5 March 2009

My Re-invented Feminism

Beware, I wrote this blog post while in the throes of marital uncertainty, during a period where my beliefs to not have children were dismissed, criticised and questioned by my family and by all the social norms I examined around me. Being different when you are surroundered with so much social conformity is difficult. Excuse my bluntness. Good journey to you.

I often think of those mothers who gently mock other women with condescending remarks such as "you like kids but you'd like to be able to give them back."

This would be about the moment where people like me can lower their head in shame and admit to their own foibles and selfish preoccupations. Yet, having considered everything, I'd like to proudly state that, yes, that description would fit me perfectly.

I do indeed like to give them back.

I have no interest in cooing, playing dumb games, wiping bottoms, changing nappies and cleaning up vomit. Who honestly enjoys this?
I'd much prefer to go shopping, read a book, go out for dinner, challenge my brain at work or university or watch a thought-provoking movie. I'm honest about my complete hedonistic approach to life.

If I were to choose to nurse or help someone or to play good Samaritan it would be an impulsive act. My pro social behavior won't arise as a need to justify my procreation decision or in order to appear selfless and all loving - in other words, in order to dispel the uneasiness of cognitive dissonance.

Still, I can't help thinking about that sort of statement. "You like kids but you'd like to be able to give them back." I can sense the implied understatement that I must be a self-interested, career focused woman who resents getting her manicured hands soiled. The statement fascinates me in as much as it seems totally oblivious to the facts concerning the other half of the population.
Because most men who have children do indeed love them and happily give them back, at least in the first years leading up to schooling.

If women have battled for years for equal opportunity in the work place and in the social fabric of Western society, it worries me that where parenthood is concerned, there is no equal opportunity to speak of.
Why is it ok for men to "give them back" and not ok for women to do so?
That this formula would be uttered by women raises even more concerns since these women are actually more sexist than they realise.

The truth is, if I ever decided to have a child, I'd like to be able to behave like a man. Is that possible? Because that's what I really really want. Equal opportunity!

I want to be able to yes, literally, "give the kid back". Because that is precisely what men do.

Better still, let's go for the full gamut. I don't want to be physically encumbered for 9 months, I want to continue having an uninterrupted, fulfilling education and career, enjoy life, and go home to a loving partner who has likely taken care of a bub for a good part of the day and cooked dinner for me. Then, having plonked myself on a sofa and raised my feet up, I want to get all chummy with my baby for a good couple of hours and then give it back and go out the next day like most men do. Bliss!

To hell with it, let's be frankly demanding. I want a man with a uterus who is happy to carry a child for 9 months for the joys of becoming a parent, who is selfless about giving up his career for a couple of months (at least) or perhaps years and who will then work hard at this unquestionably loving, selfless child raising task for the benefit of the family...all this, without a salary!!! Yes! Now we're talking emancipation. Anyone interested?

Where do I find these men?