Oh, Dr. Laura. Even though you haven’t updated your YouTube site recently, a browse through your archives shows me that I will never run out of material to go up against.
This week: How could I resist something called “Home Should Represent True Fulfillment for Women“? Since this is a blog post, I’m going to look at excerpts rather than the whole thing at once.
“The feminist movement has attempted to deconstruct the family under the guise that gender isn’t significant for women, child-rearing, and the quality of their marriages. As a result, women feel guilty for yearning to raise their own children.”
O RLY? Because from what I know, from what most feminists would say, from what Merriam-Webster says, there is nothing about feminism that says that women should not care about their families. Feminism isn’t anti-family. That is anti-familialism. Which is a word that I made up, but Dr. Laura has still managed to confuse the two.
It’s not that gender isn’t significant. Everything I do is shaped by the fact that I am a woman, and have been for my whole life. The way people treat me, the way my brain works, my center of gravity. But that doesn’t mean that my husband is banned from child-rearing. My kid would be so upset if I had to tell her that she and her dad can’t play head-shoulders-knees-toes-knees-toes anymore. And if I were solely responsible for the quality of my marriage? Crap, that would be the end of that. Feminism doesn’t mean anti-familialism. It means that everybody in the family should be equally invested.
“Women’s and parenting magazines declare that the most important thing a woman can do is make herself happy (through work), or maintain power (her own bank account), and of course, make sure that one of the representatives of the evil empire (a man/husband) does not oppress her.”
And women’s and parenting magazines are right. A happy woman is a better person in all aspects of life. A wife is a better wife if she is happy. A mother is a better mother if she is happy. A businesswoman is a better businesswoman if she is happy, and an athlete is a better athlete if she is happy. Artists are probably better off unhappy, but that is the cross they bear.
And a woman who has power over her own bank account (like, ahem, Dr. Laura) has the power to stay in a situation that makes her happy. She gets to choose to be the person she wants to be. A mother who is only a mother because she has no other choice is not in a great position to be savoring every moment. Feminism gives women choice. And those that want to be mothers are going to be better mothers for being able to choose, and those that do not are going to be better overall for not being boxed into it.
“Guess what? Women these days are less happy (missing the joys of developing and loving children) and more frenzied (trying to be and do everything).”
Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) discusses the “women are less happy” phenomenon; his take is that women have historically reported being happier than they actually are because of societal pressure. He’s much smarter than I am, and I believe what he says most of the time. This makes sense to me, too. It has nothing to do with Dr. Laura’s anecdotal evidence of “missing joy” from raising kids. Not to mention that having kids has been shown in studies to decrease happiness. If you’re a parent just because you want joy, you’re in for a big surprise.
“I tell women that at home they truly have time to grow spiritually, intellectually, and physically. They also lose much of their feminist-trained hostility toward their husbands and gain back the blessing of their sexuality.”
Personally, I have feminist-trained hostility towards misogynistic assholes. Luckily, my husband is not one of those people, so I can train my hostility on other things, like changing the world for the better. And making it so that my daughter gets to choose whom and what she wants to be, oh, and that the “blessing of sexuality” isn’t something that is only available to heterosexual married women of child-bearing age.
“Once I’m done with these women, they develop a deeper appreciation for how they are singularly responsible for the attitude and atmosphere of their home.”
One paragraph ago, Dr. Laura was lamenting the fact that women feel the need to be and do everything. Now it’s that women will be happy if they just know that only they can be responsible for everybody’s happiness in their lives. Fuck that noise, Dr. Laura. I am responsible for my own happiness, and for treating others with love and respect. The fact that I am a woman is not going to force me to take on all of the responsibility for the attitude and atmosphere of the home. We are a family. We shoulder this stuff together.
I seriously do not understand how anybody could think that is a bad thing.
And the way my kid screams with laughter when my husband is taking on child-rearing responsibilities is something I wouldn’t give up for the world. Not even empty promises of super-feminized-fulfillment.