Thanks to my own life experiences, I've come to realize that sometimes feminist ideals get a bit... skewed. I strongly believe in the equality of men and women. I believe that women should get paid just as much as men do when working the same job. I believe women should have the right to make their own decisions about every. single. thing. in their lives. Strangely, though, when some women make the decision to be a wife and mother, it's as though they have chosen to stomp on all those things that the women's rights movement worked to give them.
Nowadays, most women are raised to believe that unless they go to college, choose a career, and bring in a comparable salary to that of their male counterpart, they are wasting their potential. What's even worse, if they DID go to college and have a career, and then give it up to stay at home with their children, they are wasting all the time and money that they put into their education to simply do laundry and change diapers. I will never forget the response I received from my professor when I told her I would be leaving the Ph.D. program to take care of my unborn child. "What a complete waste and disappointment to women," her expression told me loud and clear.
But what if I do want to be a... homemaker? (Ugh. My old assumptions still make it hard for that word to come out of my mouth.) I will be the first to admit that I long for some adult interaction and a greater sense of purpose in the world, but is having a career really the only way to fulfill those needs? What about part-time work or volunteering? And honestly, I simply cannot fathom taking on an outside career and still having all of the household duties waiting for me when I get home. I'd rather do all of it myself than putting distance between my home and me by hiring others to do it instead. I don't want to lose touch with my children, or the art of cooking that I've become surprisingly fond of, or the rare ability to do whatever I feel called to because I'm not forced to do only what needs to be done between my job and maintenance of my home.
What keeps me from cultivating a sense of pride in being a homemaker or housewife is that nagging little voice in my head that says my education was a waste if I'm not out there using it. The little voice tells me that I won't be important or that my husband won't feel proud of me the way I feel pride for his accomplishments as a doctor. I don't want to feel as though I'm nothing but a woman doing chores. I don't really think that my criticism for homemaking is innate because all of my concerns and fears about it stem from what others will think of me. It's an interesting cultural idea that has come about in the wake of women's rights: Women can choose to do anything, but choosing to be a housewife is the wrong choice.
How can we reclaim the dignity, honor, and respect that should be afforded such an important role? Afterall, nothing could be accomplished without a home to reside in, food to eat, and babies born to change the world for the next generation. If we - homemakers of all walks of life and genders - don't do it, who will?