Equal, but Different (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately.

Hold on now–don’t go all million moms on me or anything.

I meant I’ve been thinking about gender.  Mostly, the differences between men and women (besides the obvious.)

So I’ve been reading and thinking–a dangerous combination for me–and to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about the things I’ve read.

Basically, I’ve been presented with the idea that feminism is a big contributor to the somewhat depressing state of our society today.  Now, that statement needs some clarification and some qualification.  I shouldn’t have written “feminism.”  I should have written, “Feminism.”  Like, Gloria Steinem Feminism.

The aforementioned state of our society is that kids are raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, whoever, because mom got pregnant when she was fifteen. Teen Dad has no responsibility at all.  Everyone gets divorced, more than once sometimes.  In short, “the family” is in shambles.  Lots of kids are so ill-behaved, you’d like to just pinch their little heads right off.

Before anyone asks me who peed in my Cheerios this morning, let me say I don’t even like Cheerios.

Let’s be honest.  Good, old-fashioned morals like respect (including for oneself) are somewhat decreased.  I’m sure that every generation has said that about the one after them, but maybe that’s because it’s the truth.

I digress.

My point was about feminism.

As a young person who knew absolutely everything about everything, I can assure you marriage and children weren’t top on my list.  I could have a career just like a man.  I didn’t need a man to complete me.  My own grandmother asked me why I wanted to get married–she said it just meant I’d have someone telling me what to do for the next fifty years.  Point taken, Grandmother.

But as time passed and things changed, I began to wonder about my highbrow ideals.  I got married, and a few years later my son was born.  That was the turning point.

I had a job when I got pregnant, but the thought occurred to me that someone would have to take care of my baby.  We talked it over, and I could not tolerate the thought of someone else raising him.  We traded our car for a cheaper one, and became a one-income family.  It was tight.  It was hard.

But it was worth it.

Now, many years later, I’m finally reflecting on my roles as both a mother and a wife.

I’m going to give you a very general summation of the point of my current readings.  Because of the feminist movement, gender roles have become blurred.  Each gender has double the responsibility and can therefore only do half as well.

Another interesting point is that although feminism was meant to “free” women, it has, in fact, only hurt them.  Women have become sexually objectified to the point of complete detachment, and the pressure to look a certain way, do it all and be everything is taking its toll.  Although we women are supposedly “free” and “equal,” we are in fact more unhappy than at any time in history.

Men have also supposedly been hurt.  Because they can sleep with whoever with no emotional attachment, they have no respect for women.  Because the woman works and calls the shots, they have no responsibilities.  They have become apathetic and uninvolved. No one is depending on them for anything.

The things I have read (which I am leaving anonymous for now) cite the sky-rocketing divorce rate, more troubled kids and kids diagnosed with ADHD and similar disorders, and more rampant use of antidepressants.  All of these things can be attributed, at least in part, to the dissolution of gender roles and family values.

I have found all of these topics extremely interesting, and more than that, I am extremely interested to hear some opinions from my beloved readers.  Right now, I’m not going to state my own opinions.  I’m saving that for a follow-up post.  I just wanted to share these things I’ve read and get some feedback.  I have an interesting perspective.  I am a child of divorce, I was raised by someone other than my parents, and my mother was a teen mom.  Now I’m a stay at home mother and have been in my first and only marriage for fifteen years now.  By some standards that may not make our marriage a success yet, but I think we’re on the right road.  So I have lots of thoughts about feminism and gender roles.

I can’t wait to hear yours, too.  What do you think about our current culture? Gender roles?  Feminism? Let it rip!

read to be read at yeahwrite.me


 

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21 thoughts on “Equal, but Different (Part 1)

  1. Ooh, this is very interesting and thought provoking. I have a deep conviction about equal rights for women, equal pay, etc. But as I said in my post, I feel very overwhelmed, at times, with the stress and guilt that comes with having to do all things and do them well.

    Glad we found each other. Can’t wait to hear your opinion on this matter!
    Mamarific recently posted..When Enough Isn’t EnoughMy Profile

  2. “Because of the feminist movement, gender roles have become blurred. Each gender has double the responsibility and can therefore only do half as well.”

    This really made me think (actually the whole post did and I find it VERY interesting). I think women still aren’t being treated as equal to men in many ways, but at the same time women and men are not the same.

    Unfortunately society has a problem with distinguishing “equal” and “same”, and for me that’s the core of the problem with the whole Feminism thing.
    Kerstin recently posted..Conversation OfficerMy Profile

  3. This is such an interesting topic, and I’m really looking forward to reading everyone’s responses. I always considered myself to be a feminist, and didn’t think much about it. Until… I realized that somehow, I had stumbled into a life that I loved, and I’m a SAHM of three, with a husband who handles all the money, the trash, and killing the bugs. I handle everything else. We talk about everything, and consult each other on decisions, but mostly we have a pretty clear division of labor that works for us – and I have a very traditional, pre-feminist sort of household. I also have two daughters, who are growing up believing that they are brave and bold and smart and wonderful, and they get that message everywhere. But my son – I’m so aware now of how incredibly anti-men things are, how many commercials show the father figure as a buffoon, how shopping for childrens books is challenging when you’re looking for a book that’ll appeal to a boy because they all seem to lean towards princesses. How educationally – girls are thriving in elementary school, and my boy is falling behind. Not because he’s not smart, but because he’s a boy, and developmentally, he’s not where his best (girl) friend is. Why isn’t that being addressed? I feel like we’ve gone overboard on trying to fix the inequalities and now have created a situation where little boys are afterthoughts.
    Melissa recently posted..Near drowningMy Profile

    • An excellent point. I think ALL children need to be taught that they can learn about any subject that they want. I don’t think people really have a grip on this “equality” thing.

  4. Ooh, what a topic. I bet people have some pretty strong opinions on this. I think it’s hard to make blanket statements about what causes divorce or the breakdown of the family. I can’t speak to raising children (I don’t have any), but I can talk about marriage. And what I know is that regardless of who works and who plays what roles, at the end of the day it’s about two people making a commitment to each other. It’s about sticking it through when it’s not so easy. It’s about compromise and supporting one another (and hopefully it’s about fun too!). Each marriage is different and each couple has to find what works for them.

    • Respect is a big player. That could be a whole other topic.

      I haven’t made much of a statement either way, but I will say I think people give up too easily after that whole honeymoon phase is over.

      I read a little saying the other day that said “love is a verb.” I agree.

  5. In Malaysia or most Asian countries, the alpha male still prevails. Maybe inferiority is the cause of marriage breakdowns when the wife is the breadwinner of the family. Nonetheless, we can’t make conclusions based on what we see from the outside. Marriage is more than that. It involves emotions and values as well.
    jamie recently posted..Pledge to Live GreenMy Profile

  6. Pre-feminist movement, women were home with the kids because they didn’t have the choice to leave. There were no divorce and alimony laws that would have provided women the opportunity to maintain a separate household. There were no fair labor practices that would have assured a woman a position in the workforce.
    The feminist movement was good for women. It gave them choices they never had before. Maybe the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family is happening because the formula is intrinsically flawed. We need to stop waxing poetic about a time when women were tethered to their homes.
    (I’m not saying that you are doing that, by the way! This topic is clearly something I’m passionate about!)

    • So do you think the traditional family flawed?

      I have strong feelings about the fact that there is no one more qualified than me to raise my kids, not even my husband, who happens to be a great dad. Blame science or God or evolution, but mom is mom. Period.

      But people have their own life to live and their own choices. I believe strongly in equal choices, but sometimes I think people might need to re-evaluate their choices. Just because you have the right to do it all doesn’t mean you should.

  7. Very interesting concept. It used to be that the woman stayed home taking care of the kids and running the house while the man went to work. But now women are not in that role anymore. The problem is – we as society have still held onto what is deemed woman’s responsibility and what is mans.For example, how many times have you heard women complain about working full time somewhere but still having to come home and do laundry, cook, and clean house? This is where it gets hard for women working outside the home because these things still fall on a woman’s shoulder, mainly due to history.
    Debbie recently posted..Around Town – things I seeMy Profile

    • This is an interesting point that has a lot to do with my thoughts. Are we programmed to do the work at home or are we actually better at it?

      We had a monster storm here. There is no power and won’t be for many days. I am updating from my phone, and there is no way I will be posting that way!

      See you soon!

  8. Man, you are brave! I’ll admit to bristling when I first started reading, but this is a very thought-provoking post.

    For me, feminism is about respecting women and having choices. I recently heard a woman say she wasn’t a feminist and I had to bite my tongue so hard I hurt myself (extended family, not worth the argument). Because from what little I knew of her, I’m pretty sure she wants choices, wants equal pay, etc…

    I don’t know exactly what’s behind all the changes in society you covered, but I’m pretty sure it can’t all be blamed on respecting women or even feminism with a capital F.

    And I’m pretty sure men could always sleep with whoever they wanted (or at least that’s what I’ve heard from Mad Men)!
    Tracy recently posted..Finding the Funny 22 (Electric Boogaloo)My Profile

  9. Once when I was in college, an older man told me that he felt many of society’s ills had come about when women left home and went into the workforce. It upset me so badly when he said that. I argued that I should be able to do whatever I wanted. I should have the same choices as any young man my age. He said he didn’t disagree with that, but then he began to explain his stance further. He said that the women who chose to stay home had the most important job in the world. While many people felt that staying at home was limiting and unequal, he felt those women who stayed at home, run the household, and raised their children were the very people who shaped everything about society through the environment they created for their children, and what they instilled in their them. He said there was no job more difficult; and none more important. He actually said that women were the “foundation” of society.

    I’m just saying that was his argument. I’m not saying that he was right in his argument. I don’t think it’s black and white, and I don’t think one thing can be identified as the sole cause of anything that large. However, now that I’m older and have children, I do view his argument a bit differently, and I have thought about it many times.

    I am glad that I have had choices and that my daughter will have choices in this life. I believe that she can do anything she sets her mind to, and I let her know that every day. I’ve been a stay at home mom, a working mom, and now a work at home mom. I get tremendous satisfaction out of my work and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do it and be respected for it, but I have also come to appreciate being at home with my kids much more than ever before.

    This is a very thought-provoking post, and you were very brave to delve into it!
    Jenny Leigh recently posted..Decisions, decisionsMy Profile

  10. Great post…great thoughts and to the most part true. I was a child of divorced parents…I was a teen mum who’s mariage lasted 15 years before dissolving and my second marriage has lasted 12 years this year. I was a stay at home mum because I instinctively knew that this was the best thing for my kids. They are lateral thinking problem solving unique human beings with great senses of humour and despite having to wade through the minefield of their own parents divorce…seem to have survived admirably with their heads screwed on straight. The world isn’t the place that Beavers mum raised her kids in any more. We need to work out what is best for families and support it to the nth degree…give mums every opportunity to stay at home with their children and do society a massive favour. Pay attention governments…mums are the greatest volunteer work force known to man!

  11. I have so many thoughts on this subject but at the end of a long day with a toddler and three month-old I hardly have the brain power to articulate my thoughts on anything deeper than Spongebob. Ha!

    But I can say this…Starting with the obvious, men and women are clearly different. When did things become so PC that we can’t even acknowledge differences in the sexes without fear of offending someone? The mother is the nurturer and the father is the provider. Men can be nurturing and women can provide, but I feel overall we are more successful when we work in our intended roles.

    I do believe the mother is the one intended to raise the kids. Do I want to leave my kids at a daycare center all day long with overworked employees who earn minimum wage? NO! That being said, I literally had no choice when my oldest daughter was little, so to daycare she went. We managed. It didn’t screw her up for life. Now I’m in the blessed position to be able to stay home with my kids because I’m married and have a partner. We’re both happy that I get to stay home and raise them, even though it’s a huge financial sacrifice.

    Sometimes I think about how much money I could be making. The job I walked away from earned me ten thousand dollars in bonuses the year I left. So, do I wish I could still get pedicures and manicures like I could when I was working? Yep. Do I wish I could get my hair done at the salon? Yes. Do I miss having a bigger entertainment budget? Absolutely. But we manage and it’s totally worth it. Years from now I want to look back on the things I did with my children, not missing those moments because I worked so I could go to the movies more often. Know what I mean? It makes me sad that the society we live in “requires” two incomes. Many families wrongly think they can’t afford for the mom to stay home. In many cases it’s totally doable if you’re willing to cut back.
    Melissa recently posted..“Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn” (Or, “The Review That Wasn’t”)My Profile

    • I agree with you. We made the big change when Ian was born. And I also agree that men and women do have specific…shall we say…..talents.

      But boy, if you want to tick ladies off, just imply that you can’t have it all. How did we get like this? An older generation would see it as shame if a mother left her kids with someone else to raise, but now it’s the other way around.

      I have a lot of mixed feels, and now that the power is back on, I can’t wait to throw them all out there for the wolves.

  12. The phrase “have it all” bothers me. Besides the fact that it seems like a selfish way to think, who said you should “have it all” at the same time? These days, the average life span is far longer than ever before. Raising children is a relatively short part of it. A woman can raise her children, then get into her career or whatever her “all” is. This doesn’t just apply to women who work. I know plenty stay-at-home moms who volunteer so much that it resembles a full-time job. No one, I don’t care who you are, can be the best mom she can be or the best employee she can be when she is doing both at the same time. Sometimes, people really don’t have a choice. Most times they do. The more something is accepted, the more people will do it, the more it becomes the norm, to where it becomes almost expected, regardless of whether it is right or not.
    I have enjoyed reading all of the thoughts given here. It helps me get my thoughts in order and priorities straight. I look forward to reading yours.
    Christine recently posted..I NEED a Bigger BrainMy Profile

  13. Pingback: Equal, but Different, Part 2 (Finally!) » The (not so) Special Mother

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