, etc.) resulting from the pressures we are facing in society to do everything on the feminist agenda while we stand frustrated with men who are not taking on the roles feminism has laid out as fair. There is alot of grey within our equal partnerships as parents.

      “Regarding men and fatherhood by holding them to a feminist standard of responsibility”. This standard and our expectation that men meet a standard is a BIG problem. Aside from using bull-hooks and torture tactics, many men are not doing this and women are figuring out we need a new standard. Your implication of the workplace workload for both genders is spot on to me. I couldn’t agree more.

      I say that “motherhood still bears little commercial value”. I mean that as to people who seem to make the rules in the world. You point out exactly why motherhood should… as they are creating the future tax payers, consumers etc. Yet, motherhood gets so little. There are few incentives for educated women to leave paying jobs so that we can be moms. No maternity pay, negligible maternity leave. And because men cannot physically do it, the negative impacts consistently fall on the woman. But since the feminist model is highly egalitarian, addressing the difficulty of mothers is tricky.

      Yes, there are exceptions. Some men are doing alot. Most are not. We are tired of patting everyone else on the head for doing what a majority of moms are doing anyway.

      “Clipping the nails” or biting (whatever your preference ;) is a term in the mom-blog world relating to who is still taking on the details in the house. Who is clipping the kids nails and doing the little things that need to be done? Mostly it still moms.

      Men/partners can help with bottlefeeding but women will still have to get up in the middle of the night to pump anyway or else everyone will be sleeping in a milk-bath, so she may as well get up with the baby if she is nursing. The movement toward nursing is a factor here. Many who want to are not able to because of work/time conflicts. This can affect the overall health of our children.With so much autism and allergies, mothers are becoming ever viligent on this issues.

      The comment about congress is one close to my heart. The un-equal factor in representation is not that they are women — it’s that women have children! I have tried to look into running for office locally. I’ll have to fund-raise to get elected to a position that is volunteer/unpaid. With work responsibilities and a desire to be involved with your child and family conflicts with the realities of what most women with children live with every day. I need to work. If all elected offices paid a wage and we did not have to fundraise, I truly believe we would see many more women and women with children in politics.

      Women do sacrifice hobby time, disportionate to men, even with the most wonderful men. I’m trying to get us all to wake up from a dreamworld where a majority of men are splitting this all 50/50 down the line. Many moms on the blogs will write about how their kids calls for “mommy” while they sit on daddy’s lap! It’s cute, but mom’s personal interests in the house tend to evaporate when a child is around.

      The reason I attribute violence to men is because if you look at the news, who do you see in the streets? Who are starting the wars? Who is essentially ignored — moms?

      I understand that the feminist view holds that we do not make distinctions between genders but it does not mean that world works that way. I want to build on the reality of what we know today when we go from women who have exercised every benefit as independent women to mothers. Gender differences do exist and have value.

      There is nothing wrong in find ways to work with the best of those differences. Feminism would expand it’s reach if it would recognize it as a factor. Otherwise, many women will be compelled to investigate Sarah Palin’s brand of feminism. We may not like that, but she has a HUGE platform.

      The sexual aspect is absolutely worth considering. Men and women may enjoy similar sexual urges, interests, etc. But when a woman is 7 months pregnant and until a good 3+ months post-pardem she may have a hugely reduced interest in sex! That is a 6 month dry spell for a man.

      Some women are very insensitive to that, so they subject themselves to uncomfortable sex so that her husband does not masterbate to images of other, perhaps more beautiful women. Personally, I was ready to hand over a magazine to my husband. The fatigue that comes with having children wears so much on women these days.

      Equality should not imply sameness.

  • http://feministing.com/members/starzki6/ ellestar

    I’m going to agree with some of the other commenters here and say you might want to check your stereotypes, heteronormativity, and basic misunderstanding of feminism before you do another critique on feminism.

    First of all, you make a common mistake of conflating “equality” with “being exactly the same.” Let me give you an example. If I want equality from my health care provider, I don’t want the same examinations that she would give a man (prostate evaluation, examination of the penis for STDs, etc.). I want equal care, or examinations of my different sex parts that help keep me healthy (breast exams, pap smears, examination of my vulva for STDs, etc.). I don’t want the exact same care; I want equal care.

    This same principle goes for all other equal rights. You say men and women aren’t “equal” when you mean that men and women aren’t the “same.” Feminists aren’t claiming that men and women are the same. We’re saying that we are equal, and as such, deserve to have our voices and experiences heard and respected as much as men’s voices and experiences are. That means that your experiences as a mother and wife who is supporting her husband is every bit as important as the work men often do.

    I also have to say that much of your post was quite offensive to me.

    With so much focus on attaining the rights previously enjoyed by men, we seem to be convinced that we should leave our womanhood and motherhood at the door of our houses.

    I would like scientifically gathered evidence for this statement, please. Also, who exactly is “we”?

    It was the experience of having a child that taught me, no matter how closely my opportunities were equal to a man’s, a man could never be equal to me in this way, as a woman.

    Again, you’re equating “equality” as being “exactly the same.”

    While the greediest of men continue to plot the framework of war and famine, women and mothers take on the brunt of twarting the worst motives in human nature — most of which are masterminded by the male persuasion.

    Ugh. I find your the way you separate the genders men=warlike women=savior really offensive. I’m sure that there are just as many mothers who are encouraging greed and war in their children as there are men who promote the same ideals.

    I used to worry endlessly about a man’s sexual faithfulness.

    And I’m sure many men worry endlessly about women’s sexual faithfulness. Men have not cornered the market when it comes to cheating.

    A man’s interest in the female form will never go away.

    Except for those men who, you know, don’t give a flying flip for women’s female forms.

    If the media is any mark of interest, men are still very drawn to beautiful women.

    I think it’s dangerous to make this leap. Also, what is marked as “beautiful” changes over time. It’s not only men who are buying into the idea of “beauty.” Women are just as much invested in what is beautiful and just as unforgiving when they feel those standards of beauty are not being met.

    While I agree with the gist of your post, that equality for women may mean that some women choose more traditional, familial roles, I think you’re overreaching with the ways you support this idea. You conflate, use your own experiences to represent a royal “we,” and you fall back on some really heinous stereotypes which I can’t abide. I just wish you had been more responsible in your claims because what you’re arguing for is actually what most feminists are arguing for and you’re doing us no favors with this post.

    • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

      Hi Ellestar,

      Thank you for your sharing your thoughts. Some of your comments tie to points mentioned by Matt. Hopefully, you will note the related responses. I kind of wrote a book :)

      For me equal care falls in the same category as does equal opportunities/access. You are right to point out sameness/equal equivalent. It’s worth considering how the term “equal” has been used during since feminism.

      “Feminists aren’t claiming that men and women are the same.”

      But that is other side of the coin about the complexity of womanhood that I think needs more exploration. How are we then “not the same”? How does this factor into the equal opportunities feminists want to create in the world? This must be considered. Otherwise, feminism could be excluding other facets of human existence that also has value.

      “We” leaving womanhood/motherhood at the door is statement about how society still tells us what to be in our feminine roles through media, but does not embrace our ability to influence economic and political processes as informed by our feminine perspectives. Men and women do have different perspectives and they all hold value.

      Men=warlike , women=saviors is offensive? That “equal” point of view is exactly why women as mothers continue hold such little value for all the work they do. Women are keeping things together — in war zones around the world! They do not get credit for it! Men while may be offensive to say that men make up 93% of felons? The best way to change men into peaceful advocates is to improve the lives of theirs mothers. Moms are the unsung heroes!

      True about the cheating thing. But a woman whose just born a man’s child is less likely than the man to run out and cheat at that time, with painful crotch and all. Many women worry about partner faithfulness during this time. Some men do stray when a woman is tired and occupied with her child.

      My post is not about gay men’s interest in women. It’s about women, motherhood and how their real lives the men they choose to have children with. I’ll be sure to put “heterosexual men’s interest” next time to cover all of my bases on this site.

      You are right about this:

      “Women are just as much invested in what is beautiful and just as unforgiving when they feel those standards of beauty are not being met.”

      Why has not feminism be able to quelch this? I propose that women still want to be valued in a different way than traditionally viewed in feminism: as feminine.

      I don’t really claim that what I propose here is what feminists want. In fact, it’s really about what feminists should consider part of the movement. How do we intregrate our lives with men? Yes, I’m speaking very generally. Making concessions for every person in the world would have made this post even longer and it ultimately hurts no one to shine a light on the real work conflicts moms are living with every day. I cannot do anything about other people’s feelings.

      • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

        First, I’m going to take bits from the reply from my post, and then I’ll get to this reply (they are separated by the ======). There are some topics of interest that I skipped in the first response that were later covered by a similar topic in the second response.

        “There are few incentives for educated women to leave paying jobs so that we can be moms. No maternity pay, negligible maternity leave. And because men cannot physically do it, the negative impacts consistently fall on the woman. But since the feminist model is highly egalitarian, addressing the difficulty of mothers is tricky.”

        Other countries have been far more proactive on these issues, and some of the solutions work like this:

        *) Women actually get paid maternity leave.
        *) In some cases, men have the option of taking “paternity leave.” This option allows fathers to take on a lot of responsibilities that really are just too much for a mother right before or right after having a baby, even if she isn’t working a job or tending to other children. The man can’t breastfeed, but he can change diapers, run errands, spend time with the baby (so the mother can actually sleep and so the baby actually develops an attachment to both parents), cook, clean, bath the baby, and do any other chores that need to get done. When the mother isn’t trying to do most of those tasks herself, she will be in better condition to recover and better fulfill her own responsibilities.

        “I’m trying to get us all to wake up from a dreamworld where a majority of men are splitting this all 50/50 down the line.”

        The idea of a 50/50 split in terms of responsibilities and success is a dream, but it’s not that it is a delusion that we must wake up from, but it is a goal for us to work towards. We aren’t there, and getting there won’t be easy (there will be lots of failed attempts along the way), but it is ideal, and it is worth working for.

        “I understand that the feminist view holds that we do not make distinctions between genders but it does not mean that world works that way.”

        And ultimately we want to change that. We don’t want to judge exactly one gender on how strong they are or exactly one gender on how compassionate they are. We should value strength and compassion based on how important they are to us, and not judge them differently between two people just because one is a man and one is a woman.

        =======

        “How are we then “not the same”? How does this factor into the equal opportunities feminists want to create in the world? This must be considered. Otherwise, feminism could be excluding other facets of human existence that also has value.”

        The purpose of “equal opportunity” is to provide an opportunity whenever possible when someone else has that opportunity — so this policy is built on *inclusion* rather than *exclusion*. Also, opportunities are not obligations, so you are free to decline opportunities so long as you fulfill enough responsibilities to qualify as a productive member of society. We want people to have more choices, not less.

        “Men and women do have different perspectives and they all hold value.”

        It is important to emphasize that women must have their perspectives recognized, but it is not because they are different from men, but because they are human beings, and because of the way each of them has ideas that compare and contrast with men and with other women. We need *everyone* accounted for so we can see the big picture.

        “Men=warlike , women=saviors is offensive?”

        (Whether or not you are religious, isn’t Jesus supposed to have been a savior?)

        The problem with painting this dichotomy is that it is, at best, a gross generalization, and at worst an anti-man (and by extension anti-feminist) insult. This article suggests that for quite some time that the difference in rate of support for war over a period of decades by gender has been around 8%, which shows men and women are more similar than different in terms of being “warlike.” How about support for a public health care option? Women supported it at a higher rate, but a majority of men support it as well, with rates of 62% and 54% respectively (again, an 8% difference). Both genders are more similar than different by this standard of being “saviors.” In the end, these ideas are about 8% truth and 92% prejudice — and a score of “8%” isn’t good.

        “Men while may be offensive to say that men make up 93% of felons?”

        There are also more non-Hispanic Whites than Hispanics and Blacks in the US combined, and yet there are both more Hispanic prisoners *and* more Black prisoners than non-Hispanic White prisoners in the US. And even though this true, I don’t think these trends have anything to do with the way non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks are born. There are other factors at play.

        Of course, this point also goes to show that the 8% in the previous two examples I gave are pretty much worthless for judging our biological nature. It pretty much shows that just about any study or measure (whether formal or anecdotal) on the differences between genders, race, etc are worthless for judging their natural character. The reality is that we have little clue about innate behavioral trends involving gender, because everyone is shaped and distorted by the environment we live in. We must make a better, more just, and more free environment before we can hope to come to credible conclusions.

        But even if there are differences, why should they matter? Even if taller people tend to be better basketball players, you still want to see which players are the best before making a team instead of just picking the tallest players. Can we not just work with *each individual* and then judge *each one* as required according to their merits rather than prejudices that we think result in those merits?

        “But a woman whose just born a man’s child is less likely than the man to run out and cheat at that time, with painful crotch and all.”

        It then stands that the women are then *more* likely to “cheat” at other times. In terms of heterosexual pairings, it still takes one of each to tango, so if you take away some opportunities in one place, they must show up in another.

        “I propose that women still want to be valued in a different way than traditionally viewed in feminism: as feminine.”

        I am not a woman, but I have women relatives who do not want to be valued according to how “feminine” they are. They want to be judged on their merits (or at least more on their merits), which can include “masculine” attributes like business success and athleticism and not-being-a-slave-to-vanity. I propose a different idea: each women wants to be judged… by however she wants to be judged. Each woman is different. And as long her own standards do not harm herself or encroach on the rights and beliefs of others, I am willing to respect those feelings (not to say that I will apply her standard to herself, but I hope my standard of judgment respects her beliefs and is nonetheless fair). Of course, men get to do the same and have to play by the same rules.

        ======

        Okay, I had to go back to the first post:

        “There is nothing wrong in find ways to work with the best of those differences.”

        I think the crux of the matter, and this topic has been danced around a bunch already, is that these differences exist in part because society pressures people to act in a way that causes these differences to occur. Many men are pressured to act out a macho ideal that goes against their nature, and many women are pressured to act out a feminine ideal that goes against their nature. They need to be free to break those rules. Women shouldn’t be expected to wear a bunch of make-up (because many don’t want to). Men shouldn’t be expected to care about football (because many don’t want to). The point is that we all need to be free to make choices (and yet we must all still do our fair share of the work).

        • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

          Again Matt, thanks for your thoughtful response.

          Norway is an excellent example generous maternity/paternity policies, complete with government grants and subsized childcare. I simply do not foresee this happening in America any time soon, since it “reeks of scary socialism”. An ideal maternity policy would also lend itself to criticism of “exceptionalism” for mothers by women and men (even feminists) which goes against egalitarian goals.

          It’s understandable. I have more of an idea around period sabbaticals and savings accounts that operate like 401Ks so that any American can take off for an extended period and preserve their jobs, whether it is to care for an aging relative, a child or just for personal enjoyment. There is a lot more to it but I think we are likely to see progress on that sort of thing before Norway’s system, which is “the best place in the world to be a mom” by the way. US is on the list at 28! Shameful!

          I will just refer back to my earlier comment about the logistics of getting mothers to influence the political landscape which is what is needed to get this all done (just look how great healthcare is working out):

          “I have tried to look into running for office locally. I’ll have to fund-raise to get elected to a position that is volunteer/unpaid but I have to work and raise my son.”

          I think changes can be made, but they have to encompass a “benefits for all model” if mother’s are going to get any benefit at all. That is one reason why I wanted to reach out to the readers on this site.

          =============================================
          Many of your points are making the distinction of the gender similarities and the ideals of making them blend, finding the similarities and not making sweeping generalizations. These are the goals of feminism and the rights of each person to self-determination. I do understand all of this.

          For some reason though, it has become politically incorrect to note that differences exist. It’s been my experience and the experience of many wives and mothers to feel extreme frustration when our men are not meeting our pre-determined idea of what a man should be doing per the feminist standard.

          At certain points some are guilty of (raising hand) resenting them for not changing into the men we want them to be — particularly when a new baby arrives. That is if the woman is still with the person she had a child with. If she is a single mother, she runs into a whole different set of difficult issues. She carries a very, big weight.

          All of these efforts at acheiving equal opportunities are being undertaken in a social and economic set up that is decidedly patriarchal and individualistic. I’m trying to make a point that mom’s need to consideration because that role holds significant value and we need help when we are moms. It is not something an individual should be expected to shoulder alone.

          As you say here: “We want people to have more choices, not less.”

          That should include mothers.

          “Differences exist in part because society pressures people to act in a way that causes these differences to occur.”

          I certainly can agree with you to the extent that people respond to how they are treated and social cues. I may have agreed with you on all of it before I had a son. That is when I saw that I could put 10 toys in front of him and he would still reach for the “boy” things.

          Thanks to education within feminism and activism my son can grow up to wear a dress and love a man. I’ll make sure that he is helpful and a responsible man/father. But I see that he does like “boy” things, too. I think there are great things about that.

          I realize that people you know may not want to be boxed in by a feminine ideal. That is totally fine but what is wrong with being “feminine”. What is being “feminine” anyway? Being a mom really made me think hard about this. I seriously think some women are wrestling with this part of their instincts, with womenhood and motherhood as it relates to sex. One only has to look at our amped-up sexualized culture and magazines that cater to this aspect of human nature to see that there is almost a hunger for “femininity” in the world. Is this a bad thing?

          I’m saying the feminine and masculine parts of us (regardless of gender) are good and complimentary. I think it is time to bring these differences together instead of denying that they exist.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    I just wanted to add that I agree with much that has already been written.

    And it is a particular kind of dark irony that the very judgmental attitudes you were speaking out against came out in the first unfortunate comment you received. Some people simply do not read for content. They read for words and phrases. Thank you for posting this, even though you ran the risk of such things happening.

  • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

    Thanks Nazza,

    My other post drew a greater deal of criticism. Fortunately, most commenters here have been fair and curious but none have responded to my comments.

    I find it interesting that one person here was almost afraid to agree with my post. As a mother she could agree with me on the complexity with which we live our lives today. For some reason most people ignore the dilemmas that mothers are facing and openly reject our feedback and ideas to make things better. Women’s needs and mother’s needs are quite different. It’s time to get real about that.

    Frankly, it’s disheartening to have my thoughts confirmed that moms are in fact “the ultimate outcasts” on a site called: feministing.com.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Hi again Heather,

    Reading this post, as well as your commentary on “equality” as defined with a sameness of achieving the same things in terms of “career and 401K plans”, Norway and such, I’m curious if you’ve ever looked at or read anything on subsets of feminism such as radical or anarcha feminism? I don’t really know what your political ideologies are other than the little I’ve gleaned from comments. But these are branches of feminism that seek to address patriarchy at it’s roots–which would, among other things, look at the culture which simultaneously devalues motherhood yet regulates the raising of children as being strictly “women’s work”. These branches are also critical of capitalism, which may be more of a root for a culture where 401K plans are more important than sufficient maternity leave for workers.
    We DO live in a society where motherhood and other women’s concerns are paid lip service to (think Bush proclaiming that motherhood is “the most important job a woman can do” when the budget for families’ and childrens’ services is disproportionate to military spending.) while women with children are more likely to hit a glass ceiling. Yet at the same time this happens, women who choose not to have children are vilified as “unnatural”. This is all due to a structure where children are viewed as a resource primarily–they are seen as future workers, soldiers, and consumers.
    This occurred to me as well — even when feminism is not directly addressing parenting issues, even when it’s about wage disparity, domestic violence, reproductive rights, etc., it is still, in a bigger way, to the benefit of mothers and children. ALL civil right movements are–a common platitude is “children are the future” right? Well, being that we move through time in a linear fashion, yes, that’s true. So when feminism, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, etc. work to effect long lasting social change, are they not trying to make a better world for these future children to inhabit?

  • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

    Hi Jenny,

    I guess I could say that today I am lamenting the years when I could have taken women’s studies in college. Based on my personal experiences, addressing the patriarchal systems (social, economic, religious) is absolutely essential. If that falls within radical feminism, then I suppose that’s where I would fit.

    You are right about the “lip-service” and that children are seen as a resource. Yet, the process in developing that resource is not deemed valuable. Our governments need and want the children women produce and raise alone or with partners without regard for the work that goes into that. It makes our children seem disposable and a mother’s efforts without value. With talk of defunding many domestic programs I think, the only people who support such a thing never have to live with the consequences.

    I propose to flip this a bit:

    “So when feminism, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, etc. work to effect long lasting social change, are they not trying to make a better world for these future children to inhabit?”

    Definitely but I think it would be much faster and productive to work for the long lasting social change of moms because many moms raise and love their LGBTQ children, black, white, etc. There are so many ways that “mom networks” are completely by-passed.

    You may have heard recently about the blogger whose son wore a Daphne costume for Halloween. She entitled her post “My Son Is Gay”. In that article she was his biggest advocate. Today she posted that her pastor wanted her to do penance for violating the 8 commandment, something about bearing false witness and slandering the women who were commenting about her son’s attire.

    Her situation is a perfect example of my thinking. His mother was excepting, loving, encouraging — what we all want. But the pastor, who garners more respect socially, believed it his place to judge her for it and put her maternal instincts aside.

    Is every pastor that way? Certainly not. But it’s a situation of marginalizing the positive intentions of moms that goes on everywhere. It is quite prevalent.

    Classifying persons within their groups and working toward a common goal is definitely one way to do things and it has made progress. But I think building on the huge and under-served maternal network — who are the best advocates for their children (in all of there unique forms) — could expand the reaches of several movements at once. They only have to believe in this process, too.

    Moms are truly an untapped resource for change on a macro-level.

    Your thoughts?