(I appear to have invented a word! Like Harriet and her wedhead!)
I’ve always found the idea, that being a stay at home Mum or an attachment parent is anti-feminist, an interesting one. In some ways you can see the angle, that staying at home or always being there for your baby are more in line with a 1950s view of the role of women. On the other hand, someone choosing to stay at home or attachment parent, despite what would seem to be pressure in the opposite direction to go back to work and do a job that is more valued by society, is surely a feminist act – just as a woman can be an astronaut, so can she looks after her kids full time.
Having said that, it’s hard to unpick the societal pressures on those decisions – I think it fair to say that you see few stay at home Dads because there are societal and cultural pressures for the father to be the provider and work. So if, as a parent, you believe that your kids are better off being raised solely by you, then it tends to come down to the mother taking on that role.
If you would rather stay at home raising your kids and rather your partner worked then, yay, feminist. If you would like to work more but your partner’s job or boss or perspective doesn’t allow for that then, boo, anti-feminist because you are being controlled by his decisions.
Or you are lost somewhere in the middle – I enjoy being back at work (most of the time) and like the variety of stuff I get to do, having a coffee without interruptions, going to the loo by myself – all deep things. But everytime that Elphie cries when I leave, I feel a deep pang (and often go back for a cuddle that makes me late for work). Each time she develops a new and less desirable behaviour, I wonder whether she would have done so if I was looking after her. In my rational mind I recognise that this behaviour is more likely picked up from other kids at playgroups now she is socialising more, but what if it isn’t?
Elphie, seemingly a happy angel when being looked after by other people, has been a whiney and petulant toddler on Wednesdays and weekends – likely because she’s building up all her emotion when not with us and letting it out full throttle when she is. It doesn’t make it any easier though.
Before I had Elphie, I thought feminism was about equal rights – equal pay, equal job opportunities. That is all well and good if you have no children, but having a child made me realise how broken the system is. You can’t be a feminist by trying to become a man – which is what equality in a patrimonial society give you; you need a system where it is just as valid for you to be a woman and a mother and where men are expected to get home at night just as much as women.
This article inspired this rant. It’s interesting in that it certainly describes a better balance of roles than Fred and I achieve, but it did also reek of “she can have it all”, which would be better expressed as “she can do it all (likely with less help than she’d like from her partner) and get crotchety and grouchy due to being knackered all the time” – perhaps they thought the other phrase was more pithy.
Unfortunately I see the problem but don’t have the answer… Yet.