valancystirling: (Default)
How many times have I heard people say something like, The ideal of feminism is that woman have the opportunity to CHOOSE to be a career woman or a mother or both.

So many I've lost count, and you know what? It's totally meaningless. It's like one of those things you can say to sound like you get it, but you really don't.

My big argument to this whole right to choose theory is that what kind of choice are women really able to make? I would propose that women are not given the opportunity, in general, to make an informed choice.

There is nothing simple or straightforward about choosing a career or motherhood, or both. Nothing simple at all. You could theoretically make your list of pros and cons, but how many women factor in things they don't expect? Hormones and the urges they cause, instincts, the biological impulse to reproduce, the feelings of loss over whatever was not chosen.

Do women know to factor in how much they're going to--unexpectedly--want to stay home with their baby instead of going back to work as planned? Will they factor in how in the world they might be able to afford that if they weren't planning for it? Nearly all women I know who work have said at one point or another that they wish they could have afforded to stay home with the baby for longer or forever, or that they didn't expect to feel that way at all, that it was so much harder to compartmentalize life than they expected.

Do women know how much they might regret leaving the workplace to have a family? Do they know how isolating it might be intellectually, and how--even though motherhood is mentally stimulating--they might have to make a huge effort just to be able to get time to think deep thoughts and have meaningful conversations?

How many women really know what they're getting into either way? How many have been around small children with real frequency before having their own children? How many have a realistic idea what life with small children is like? How many have been shocked and wanted to undo it? And how many know how it will feel to go through with putting off having kids even when they start having biological urges that don't fit in with the plan?

I can only speak for myself, but I definitely did not make an informed choice. How could I? I was never around kids except occasionally, briefly, certainly not enough to understand what being their primary caretake would entail.

But maybe something so primal doesn't even need to be decided up on anyway. Maybe having a life plan is one of those things that you make expecting the unexpected to interfere with.

But I can't help but think it would be nice to have meaningful discussions about this, what each choice could mean to an individual, what it DOESN'T mean.

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valancystirling

December 2010

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