I know a lot of feminists. And I know a lot of parents. And in the past, feminism and motherhood were polar opposites.
And I mean, what would I know about it, really? I’m childless. I don’t know a lot about the struggle to be a feminist parent. I’ve read a lot of blogs about it, and I’ve done a lot of research, but I don’t know from experience. However, I do know that nothing prepares you for the choice to stay at home or work. Nothing prepares you for the choice between switching one life for another – or for deciding to hire a nanny.
Childcare is not a feminist profession by nature. It’s actually something most women were expected to do before they got married or have kids. Even when I was a child, most little girls dreamed of being babysitters, and everyone passed out homemade flyers and called their neighbours excitedly when they turned 13. “I’ve passed the Babysitting Course! I’m ready!”
Now, however, I find that nannying is a feminist job, because the people who do it make an informed choice to do so. I have a double set of skills – I’m a writer and marketing professional and I’m a nanny. I went to school for one profession and honed the other by experience. And I chose to nanny instead of continue to try to freelance and find jobs solely in my field. I chose it, because I’m good at it, I enjoy it, and there is a need for people like me.
So how is that not a choice? My friend Anne over at The Belle Jar wrote a blog about Elizabeth Wurtzel and how she [Elizabeth] stated that stay-at-home-motherhood isn’t a choice. But isn’t choice itself inherently feminist? Isn’t choosing to do what’s best for you and your family feminist? And isn’t the ability to make those choices feminist?
I think it’s easy to look down on women for the choices they make. It’s not new – we’ve been doing it since time began. But I always look these feminists in the eye and tell them, “I could have chosen to do many things. I still can choose to do many things. And the choices that I make for myself support my feminism and those of women in general.”
I am not regretful of my choice to nanny. The only thing I regret is that some women feel like they have no choice. In that case, I would encourage my fellow feminists to stand beside them and help them to try to feminize their life in the ways that work for them. Let’s set judgement aside. It’s only tearing up the solidarity our mothers and sisters fought for 50 years ago.
I know Rosie would agree.