Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Other Women Should Do

This is from one of my favorite blogs, The Belle Jar. She wrote what I have also been thinking about for a while. It’s insane that in 2015, women are still shamed for basically every decision they make, yet men live without judgement. Women tear each other down and debate what is “right.” I have an idea: How about we let women make their own decisions?

The Belle Jar

Earlier today, Lydia Lovrac, a Montreal-based “columnist, talk-radio host, stay-at-home mom,” wrote a scornful response to piece from 2013 about why Sasha Emmons chooses to work outside of the home. Don’t ask me why Lovrac is responding to a two year old article, because I’m as baffled as you are. I’m sure she has her reasons, such as maybe she some type of wizard who exists outside of the linear bounds of time and space; this would explain why she is writing about the evils of mothers who work outside the home in 2015.

You guys, it’s 2015. It has been two thousand and fifteen years since the alleged birth of Christ and we are still having this goddamn argument about whether or not a mother is morally obligated to stay home with her kids, should finances permit. And as much as it’s tempting to write off Lovrac as a throw-back with outdated…

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14 thoughts on “Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Other Women Should Do

  1. In my opinion women who stay at home to look after their children are very strong, looking after children is the hardest job in the world, women that work and still bring up children are strong and brave. Women have the right to do whatever they want and any man that disagrees with that is very deluded lol so my heart goes out to all the mums in the world, you are all beautiful and all do a hard job. Also just want to say thank you to my mum for always being there even though she did go out and work as well xxx

    • I totally agree that women are strong for the decisions they make. Like you said, women have the right to make their own choices, and everyone should celebrate their choices. Your mom sounds like she raised you right! 🙂

  2. I’m going to respond to this before I even read the whole thing… because you lost me at, “… yet men live without judgement.” Speak for yourself, please.

    Starting with a shitty premise, but I’ll read the rest of it and see if it inspires another response.

      • That’s been your experience, and I won’t invalidate that. I agree that when someone gets judged harshly like that, that’s not cool at all. I haven’t seen things so one-sided, and that’s my experience. Guys get a slough of other judgments made of them as fathers, but mothers have all of their own struggles with these things, absolutely. It’s just not a one-sided situation like so many people take pleasure in boldly claiming.

      • Yes, experiences do play a part in our opinions. But what I and the blogger who I linked are talking about is judgement from the media in general and other women. Magazines, parenting websites, television shows, movies, church members, friends, family, all focus on parenting in terms of mothers. What mothers do, what they don’t do, what decisions they make, whether their decisions are right or wrong. All of it is mothers, and mothers only. I have never turned on the tv and heard debates about whether fathers should be working outside the home or whether it’d be better if they were stay-at-home dads. Why? Because in 2015, it’s STILL an expectation that this is only an issue or mothers.

    • “You guys, it’s 2015. It has been two thousand and fifteen years since the alleged birth of Christ and we are still having this goddamn argument about whether or not a mother is morally obligated to stay home with her kids, should finances permit.”

      – I don’t agree with the premise that just because a lot of time has passed (X)… that it is ridiculous that Y is still the way it has been. Logical fallacy. I believe a home could be perfectly taken care of if a woman was the sole financial provider and the kids had a stay-at-home dad. Just as perfectly as with the parents’ roles swapped. It’s just up to them to decide which of them are optimal at which roles. If Jane has a better job and more earning potential in her field than John does, and they’re both content with that scenario, then blessings to them in their choices. If Jane could earn more, but is perpetually unhappy in her career… and John, out of love, decides to do the earning for the family in order for mutual life happiness… then blessings to these choices as well.

      “There is nothing more disheartening to me than watching women tear each other down, especially within the context of parenting. It’s sad and it’s gross and it’s the purest example of internalized misogyny that there is.”

      – I agree that this is disheartening, but people tear each other down in school and oftentimes never grow out of tearing people down. Females are more prone to gossiping (not judging! If anyone feels that this claim is untrue, generally speaking, let me know.) and being a mother is a major topic of pride, tension, expectation, and responsibility, so I am disheartened, but not surprised to hear about women tearing each other down over it. I don’t take kindly to the blame shifting though when the author says it’s “internalized misogyny”. Take responsibility for your own actions and don’t play into the victim mentality.

      “What’s even more enraging is how gendered these arguments are – even when they say that it’s best for “a parent” to stay home with their kids, what they really mean is mother.”

      – Who is “they”? Is the author still referring to the women shitting on other women, or is she suggesting that it’s mainly men who are suggesting that the parent staying home with their kids would best be a mother? I honestly believe it is better when a parent can be the one raising their kids (in a functional way… i.e. dysfunctional situations aside). But this isn’t always possible, so people make do with the best that they can… and that’s what life is for the most part… people doing the best that they can with what they have. No judgment there either. The author assumes that the people saying “a parent” are being disingenuous. Some people probably are … others are probably being genuinely unbiased.

      “No one ever says that fathers are selfish for working outside the home.”

      -Except right now by The Belle Jar, and every time someone feels like fathers are being selfish for working outside the home. Are fathers selfish for working outside the home? That’s too wide-sweeping. Are some fathers being selfish by deciding to work outside the home? That might be. Are fathers being selfish when they decide to work outside the home even when their wives wish they wouldn’t and their families suffer because of it? Probably yes in almost every circumstance. All of us, men and women, are who we are because of our experiences and learned behaviors. I feel the need to hand-wash all of my dishes AND then stick them in the dishwasher… because my mom always described the process as “First you hand-wash things to actually clean them… then the dishwasher sterilizes.” Whether anyone agrees with this viewpoint or not… that is a learned behavior… even one that I am AWARE of! There are butt loads of our learned behaviors that we have NO CLUE about! One strong message that many boys grow up absorbing is that “If you don’t want to be worthless… you will work. Girls won’t want you if you don’t have income. How will you ever hope to have a family if you don’t make money?” So I feel it’s overly simplistic just to say that fathers are selfish for working outside the home. (Sometimes it is true, but I will venture to say that anybody who spends the better part of their day/life providing for OR actively caring for and raising other people… is the opposite of selfish. Mother or Father.)

      “No one is writing think pieces about how “absent fathers” letting strangers raise their kids just so that they can pursue an enjoyable and fulfilling career.”

      – I would bet this is because of the numbers. There are so many more single mothers than single dads. “Absent fathers” really are a huge problem, though. There are loads of single moms raising kids because of several reasons… one of the main ones is that the dad didn’t stick around, or that the dad wasn’t welcome to stick around, or the child came from a one night stand / fling and the dad doesn’t know the kid exists, or the dad’s in jail/prison… or etc. In most cases, having a two parent home would vastly improve the functionality of the home and would certainly increase the flexibility. Also, I disagree with the assumption that fathers are generally going off to work because they are fulfilled and enjoy their career, and are therefore using work as “a joyous escape from the awkward drudgery of domesticity.” My personal ideal situation would be if neither I nor my wife HAD to work and we could take care of our kids (in the future, as we currently have none) as much as we wanted to, not having to worry about money. She and I would both still probably enjoy working 10-15 hours a week (her, probably more… as she has a harder time sitting still). This won’t realistically happen, I’m afraid. She currently earns more than I do, but she wants to cut back her hours as my pay increases over the years. It’s just a matter of what makes each of us the happiest, and I’m just happy to be married to her… let alone to have the chance and ability to provide for her and our future children. Some women WANT to be stay-at-home mothers! For those who don’t, I hope they’re able to express that and have the option of doing what they’d prefer!

      “Dear Daughter, […]
      Much love,
      Dad”

      – So much assumption and personal experience coming from the author through this hypothetical letter from a father to his children. The viewpoint coming across here seems to be that the author believes, at least generally speaking, that fathers are ignorant, unwilling to change, are working for primarily selfish reasons, and feel no obligation of responsibility in being an active part of raising their children. (Even if we’re accepting the concept of being ONLY a wage earner as being a passive form of raising their children… which I would agree that even 8-10 hours of work a day still doesn’t cut it when being a Father is a 24/7 kind of responsibility… just as being a Mother has always been viewed as 24/7. Fatherhood shouldn’t be held to any lower standard of service.)

      “In what world is it selfish to love your job? What is it about women specifically that makes them terrible people if they aren’t prioritizing their children 24/7?”

      – I agree with the author here absolutely. I think that we, as humans, benefit from mixing things up a bit. Work is important, but resting is also important. Being creative, having outlets for our creativity… playing a round of golf.. running a mile, taking a swim, having a beer or glass of wine (or 3)… are examples of things that can be extremely important for our sanity and overall enjoyment of life (which… worse case scenario, we only have one go at it…so we’d better make this one count, just in case.) Not scientific enough of a reason? Have a doctor tell you about stress levels and how they’ll negatively affect the human body. (Taking a day off is important… a Sabbath.. or if we don’t get a full day in our crazy lives… we need to find some way to find enjoyment within the crazy… because if we don’t, we won’t enjoy life and we’ll probably die sooner.)

      ” not one that any dudes are being told they have to travel.”

      – Except for every time someone expects a man to do everything he can to provide for his family. (Which is a rightful expectation! But, as the author rightfully says, ‘the idea that you should only live for your children is a pretty dangerous road to go down’ and taking care of ourselves as parents is part of taking care of our children.) A cranky, frustrated, unfulfilled, wearied, exhausted parent with hardly anything left to give their children… aren’t doing great things for their children’s emotional well being. (No judgment, however, as life has a way of being nasty and bringing out the worst in us a lot of the time. And we do the best we can with what we have and what we know.) There’s more to life than food and shelter, even if those are two of the very most important things.

      “And your happiness was more important to me than my own. And making you happy also made me happy.”

      – These are the kinds of ‘sacrifices’ we make for the people we love. And this is even the good example, where both parties are happy. We don’t get to do our personally preferred thing (achieving personal fulfillment and personal goals)… we get to do a somewhat less enjoyable, but still enjoyable thing (actively caring for our children)… and in doing so, we make our children happy. And making them happy makes us happy. So it’s actually worth it to us to reduce exclusive personal happiness for the greater, combined happiness of multiple people.

      “In short: a healthy relationship dynamic between a parent and child does not involve the parent supporting their child financially by working outside the home, but does include expecting your children to appreciate the fact that you made the ultimate life sacrifice for them.”

      – I disagree with this conclusion. Healthy dynamics between parents and their children can be had whether the parents are supporting their children financially by working outside the home or not. Unhealthy dynamics can be had whether the family has the financial freedom to allow both parents to stay at home and care for their children or not. The children appreciating it is an entirely different thing altogether. Each child is a person all their own… if they are raised well and/or grow into maturity, they will appreciate their parents. If not, not. In either case, much of the appreciation for one’s parents generally comes well after the years of most intense parental duty. In hindsight, we reflect on how our parents took care of us despite the difficulties they faced and we feel respect or some other emotion (your mileage may vary).

      ““MOMS: STILL PRETTY MUCH THE WORST?””

      – I agree with the author that this is a ridiculous sentiment if it is true! I personally think all parents who are devoting time and effort to the care of their children deserve massive respect!! Accepting responsibility and thinking of others are two attributes that many many mothers and fathers possess, and they have my respect.

      “We’ll all be better for it.”

      – True. We will all be better for giving each other more grace.

      • I understand a lot of your arguments and your thoughts. I think when I read The Belle Jar’s article, I understood where she was coming from because she is addressing mass media.

        She is writing about television, parenting websites, internet forums, magazines, and the public in general. If you think about it, parenting is still incredibly unequally “the woman’s job.” And I’m saying that factually and statistically. According to this article (http://www.npr.org/2013/05/15/180300236/stay-at-home-dads-breadwinner-moms-and-making-it-all-work) from NPR, only 3.5% of stay-at-home parents are fathers. So no matter what an individual family’s decision or situation, the complete majority of stay-at-home parents are mothers.

        Why is this? Would 96.5% of families all truly have decided on their own that the mother staying at home works best for them? Honestly, I don’t believe that’s the only reason we still see almost every stay-at-home situation being mothers staying home.

        I believe the media is still partially to blame. Think of magazines, for example. Have you ever seen a parenting magazine with fathers as its target audience? No. Why? Because the media is still pushing the idea that mothers are the ones who need to pay attention to parenting.

        Think of the popular phrase: “Having it all.” In society, this phrase means having a college degree, a career, marriage, and kids. Who is this phrase directed towards?

        Women. Here is an example of an article about, what do you know? Women who still can’t “have it all” according to society’s expectations: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/

        Think of these debates we see in the news:

        Is it better for the mother to stay at home or work?

        Is leaving the children with a daycare provider while the mother works damaging for children?

        How can mothers balance life, work, and parenting?

        How can you be a Supermom?

        What are some tips for being a single, working mom?

        I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER heard these debates about fathers. Ever. Why? Because it’s still assumed that mothers are the main caregivers.

        I recently read a quote from actress Jennifer Garner that describes this societal problem perfectly:

        “[E]very single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one…asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’… As for work-life balance, he [husband Ben Affleck] said no one asked him about it that day. As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to kinda change that conversation?”

        While in our society, things are slowly changing, ever so slightly, to be more balanced, the media still pushes the idea that mothers are the main caregivers and that mothers should be their target audience.

        The Belle Jar’s article also addressed how women tear each other down, and she is mainly explaining the arguments and outrageous parenting debates that happen online.

        It’s my belief that men gossip just as much as women. Why else would there be the phrase “locker room talk”? That makes it clear that men gossip, obviously. Men and women gossip about the same things, too. While men gossip about sex in the locker room, women talk about sex, too. There really is no difference between male and female gossip besides the media’s portrayal of each.

        While the media (news, magazines, parenting websites) have these parenting debates, they pin women against each other. Working moms versus stay-at-home moms. Vaccinating moms versus non-vaccinating moms. Breastfeeding moms versus non-breastfeeding moms. Every debate pins the two sides (the groups are, of course, only mothers) against one another. This, in turn, causes women to tear each other down when they don’t agree with the opinions of other women.

        I believe that the reason we see so much judgement against mothers and almost exclusively against mothers (don’t get me started on childfree women–that’s a whole nother issue that women are torn down for) is because of the media. The media continues to perpetuate the idea that mothers are the main caregivers, and so society tends to view that as the ideal.

        What The Bell Jar (and I) wants to change is the way mothers (and women in general) are viewed. In the media, everything about mothering (AKA, parenting, considering the fact that these debates just don’t exist for fathers) is a debate. None of these issues should be debates at all. They should be just choices parents have. No decision should be considered right or wrong (unless they are illegal or dangerous, obviously). The media (and women) should stop pinning women against each other.

      • Tradition is a huge thing. It takes a long while to change things like “gender roles” because they are things that have been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years. Even if there is something questionable that we do… we often times have some sentimentality towards it simply because “well my parents did it, so I figured I’d do it, too”.

        Circumcision is a random thing that we just keep doing that has no real positive reason (based in truth) just because, “Well… we figured since Papa’s circumcised, Baby’s should look like that too!”

        But anyways, just a couple comments from what you said. First off, I could be wrong about this… so I apologize if I am… but.. I think the main demographic reading parenting magazines, watching television focusing on parenting, parenting websites, internet forums on the topic, or talking about parenting… are women. Women are much more likely to seek information about these kinds of things from other sources and gain as much knowledge about it as they can. Part of the way women are wired. So , yes… the overwhelming majority of the stay-at-home parents are women, as you stated… but also, I believe the overwhelming majority of people seeking this kind of information and reading through these articles…. are also women. So it just doubly makes sense why these mediums are addressing women.

        Look, I don’t know about where the term “locker room talk” came from… but I don’t buy for one minute that guys are talking with each other as much as women are. (or even half as much… this is a huge difference between men and women. Men are more apt to lone wolf it and find their own way, and women are more apt to talk and bounce things off their friends/mothers/coworkers and glean as much information as possible that way.)

        Guys RARELY talk about sex to each other (I am a guy, and I have known many guys… it’s awkward… we don’t do it unless there’s a specific or dire reason.) I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be healthy for us to talk about things more… I think it would have done me well in life if I had been talked to more about several life elements as a youngster… but oh well.

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve learned that one of my wife’s friends knows this or that about our sex life and which has made me feel a bit uncomfortable… but I get over it, and come to a greater understanding of just how much women talk about with each other.

      • You’re right that a lot of the reason these disproportionate parenting and gender roles still happen is because of tradition. But The Belle Jar is questioning why we still go along with these gender roles that have no real reason to follow, and only make women’s lives more stressful.

        Yes, you’re right that women are the target audiences because women are the ones who read parenting magazines, go on parenting websites, and watch shows about parenting. I do not believe it’s “wired” in mothers to do this though. The media is portraying the message that mothers are the ones who should be focused on parenting, it’s marketed for women, and so women are the ones who read those publications.

        Men talk just as much as women. There is absolutely no difference. I have been in situations where men discuss their relationships, sex, ask each other for advice, and while men and women “communicate” differently, there is no difference with “how much” they talk or gossip. Some of it depends on the individual person, regardless of gender, but men and women both gossip.

        Guys don’t talk to each other about sex? Not true. While again, it depends on the individual person, but generally, all people talk about sex, men and women. So to say that men don’t talk about it often? Not quite. The phrase “locker room talk” wouldn’t even exist if men supposedly didn’t talk about sex. That’s what “locker room talk” means. It’s the male equivalent of gossiping.

        That’s too bad you learned that your wife’s friends knew personal information. Women gossip, but men do, too.

      • Note: I think some of the traditions are useful. Father or Mother-shaming shouldn’t be one of them that we continue, I agree with that whole-heartedly.

        Links:
        http://www.today.com/health/gossip-guys-men-women-dish-dirt-differently-789520

        http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/792-boys-gossip-just-as-much-as-girls-study-shows

        http://www.reddit.com/r/AskMen/comments/1eoiqe/do_guys_really_talk_about_their_sex_lives_with/

        http://www.emandlo.com/2010/09/wise-guys-how-much-do-guys-dish-about-sex-with-their-friends/

        In conclusion: I’ll back off from the “women talk with each other more” thing until I get some better references. I posted these links to show how “all over the board” people’s answers are. I found some that I totally vibe and identify with, but there are plenty of examples that prove your case as well.

  3. Well, all other thoughts aside, I will say this- Anyone that thinks a Stay at Home Mother is NOT a Working woman is lying and spreading B.S.!!! It is very hard taking care of kids full time. I can speak with full authority on this, because I was a full time stay at home Father for 2 boys, at the time were 2 & 5. My wife & I were separated for about 9 months, and I had full custody of our sons. I had just retired from the Navy, so I didn’t have to work. It was hard, and I have nothing but respect & admiration for full time Mothers! Women that stay at home with the kids full time are very special women, and I wish them the best. 9 Months was hard enough for me, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t that bad… But anyway, I think my sons & I set a record for how many times we could watch Toy Story……
    Eventually I had to go back to a job. But, I did have a great time being Daddy all day & night. That part was awesome, and I can see how that would give a woman a great deal of satisfaction raising kids full time. Now my wife & I have 4 kids, and she is a stay at home Mother. We both agree that having her raise our kids instead of shipping them off to a babysitter is better idea.
    But I just wanted to speak out in defence of stay at home Mothers, because some people wrongly think that stay at home Mommies are not Working Women……

    • I do agree that mothers who stay at home to take care of their kids are working in that regard. I’m sure it’s not easy. I think that as long as they’re happy doing that, then more power to them!

      I’m happy to live in a generation where women have so many choices. If women want to be stay-at-home moms, they can. If they want to have a career and have kids, they can. If they don’t want kids, they don’t have to have them. While it’s awesome to have all of these choices, what the The Belle Jar’s article was saying was that women shouldn’t be made to feel like one of these choices is the “right” one, and all others are “wrong.” Women are pinned against each other, fighting over these choices. The media debates them as if one choice is better than all the others. I think that we should be happy to make our own choices, and women should be celebrating one another for their choices. We should be celebrating stay-at-home moms, working moms, single moms and childfree women. There are tons of choices to make, and women are just trying to make the choices that are best for them.

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