Feminism and Homemaking are not Compatible

TC linked to this article in the Atlantic on feminism and homemakers by Wurtzel.

While the original article has its inaccuracies and slip-shod thinking, it is absolutely correct in its main point:

Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

A women can not be both a feminist and a stay-at-home mother; the two are mutually exclusive.

And there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic.

Modern feminism (with the possible exception of certain forms of liberal feminism which I am going to ignore for this post, but would probably be easier categorized as libertarianism rather than a form of feminism) is based on the application of marxian methodology to sexual relations. In marxian analysis, all power is, at base, economic power and varying groups are in competition with each other for this power. When marxian analysis is applied to sexual relations, the inevitable conclusion is that women and men are in a power conflict and women are economically oppressed. Only by by gaining economic power can women no longer be oppressed. Hence feminism.

Women are oppressed because they are not financially independent; only the financially independent woman can be free of oppression.

The traditional home-maker and the stay-at-home mother is economically dependent on the male breadwinner and is therefore oppressed.

Economic self-sufficiency is feminism.

****

The augmentation of her main point is dead on as well:

Being a mother isn’t a real job

something becomes a job when you are paid for it — and until then, it’s just a part of life.

A job is a relationship where money is exchanged for labour. If you are not getting paid, you do not have a job.

Homemaking is not a job because the homemaker is not being paid.

****

There is one specific way in which being a homemaker can be a job.

If there is a written contract between the homemaker and the breadwinner, in which the breadwinner is contractually obligated to pay the homemaker a clearly defined sum for clearly defined, contractually obligated childcare duties independently of the state of the marriage and marriage contract, the homemaker can be said to have a job.

****

Some guy named Friedersdorf had a response to the original article.

When questioning the main point of the original argument, that being a mother is a job, he pisses all over such petty things as logic. (On the other hand, his destruction of Wurtzel’s analysis of electoral politics is not bad, but her analysis was rather shoddy, so that’s not exactly something to brag about).

His argument essentially boils down to: being a homemaker is a job because it costs a lot to hire a caregiver and because raising children is both important and somewhat difficult.

Just because something requires effort, costs a lot to replace, and is important does not make it a job.

The fallacy of this is obvious. It is important that I fry myself a sausage and the alternative of eating out can be costly, that does not mean I have a job as a chef. Under his argument almost any activity can be considered a job, making the whole concept of a job meaningless.

Something is only a job if you get paid. Homemaking is not a job.

He then goes on with a tale about his mother, of which I’ll only quote a portion:

To describe her as dependent on my father for income is accurate only insofar as my parents decided together that she’d forgo working, plus the wage premium she’d gain from those lost years of work experience, to raise my sister and me, and to do other uncompensated labor

In other words, it’s entirely accurate. That’s very much being dependent; she voluntarily chose to be dependent, but she’s still dependent on a man to provide for her.

One other thing. Contrary to his assertions, his mother was not acting like a feminist. She may have had all the right cant, but she did not live them.

****

As a side note, he then makes this asinine assertion:

The legal recognition of community property was a major, rightfully celebrated feminist victory.

It was not a feminist victory. It was a form of marital law developed from civil law (as opposed to common law) and Catholic social teaching so that children were provided for if the husband died, not because of what it did for women. It preceded feminism by centuries and has only been adopted in less than a dozen states. It was, at most, a partial victory of civil law over common law in some jurisdictions (which is still not good, but that’s currently irrelevant). It was neither feminist, nor anything resembling a victory.

****

Of course, near the end of the article he actually almost begins to stumble upon the reality of the situation, seemingly by pure accident:

GDP is evidently her bottom line.

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

Although,not GDP per se, economics is feminism’s bottom line. The economic power and independence of women is the central point of feminism. (Other forms of power/independence, such as political power, which are critical to feminism would flow from naturally from economic independence/power).

The notion, implicit in Wurzel’s piece, that men and women should set aside the work arrangements that best suit their families in order to further an ideological agenda

He hits the nail on the head. Feminism is an ideological agenda. It requires that men and women set aside “best suited” work arrangements in favour of the women being economically independent.

That’s exactly the damn point Wurzel was making.

If a family is not willing to do this, they are not feminist.

Feminism may require sacrifice so that a women can be economically independent.

****

The paragraph before that he stumbles upon another truth. Friedersdorf states this:

If anything, society benefits from a diversity of arrangements being tried all at once, both because variety is more conducive to fulfilling diverse individuals, and because stay-at-home parents and working parents can likely learn something from their analogs using a somewhat different model.

He is right, society does benefit from a diversity of family arrangements.

****

So, if he understands both that Wurzel is arguing that feminism requires women be economically independent and he understands that society may benefit if not every women is economically independent, what’s his problem?

His problem is that he is unable to connect the two ideas. That is why he makes up all sorts of half-baked justifications for why a homemaker somehow has a job, even though she is not getting paid, and is somehow independent, even though she depends entirely on someone else’s income for sustenance.

He is not able to connect the two ideas because he wants to be labelled a feminist (or supporter of feminism, it’s unclear which from the article and the difference is irrelevant for our purpose) without actually adhering to feminism.

As soon as he connects the two ideas his thinking will become clear and he wouldn’t have to make such logical contortions to continue to hold his own ideas, but then he would have to make a choice.

He would have to choose between feminism and his support for multiple family arrangements, because homemaking and feminism are mutually exclusive. This, of course, presents a dilemma.

If he chose feminism he would have to *shudder* judge other people’s decisions.

If he chose the acceptance of multiple family arrangements, he would *gasp* no longer be supporting feminism.

He is like the liberal Christian deciding whether he wants to follow the Bible or follow worldly wisdom. The “Christian” can’t make choice, so instead he decides to contort the Bible to fit worldly wisdom. Friedersdorf can’t make a decision so he contorts the English language and logic so that independence means dependence and a job includes any activity that requires some skill, effort, and someone somewhere gets paid for.

****

Friedersdorf’s confusion is not solely his own. Many seem to have this confusion; it is often called choice feminism.

Feminism has become very popular; most women want to be identified as strong and independent feminists. Most liberal men want to be seen as supporting female equality and feminism (which are not necessarily the same thing).

Yet, most women do not actually want what feminism is selling. They want to be dependent and have a man upon whom they can depend, they want to stay at home with their children, they don’t want to have to work at a job. Even when they work, a significant number of women choose to work in fields no different from what they would be doing as a homemaker anyway (ie. teaching, non-registered nursing, child care, etc.)

They don’t want feminism, but they want the label of feminism. So, what do they do?

They contort. They twist feminism, the English language, and logic so that they can somehow define themselves as feminist while doing things that are a denial of feminism.

They contort until somehow they have convinced themselves that being a homemaker, totally dependent on a man for income and devoted entirely to children and the home, is somehow a feminist act.

But it can not be. A women can be a homemaker or she can be a feminist. She can not be both.

Trying to be both is nothing more than self-delusion.

Choice feminism isn’t.

****

All this isn’t to say homemaking is a bad thing. In fact, I am opposed to feminism and I am in favour of woman staying home as homemakers and, if I marry, I will marry someone who wants to be a homemaker.

I support families who decide the wife should be a homemaker. I’m not going to say that it’s the hardest job in the world, because it isn’t particularly hard and it’s not a job, but I will say it’s a respectable and worthwhile life path.

But there has to be a choice: feminism or homemaking.

If homemaking is your thing, repudiate feminism. If feminism is your thing, then live it and be economically independent.

If you don’t like that feminism requires economic independence, perhaps you may want to reconsider your attachment to it.


9 responses to “Feminism and Homemaking are not Compatible

  • littlepdog

    Divorce ‘more likely’ for couples who split chores:
    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8539793/divorce-risk-for-couples-sharing-housework

    Watch how the Norwegians try and reconcile feminism in the home with marital failure, failing to realize the culprit is the acquiescent beta husbands.

  • El Bastardo

    Unfortunately, most of these women will not listen to your advice; many women today are “fahsionistas” and can you guess what ideology is in fashion right now? if you guessed feminism; gie yourself the “tax-guzzlers-of-we-don’t-care-who-or-what-we-screw pat on the back.

  • JMsmith

    I think you overstate the connection between a “job” and financial remuneration. It’s fine to stipulate that definition for the sake of an argument, but we certainly use the word much more flexibly (e.g. “It’s your job to take out the garbage,” “Honey, I’ve got a job for you,” etc.). More to the point, from the perspective of the family, the breadwinner’s job is not to do X for money. His job is simply to get money. That’s what he does for the family. When I leave home this morning, I’ll go get money and my wife will go get groceries. She can’t get the groceries if I don’t get the money; I can’t get the money if she doesn’t get the groceries.

    I don’t mean to erase the special status of the breadwinner. As you say, getting money is harder than getting groceries, and not necessarily more interesting. But to a breadwinner with a family, the job of getting money does not appear radically different than all the other jobs that are necessary to supporting that family. Single people have a hard time seeing this. I was a working single long enough to know it.

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  • Free Northerner

    @ LittlePDog: NIce study. Thanks.

    @ EB: I don’t doubt most people will ignore it, but it is here for those who will heed.

    @JMS: There are numerous variations on what the word job can mean, true, but the original article was referring to a job proper: remunerative work. For this article, I was using the word job in that sense, as the independence provided by providing for one’s own was the main point of the discussion.

  • dorsey47

    @El Bastardo I guessed Fifty Shades of Submission.

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