Choice feminism & compulsory gender roles

Lady Brett has a new post over at her fabulous blog Don’t Let’s Talk about feminism and housewifery, and I left a rather long-ish comment, and still find myself with strong feelings on the subject.

So hey, why else do I have a blog but to write impromptu non-fiction personal essays about gender and feminist theory?

1. The Value of Domestic Skills

I believe there’s nothing inherently unfeminist about keeping a home, doing domestic things, taking care of people you love, cooking, cleaning, decorating. Those are important, learned skills and talents, often very complicated arts, time consuming, and things which make a big difference in the quality of life.

There’s been quite a bit of reclamation around “women’s work” throughout the second wave and third wave feminist movements, which has revisioned and revalued the work that goes into domesticity as complex, learned skills, difficult, and often incredible works of art.

(See, for example, the art of Judy Chicago, in particular – The Dinner Party in particular, but there’s lots more in that vein. Also see the book Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgartner & Amy Richards. Anyone else have examples? Leave ‘em in the comments.)

Domesticity & housewifery can go against feminist principles when it is compulsory: not optional, expected, unrewarded, and unrecognized as hard work or valuable. The problems come in being forced into this role, when you’re only doing that if what you’re doing feels like what you’re “supposed” to do and not what you really want to do. Figuring out what actually suits you best, your particular talents and personality and inclinations – that is subversive, and empowering.

2. Choice Feminism

Recently, there’s been a rise of this idea of choice feminism, which claims that being a housewife or househusband, staying home to raise the kids and keep the house, is an option available to people if they so choose, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with this choice.

Makes sense, right? Some people – men or women or butches or femmes or genderqueers or whomever – think it would be great to have the luxury of having a partnership (or triad, or whatever) where enough income was being generated by another person (or another source) that someone could stay home and prepare good food and take care of their living space, take care of the kids or plants or animals. To others, this sounds like nothing they’d want to do themselves, they’d hate to be cooped up all day and would much rather go out into the world and socialize, feel like a ‘productive member of society.’

So in theory, it would be great if someone was able to say, hey, I’d really like to be at home, and their partner would say, that’s great, because I’d like to go to work and make enough money to support our family. And then the negotiation of details would happen, and wow, everyone has a great time with their lives, yay.

There are so many factors that go into building this as an option to begin with. For one, it takes a certain amount of education (and therefore access to education), economic capability, and stature in order to be in a relationship that can rely on a single income (and/or a lot of thriftiness!). The folks who have the ability to stay home and take care of their domestic life have to have a certain amount of economic privilege, by definition – they are able to survive without having a traditional, typical 40 hour a week job.

Point being, this isn’t an option everyone has, so it can’t be a “choice” for everyone. Some people cannot ever choose this choice, because of the ways we have been set up inside of economic systems. (If I had more time to research, I would include : all sorts of things on credit card theory, loan sharks, economic poverty, the working poor. Got specific resources for this? Links, books, documentaries? Leave ‘em in the comments.)

I bet someone staying home and claiming the housewife/househusband/etc role works really well in some relationships, and that those choices are totally legit and based in love and care and self-knowledge for the relationship, family, themselves, and their partners.

Problem is, there are still real social consequences to choosing the socially unacceptable, rarer, less compulsory choice. And it isn’t until both options are empowered with equal weight that we’ll be able to actually make these choices fully, and as long as society still deems one choice over the other, presenting it as an “option” sometimes feels to me as more one more way to force people into it compulsorily.

I think it is possible for these particular choices to have equal weight. Both should be equally valued, in my opinion, and it is possible for them to be in the current culture.

Whether or not they do actually have equal weight, however, would largely depend on a person’s perspective, family, culture, friends, and social status. Some people would experience rejection, marginalization, othering, belittling, or outcasting, if they decided to stay at home and “only” take care of their family’s domestic life. Others would experience peer pressure and gender policing for not doing so, for attempting to say that housewifery is valuable, especially when saying this to someone for whom housewifery was compulsory, and whom resents the lack of choice that she herself had.

Two examples:

A) Mona Lisa Smile
The film Mona Lisa Smile, set in the 1950’s at a women’s college, has a major theme of choice feminism throughout, as Joan, a student, struggles between pursuing law at Yale or getting married and starting a family. Her art teacher, Katherine, tries to encourage her to examine both options equally, even saying she doesn’t have to choose, she can have both.

Quote from the scene where Joan tells her art teacher that she’s going to choose to be a housewife:

Joan Brandwyn: It was my choice… not to go. He would have supported it [if I’d chosen to go].
Katherine Watson: But you don’t have to choose.
Joan Brandwyn: No, I have to. I want a home; I want a family, that’s not something I’ll sacrifice.
Katherine Watson: No-one’s asking you to sacrifice that, Joan, I just want you to understand you can do both.
Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I’ll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I’m afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing and it doesn’t make me any less smart.
[Katherine looks down] Joan Brandwyn: This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn’t say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.
Katherine Watson: [hugs Joan] Congratulations. Be happy.

(source: Wikiquote)

It seems Joan is attempting to make the major point of choice feminism, that Katherine does not think housewifery is a legitimate choice for women. But I’m skeptical of this, because we don’t ever see Joan go through an awakening out of the compulsory gender role, realizing and fully understanding the limitations of her socially prescribed feminine/wife/mother role. Without really knowing that, is it possible for her to consider rejecting it as a legitimate option?

B) Sex and the City, season 4 episode 7, Time and Punishment

In the episode Time and Punishment from the fourth season of Sex and the City, Charlotte is newly married, and informs the girls that she’s thinking about quitting her job so she can begin her domestic duties. They react with significant glances at each other, though nobody says anything overly disagreeing with Charlotte’s news. The next day, Charlotte calls Miranda.

Miranda: Hello?
Charlotte: You were so judgmental at the coffee shop yesterday.
Miranda: Excuse me?
Charlotte: You think I’m one of those women.
Miranda: What? One of what women?
Charlotte: One of those women we hate who just works until she gets married. … The women’s movement is supposed to be about choice. And if I choose to quit my job, that is my choice.
Miranda: “The women’s movement”? Jesus Christ, I haven’t even had coffee yet.
Charlotte: It’s my life and my choice.
Miranda: Okay, Charlotte? This isn’t about me, this is your stuff.
Charlotte: Admit it! You were being very judgmental.
Miranda: I’m dripping all over my bathroom and you’re calling me judgmental. lf you have a problem with quitting your job…maybe you should take it up with your husband.
Charlotte: See, there it is, “your husband.” There’s nothing wrong with having a husband!
Miranda: Charlotte, I’m hanging up.
Charlotte: Don’t you dare hang up! And stop saying Charlotte like that. I am quitting my job to make my life better… and do something worthwhile like have a baby and cure AIDS.
Miranda: Oh! You’re gonna cure AlDS? Good for you. Just don’t be too disappointed if all you wind up with is a pretty ceramic mug with Trey’s name on it.
Charlotte: Take that back!
Miranda: I’m hanging up.
Charlotte: Don’t hang up! I’m interviewing girls to replace me… and I really need you to get behind my choice.
Miranda: You get behind your choice.
Charlotte: I am behind my choice. I choose my choice.
Miranda: I don’t have time for this. I have to go to work. Some of us still have to go to work.
Charlotte: I choose my choice!

(quoted from script of Time & Punishment.)

Problem for me here is that Charlotte is “the traditional one.” The most conservative, the one who blushes at the slightest of sex talk, the one who, throughout the series, is in serious husband-hunting mode. Has she really examined all her choices? Is she buying into the gender role that she’s presenting because she “chooses” it, or because it is compulsory for her?

But even though I am skeptical and questioning these women’s ability to make their own choices, I do come from the perspective that everyone has their own agency. I try – very hard – to let go of my own judgment about what would or wouldn’t be a good choice, and to really believe that another person is the only one who will really know what is in her own best interest.

But while I believe in agency, I also believe in things like laws of self-protection – seat belt laws, helmet laws, fast food regulation laws – because society has proved that people are susceptible, that we do not always make the choice that is in our best interest because of social, political, advertising, or any other number of pressures, and that educators, policy makers, and activists have the responsibility to protect and look out for others. That we are all interdependent, if you will – and that when everyone does better, everyone does better.

So how do we figure out how to have more agency in these complex situations of choice? How do we assure that all options do have equal weight for ourselves, in our own personal lives, even if they do not have equal weight in the eyes of society? How do we take a decision that used to be compulsory – like being a stay at home mom (SAHM, or Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker, if you’re a dooce reader) or, to connect it further to the Sugarbutch Chronicles subjects, adopting an exaggerated presentation of gender like butch or femme – and legitimately choose it?

3. Knowledge & Education

How can we make these choices have more equal weight?

Educate yourself. Study feminism. Study the history of compulsory gender roles, compulsory gender presentation, compulsory heterosexuality.

We can’t make any of these choices without understanding of where they came from, what they mean, what cultural, historical, and political contexts the choices sit within.

In a society that still has so much compulsory roles for men and women, it’s never just as simple as “I choose to be a housewife” or “I choose to work a full-time job outside the home.” There are so many factors – economic status, cultural and familial expectations, personal interests and pursuits, background, education, community.

I guess this is the part where we’re on our own, where we have to figure out the solution to our own gender problems, where we have to take responsibility for our own enlightenment.

One of my favorite quotes about gender is “femme is knowing what you’re doing.” My take on that is not that “all femmes know what they’re doing all the time,” but more like the implications that femme – or femininity, or gender expression in general – becomes an active choice, something that has a context and a history and a cultural understanding for the choices we’re making.

And it is possible to learn those things. Read into the history of gender studies, of compulsory gender roles and gender “deviance,” gender activism, butch/femme culture and society, the women’s and gay liberation movements. Get a sense of yourself & your gender in a larger sociological, historical, political, cultural, geographical context.

I see feminism as quite similar to how I am beginning to understand Buddhism: as philosophies, as world views. That it is a container, a baseline of explanation and understanding for how you see the world, interactions, social hierarchies, marginalized communities, value.

And as such, I really believe that everyone has a place within feminism. That everyone is affected by compulsory gender, by gender policing, by gender roles which oppress and restrict and encourage us to be less than full, open people, with access to the entire range of human experience. And therefore, everyone has the possibility to be liberated by studying the ways that these unspoken rules operate on the very personal, private aspects of our lives.

Here’s some suggestions of tools that have helped me along this search for knowledge and understanding. Add your own in the comments if you have further resources that significantly helped your perspective.

Feminism is For Everybody, bell hooks – amazing basic course in what feminism is, what it means, and where else to start looking. I’ve bought this for various people over the years. Completely accessible and wonderfully written.

The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan – the classic feminist text about compulsory domesticity. Though it’s dated, if this isn’t something that you’ve examined overtly, it might be time to read it.

Creating a Life Worth Living, Carol Lloyd – an artist workbook that guides you through figuring out what kind of life you want to live, what your values are, how you want to be spending your time, and helps you set goals to do that. Might be helpful & empowering in this particular issue of choosing to be a housewife, in that it might help you see where you particular strengths are, and what ways of spending your day will make you the happiest.

Manifesta, Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards – I’ve already mentioned this, but if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. Very accessible and fun to read.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago – is an art exhibit currently housed at the Brooklyn Museum in the feminist art wing. Problematic and highly criticized for it’s white and western-centric focus, but still an amazing piece of art which elevates traditional female domestic duties such as table settings, needlepoint, and ceramics and presents them in the context of a long history of powerful, strong, capable women.

It’s all a long process, right? Of getting to know oneself, of examining the world around us and seeing where we fit in, where we don’t, what we like, what we don’t. Of becoming self-aware. And, ultimately, of finding the bliss that makes our own lives uniquely worthwhile.

4. Let The Soft Animal of Your Body Love What It Loves

Eventually, this is the integrated goal of this process, I think: to “let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves.”

It comes from one of my favorite poems of all time, and is a line I often quote. With care and consciousness, I believe this concept of letting myself love what I love to be at the core of my feminist beliefs. And I believe it’s possible to operate from this place, and within a feminist context, with feminist philosophies and outlooks on life.

It isn’t until I unpack all the societal gunk that I can really see, really understand, what it is that the soft animal of my body loves, and what it is that I should do with my wild and precious life.

Wild Geese
Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

19 thoughts on “Choice feminism & compulsory gender roles”

  1. muse says:

    that poem totally makes me cry, every time. "you do not have to be good…"

    nice post, Sin. it feels good to choose your choice.

  2. 'productive member of society' is one of those phrases that drives me crazy (partly because i've internalized the concept so well). the implication behind that phrase is that it is more important to our society that i make sure a website is running properly than, say, pay attention to my children and keep my self and family healthy.

    one thing you didn't mention that is always upfront in my thoughts on the issue is vulnerability. if you are the bread-winner of your household, you can function without your other half (logistically, albeit perhaps not as well). you can still feed yourself, even if you resort to shitty fast food. as the (non-gender-specific) housewife, you are in a much more vulnerable situation. no matter your education and qualifications, every year you are not in the workforce drastically reduces your chances of 'gainful employment.' and it doesn't matter how good a cook you are, you still need some money in order to have food to cook at all. it is, to me, a lot of faith/pressure to put on a relationship. but it is also one excellent division of labor, if it does work.

    great post! that's all the response i have time for 'till i have some time off from being a productive member of society, but it was some serious food for thought ;)

    p.s. sounds like time for a library trip, the only one of your recommendations i've read is the feminine mystique, which was ruined for me by being about 400 pages too long.

    [ Totally agree – "productive member of society" is often used to police one's worth, implying of course that if you aren't a "productive member of society" then you are a worthless/useless person. But on the other hand, people have different relationships to this personality trait – like some people just wouldn't feel like their day is productive if they weren't helping others, or feeling like their work was making a difference, affecting their communities, etc. Others don't necessarily feel the same obligation toward external service, or perhaps just have different interpretations about what building or affecting community looks like.

    Great point about vulnerability. No matter how much we'd like to get outside of a capitalist system, it's nearly impossible to do so, I think, and someone who is not generating income would have to rely on someone who was (assuming they're not independently wealthy/inhereted wealth/generating money through blogging from home/etc. And relying on someone else always means there's a vulnerability and reliance which is finite – it can never really be guaranteed.

    I'd love to hear any more thoughts you've got, as they come to you; this is an interesting topic, certainly. – ss]

  3. d says:

    Gorgeous post, Sin, absolutely brilliant.

  4. maze says:

    Good post also,I'm writing from another country and another culture, where femme will always imply this : (one of my favorite quotes, roughly translated, sorry) : a man's presence suggests what he's gonna be be able to do for you/ to you, a woman's presence suggests what can actually be done to her, or not." I realise I'm kind of far from where/ when you live, I'm still in the 50's somehow… but the notions this quote imply, in my working and daily life, are still extremely present and it's something I thought I would be able to struggle against by being visibly extremely female, while keeping a "man"'s way of life and allowing me the freedom and ruthlessness that is expected of a man, not of a woman. Making myself a kind of trap, actually. Well, it wasn't such a success, it worked tremendoulsy, but it hurt me and others, and I've grown out of it. Sorry I'm not very coherent, just a reaction to your post, that awoke some old feelings in me…

  5. sif says:

    i'm glad you included the economic factors of this decision, that's where it gets more difficult for me. it's not just about IF a couple has the opportunity for one person to stay at home, it's about WHO can take that opportunity. if my career will always bring in a significantly higher income than my partner's then the choice seems to be taken away.

    i would rather have someone stay at home to care for the house and family than for both partners to work outside the home, even if that means i automatically have responsibility as the sole breadwinner. Part of this means i value being able to maintain a certain economic status more than being able to stay home, but most of it is common sense and practicality.

    another interesting topic is the way that D/s works it's way into the decision. as a submissive femme is it 'ok' that i act as the sole breadwinner? of course! i can see it as a way of serving my partner. and there is plenty of power in the 'stay at home' role, running a household seems an almost perfect job for a dominant partner.

    it can work either way i guess. all of this goes back to what you wrote about: informed honest choice.

    thanks for writing about a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. communities like the one(s) i've come across through your site help empower me to make own choices. it's not that i need others to feel the same way, but it makes it so much easier to know i'm not the only one with these desires.

  6. FeelingThinking says:

    I was in the corporate world for twenty+ years. Never dreamed I'd not "always" work. Then more than a decade ago I hit a wall of fatigue that never lifted. My immune system is/was constantly under attack.

    There/here I am. Not accepting what has happened. Too fatigued to fight it. Most often even my eyes were too tired for me to read.

    I spent the twenty years of my marriage working full time and being/feeling responsible for everything in the house. He watched tv, told me to relax and gained 100 lbs.

    After years of arguing with myself, I finally accepted that I have the right to be happy. Five years after the divorce a friend and I fell in love. I learned that I am lesbian. I never want to "regress"!

  7. Emma says:


    I hate password protected posts. :-(

  8. AveshaDee says:

    Holy Moly, Sinclair… it is good to see this kind of thought process outside of a graduate school classroom.

    Here's some homework~

    In regard to poverty/vulnerability/embedded structures of inequality/entitlement/ privilege/etc., read "Regulating the Poor" by Piven & Cloward, Paulo Friere's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", and anything you can find on social determinants of health. Also,

    Rothenberg's "Race, Class, and Gender in the United States" is an interesting look into some of the Capitalist structures that foster inequality across the income lines.

    I'm sure you've heard of her work before, but Jean Baker Miller's "Toward a New Psychology of Women" is amazing in regard to gender roles, internalized oppression, and femininity. Other writers of the Stone Center hit the mark on this topic as well.

    Have you ever read any of Audre Lorde's poetry??? Black, Feminist, and Lesbian, her perspective is powerful!

  9. Dear Sin,

    Will you marry me? Will you run for president at least? Why don’t you have that in your swag options? Sinclair Sexsmith 08′. I will SO be your campaign manager!

  10. One of the things I'd really like to challenge in our society is the idea that the partner who makes more money is the one with the more important job. Are we so focused on money that we can't make our household decisions based on some other criterion? Why not drive a smaller car, eat out less often, acquire fewer things, to live in peace with ourselves? Why take it on faith that we can't escape the (patriarchal) capitalist system?

    It seems to me that our willingness to buy into the idea that 'having ever more money and stuff is essential to happiness' is part of what's driving this messed-up system of women forced into the home. Or, for that matter, people forced into work if what they want to do is stay home. The position of 'housewife' is really the ultimate economic status symbol now, as most can't afford to be or have one.

    A really interesting book about women's work is "A Midwife's Tale" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

  11. AveshaDee says:

    All of this "more important than" vs. "less important than" is a direct result of our Capitalist "use value vs. exchange value labor scale". When you look at history women have been pigeon-holed into use-value tasks which have forever been seen as lesser than because you can't put a monetary value on them; when -in reality- such labor is more emotionally, physically, and spiritually demanding and (in most cases) infinitely less rewarding.

    Obviously, I'm still thinking about this post…

    Two other books that might prove interesting in regard to oppressed women/feminism/gender definition (with a definite hetero bent but still valuable): "No Nice Girl Swears" by Alice-Leone Moats and "Hope in a Jar" by Kathy Peiss.

  12. It's thought provoking posts like this that keep me here. Mostly.

    I am married, and am the breadwinner (although I am not sure my income would call it 'winning'). My husband stays home, and sometimes takes care of the kids. His health problems and overall douchbaggishness makes this a necessity although they are also in daycare during the school year.

    I have always worked and have had career goals out of a necessity to work, not any hard fast desire. I don't think, though, that I ever had any strong desire to stay home and raise kids/ care of the house. Even if I had the husband and financial ability to do so, I don't think I would have wanted to.

    I feel like I have been forced in to this "I'm every woman" role and while there is a certain amount of "good for you, girl" that goes along with it- I also resent it.

    I don't know what that means… it just is.

  13. The poem speaks to me the loudest.

  14. Jess says:

    I really agree with everything you've said here. But I'd just like to add something about the economic side-effects of these choices – it's not just about the ability at a given moment to make the choice to stay at home, but about the impact that might have further down the road.

    Because society values labour inside the home less than labour outside the home, it's an uncomfortable fact that if the relationship in question fails, the person who has stayed in the home may find hirself economically disadvantaged. So I suppose I worry that it's a situation of economic dependency on another person, which can cause major problems. I suppose I feel like when you're economically dependent on another person, it may well restrict other choices further down the line. Perhaps this is a bit different in the US, where you have allimony, etc. I suppose all choices have consequences that restrict our ability to make choices later though. Hmm.

  15. SublimeFemme says:

    I'm a new reader of your work and am impressed by the way you bring together intellectual engagement and erotic exploration. Very sexy! I **love** the fact that you're out about enjoying things like cooking and being domestic. From my own perspective as a femme, I think one of the challenges of being a femme/feminine-identified person is that it can be difficult to figure out when being domestic is something you desire or something that you feel compelled to do because, as a result of female socialization, our identities as women are often so tied up with caretaking. I've always experienced butch and femme genders as subversive of gender norms, but for me there has to be some irony or even campiness in the way these practices are deployed–or, a self-consciousness about the way we play with and rework sexual divisions of labor.

    While the "choice" framework is compelling and you use it effectively, I agree that choices are always made within systems (patriarchy, heteronormativity, racism, economic injustice, etc) that define the forms they take. This is what I like about a lot of the discussion here; much as we would like to, we can't wish these systems away. With this in mind, I really appreciate the dialogue about the ways in which capitalism structures our "choices."

    For a queer historical take on the relationships between capitalism, gay/lesbian identities & cultures, and the family, I highly recommend John D'Emilio's very short & wonderfully readable essay "Capitalism and Gay Identity."

    About Aveshadee's point, a few thoughts. The distinction between use and exchange isn't quite right here. Every commodity is defined by the contradiction between use and exchange according to Marx. What I would say is that "women's work" has historically been defined as outside production and value. It's not that we *can't* put a "monetary value" on domestic labor, caretaking, etc; rather, capitalism requires these forms of labor to be conceptualized as ideological and social (through the family). This keeps the labor of "housewives" (sorry, I hate that word) unpaid and invisible. As materialist feminists have shown, capitalist production refuses to recognize its dependence on domestic labor for the reproduction of the labor force, etc.

    Thanks for weighing in on these issues.

  16. !spark! says:

    Oh, excellent! Thanks! That was some serious food for thought. And I was hungry.

    You really gave my mind something to gnaw on while I defrosted the freezer this morning.

    And well, since I'm currently waiting for the floor wax to dry, I think I'll respond and share some of my musings.

    Seriously, if you had posed the question this a.m., I'd probably, initially, have made the move towards coming down on the "it IS a choice" and "I made my decision/I did it, so can you…. or not, …if you so choose… whatever you think is right for you…"

    Ah but yes, you opened my eyes, it is not truly a choice for everyone in this society, and even much less so in the great wide world as a whole… not yet.

    If h and I had not had college degrees and good jobs AND if I had not worked for 7 years before having a child (and if I had not contributed to the down-payment on this house…), then there might not have been a "choice" for me to do the stay-at-home mom thing.

    This life does suit me though, personality-wise.

    However, it has also most definitely been a financial hardship, especially when we stand in comparision with other folks/parents in our community, who are driving environmentally responsible hybrids and "struggling" over decisions about their IRAs, while I'm charging dtr's college tuition to a high interest credit card….

    Question is – where does one draw the line? Seems very relative to me… How many Americans are truly malnousished for a lack of money to buy food? Can these families really not afford to care for their children? OR are they simply susceptible to the over-whelmingly consumer-driven economy/culture, and might they be making "poor choices" about how to spend their money?

    But let me get back to why I chose this life, – my mother was crazy, and I mean, psycho-crazy.

    I decided long ago that anyone under my care, anyone who was dependent upon me, would experience true love and dedication.

    Unfortunately in recent years I've come to realize that some of my caregiving is compulsively given and maybe not such a good a thing… as it is possibly psychologically grounded in insecurity…. Ack! Well, so much for feeling good about the choice/decision to be a "home-maker"/"house-wife"…..

    Honestly, some days, I don't know which end is up. But in the end, I wouldn't change a thing because personal human relationships are to be valued above all else. Love and acceptance is the

    only way, and that means love of ones self and of others. Unfortunately it seems that the times in which we live, place more value on material goods and production, than on rocking babies to sleep, and providing a comfy home, and juggling a modern family's busy schedule…..

    And so where does that leave us? gender-wise? individualy? moment to moment, every single day as we muddle through, trying to survive? Are we loving and supporting each other, or not?

    My dtr starts college next week. I look forward to seeing where this next generation of women will take this life-challenge.

    AND I look forward to where the next phase of my own life leads.

    Oh and thanks for providing me with some new reading material suggestions.



    P.S. OMG that poem made me cry… Grrr, you owe me a box of kleenex!

  17. Mooper says:


    How could staying at home be "compulsory"? If you don't want to stay at home, don't get married to someone who insists you do, or if you make the mistake of doing so, get out.


    It doesn't necessarily take economic privilege to live on one income. The woman at home often adds economic value to the partnership in excess of what she would earn elsewhere. While the economic value of cleaning and cooking and keeping order is substantial itself, it also enables a husband to work 50 or 60 hour weeks and earn much more than he would if he had to do those things himself. Therefore, the combined standard of living achieved can be much higher with a one-income family.

    Another thought:

    The economic value of a woman raising great kinds (not alone, but for her part) by staying home is hard to measure, but enormous.

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