A recent Facebook conversation has got me on this kick. Let me speak to the ladies right now. There are three groups I’d like to speak to: those who want to be stay-at-home mothers or homemakers, those who want careers and those who want to work. I know you are thinking the second and third group sound like the same thing, but I’ll explain the division later.
First group: those who want to be stay-at-home mothers or homemakers. I want to let you know that there is nothing wrong with you or this choice. I know the feminist movement will make you think or feel that you are not performing at your optimal level, or that you are somehow betraying the cause, but you can’t live your life for them. You must live for you. And your future family. You are not any less of a woman just because you want to stay at home and raise a family. This is a worthy goal and a lot of hard work, but very rewarding. Don’t let others make you feel bad for this choice.
Feminism is about choice (or at least I thought it was) so you can choose to be a homemaker. Now, I know some will say women are so indoctrinated with patriarchy that they cannot make this choice. That “choosing” to be a homemaker isn’t really a choice. That you really don’t know what you are doing. Is it just me or does that sound insulting (and could we say anti-feminist)? If you are a woman of sound mind and faculties, then you can certainly decide the pattern of your life. After all, by that logic could we also say that feminists are so indoctrinated with feminism that they go against their own biological drive to reproduce??? On some level, we are all cogs in the wheel and we make choices based on our own vantage points. Without going into a large, philosophical argument on the nature of “choice,” I’ll move on.
Now for the second group: those who want careers. I want to let you know also that there is nothing wrong with you or this choice. Here is where I want to make the distinction between career and work. Career in the modern sense usually means a job or profession one takes up for a significant portion of one’s life. Careers require some type of training and usually involve a serious of jobs taken in a certain industry or sector. So for instance, one can have a career in engineering, business, the arts, medicine, machinery, plumbing, etc. It means one went through some sort of training and has had various jobs in that area in order to gain experience to move to the next level. There is a hierarchy.
So if a woman desires to have a career in the way I just defined it, then that is a good choice. There’s nothing wrong with it as with the homemaker choice. If a woman has the talent and ability to perform well in her given career field, she should share that. The world needs it. She could save someone’s life.
Onto the third group now. In contrast to a career, these women want to work. They want a job. A job I’m sure they will like, maybe even find fulfilling. Working in a cube farm with no advancement opportunities and making entry-level salary is what I define as work. If this is what you’ve been doing for the last ten years, then you don’t have a career, woman, you have a job. And there’s nothing wrong with a job. It pays the bills. Don’t confuse pushing paperwork with commanding a boardroom full of investors.
If you are eyeing the corner office, please know that it will take a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get there. I know you are thinking you can just pay or bribe your way into that CEO office, that millionaires are corrupt people, or that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but the research in that area doesn’t support that assumption. The book Millionaire Next Door shows that most millionaires are just ordinary people. By the way, the definition of a millionaire isn’t someone who makes a million dollars a year; it’s someone who’s net worth (assets minus liabilities) is a million dollars.
Bottom line, women have choices. Choices are good if managed well. Ever heard of analysis paralysis? All of the choices I outlined above: homemaking, careering, and working are all on the same level or same plane. One isn’t any better or worse than the other. And of course, one can combine these roles over the course of one’s life. Making one choice doesn’t necessarily preclude the others, but it can make them much harder to choose.
Drawing to a close, let me clarify some points because I know some folks don’t read good.
1. In no way are these three options a woman’s only choice. These are simply the three covered here.
2. I’m not saying being a mother or homemaker is the pinnacle of possibility for a woman. I’m not arguing that biology is destiny or any kind of biological determinism. Saying something is A worthy cause is not the same thing as saying it is THE worthy cause. Please don’t argue extremes.
3. I used dictionary definitions of career. Dictionary definitions are what most people, your average person, agree is the definition of a word. Words have meaning. Meaning is determined by usage. This is very basic linguistics. English, as well as other languages, have evolved over time based on how people use words. Common usage is called the connotation of a word; the dictionary definition is called the denotation of a word. A word’s meaning is somewhat set, set enough so that if one were to use a word in daily life the person one is communicating with would be able to understand what is being conveyed. However, meanings do change over time. In other words, you can’t just make up definitions on the fly. Unless you enjoy being misunderstood. Words can’t just mean what you want them to mean when you want them to mean them. A common argumentative method is to change meanings of words so that the argument shifts from the topic at hand to the meaning of words. Classic deflection. Moving the goalposts.
4. Women have a bad habit of saying one thing while meaning something else. I define terms so that I am clear on what I am saying and my intentions are made manifest.
5. I harp on women because I am one. I want us to do better. But first things first, we gotta be honest with ourselves. Then we can be honest with others. Say what you mean and mean what you say. No backtracking, no “that’s not what I meant.” Grow some thick skin.