Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Double-Edged Sword

Merriam-Webster defines FEMINISM as

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
I think some of us see it specifically as fighting for equal is equal as opposed to that evil "separate but equal" from the civil rights movement.  Which it has been.  And understandably so. 

But recently (and please don't flame me, though discussions are welcome), I have been feeling a little bit...miffed...that I so staunchly am a feminist.  But...look at definition part 2...go on, look. "...on behalf of women's rights and interests."

Why am I focused on this?  Because I am struggling to keep my job in a country so focused on business and economics that the focus on families and the future (our children) is sorely neglected.  Maternity leave is a joke.  If you are eligible for FMLA, you may be able to get 3 months, half of which is unpaid unless you can accrue enough vacation time.  Complications in pregnancy make this impossible. Leaving you to return to work long before you or baby is really ready.

My child does not sleep through the night.  Not even remotely.  Add to that Daycare Plague, and you have a recipe for attendance disaster.  I got the "other people have issues, too" speech today.  But if I am so tired that driving is dangerous I am not driving!  It is not as though I am hungover and slacking off.  But my responsibilities to my health and family have to come first, right?  And they "understand". It comes down to "You have to do what you have to do."

Eat me.

I am not asking for special dispensation. Don't pay me for missed time.  But I feel like I am forced to make decisions that shouldn't have to be made.

Which brings me back to feminism.  We can do the work as well as men.  BUT, we many times face challenges men don't.  This also applies to single dads.  Parents.  Those with chronic illnesses.  Sometimes FMLA doesn't cover you.  What then?   Good old Darwin?

So if they fire me I will be milking unemployment.  Unabashedly.  And enrolling P in state-assisted insurance.  Because that is focused on children!  Good for them.

We fought to be equal...but in doing so, we may have forgotten some of the important things in life.  And that makes me angry.  Our culture makes me angry.  I am ANGRY.  But right now, I have to take it.  Because it's a on the table is caring for my family, too.


  1. Bravo. I could go on for hours in response to this post...but suffice it to say I couldn't possibly agree more. :)
    I'm sorry that you and the hubby are struggling so hard though, and that you're even in the position to have your job threatened because you put your family first.

  2. I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I too am a feminist though I admit I consider much (not all) of what you describing simply, er, humanist -- that all of us would benefit from having more flexibility in our work (work shouldn't be so "lumpy;" a setup that accommodated more choices, e.g., you choose how many hours you work (and get pay, and benefits, proportional to that amount as compared to similarly skilled colleagues), not just "work 20 hours (and get no benefits) or 40 hours (and get 'em)" would, I think, benefit all of us -- businesses included).

    But, too, I was a good girl, raised on Our Bodies Ourselves and understanding that pregnancy is a normal, healthy condition, not a medical problem. Um, except, it turns out, when it, you know, is, and I do very much agree that there is a double-edged sword to that -- that fighting the "protections" (and lack of opportunities) associated with the "delicate condition" of pregnancy (and the risk, however small, of it befalling us) has had a lot of good results but isn't, actually, entirely based in reality. I did have a mundanely easy, healthy pregnancy, thank heavens, and even then found month 9 gruelingly awkward and exhausting -- and the early months of motherhood, well, yikes.

  3. I've had to deal with not having any time off left due to Maternity leave. It sucks but I make do. I know how hard it is functioning on such little sleep and the plague. Sadly, you get used to it!

  4. As a Canadian, I realize how lucky I am when it comes to maternity leave... paid maternity leave at that. So when I look at our southern neighbor and see the injustices that are done to its citizens, I cringe. I do. God bless you all; I love America. I have a lot of American family. My own sister lives in the States, and she too has been dealing with the crappy maternity leave that is offered to her, versus the luxury of leave that she would have if she lived at home.

    I also see that so much money in America is being put into defense and more... oh... how do I say it, volatile things rather than putting money into taking care of America's own citizens. How much money is put into the arms race or missions overseas (that sometimes are unwanted by citizens of the targeted country?) when America's own citizens, here at home, haven't got enough? The veterans that have little support? The new moms who deserve a little more? It frustrates me from a social point of view. And that's tough. Because America is a great nation and I know it can do better to serve its citizens in the way they deserve.

    Just chiming in with my two cents. I hope that's okay. If not... your turn to whip me or beat me!

  5. That really is infuriating. I completely agree.

  6. Oh I hear you. I think the feminist movement (separate from individual feminists btw) has created an unrealistic expectation for women to try to function in the workplace like men. But we're not! We just function differently on an organizational level then men do. . .and most business structures are established upon male principles. It's like trying to compete in a system that is inherently not created for you.....okay I'm going off. The point is, I think that sucks. I know that however it works out you will be okay.

  7. but this kind of problem is exactly what feminism is about! seriously -- it's the corporate interests (etc) who want us to believe that "equal work" with no consideration for unequal situations was the message of feminism, but that's not "social equality," in your definition. i'm too tired to rant clearly right now, but feminism is very much about reasonable maternity leave and about jobs not being able to fuck you over for being a mother. it's about women being able to work in "men's" jobs, which means structuring the workplace in such a way that motherhood isn't economically punished. retrogressive pundits want us to think that feminism = women working outside the home at any cost, but that's the fault of the decline in real value of workers' wages since, what, the '40s? women went to work out of economic necessity; feminism is about making that work just.


Whip me, beat me, take away my charge card. Or just leave a comment. Whichever works best for you :)