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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Suit And The Apron

Between the Equal Rights Amendment and Hillary Clinton, feminism underwent a transformation. Before this change, feminism was a nice, well-adjusted movement with honorable aims and reasonable practices, something both men and women could support.

Somewhere along the line, though, a large group of feminists became exposed to a heavy dosage of gamma radiation (maybe at a protest against nuclear weapons), and a new, monstrous form of feminism was born. It's a small, angry sub-movement that is possessed by a wild paranoid insecurity over child-rearing, which it believes is an impure pursuit. No, they don't account for all feminists, but Jordan Osserman '11's recent column "Stand Your Ground" (Nov. 20) reveals just how prevalent this extreme wing is.

Now, before I, an openly male individual, begin to criticize this form of feminism, let me clarify what sort of feminist I am. I believe that women and men alike need to fight for the right for women to be free to choose the direction of their lives. This isn't only limited to career paths, though careers provide a good example. I believe that the majority of feminists agree with my belief that women should be able to break out of the traditional mother role if they so desire, but if they are happy there, they have every right to remain.

That terrible transformation of feminism and the quotation that irked Osserman are very related. His column reports to us that Barack Obama's transition web site states, "When people ask Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate. First and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom."

I ask, what's wrong with being a mom? I won't lie: I, like Osserman, voted for Obama in the primaries. While I watched the campaign trail in the days leading up to the general election, it seemed like Michelle Obama really loved her children and made great efforts to try to be present on the campaign trail herself while balancing the need for her children to lead a normal life. The Obamas continue to stress the need for a normal life in the White House. Yes, Michelle does want to follow some political pursuits of her own, but she is adamant that her children must come first.

It doesn't seem like caring for one's children is the problem, so where did she go wrong? Well, unless the offended feminists want to argue that raising children is a waste of time, then it must be that they don't want her kids to be "first and foremost" to her.

This baffles me, since I thought we were fighting to liberate women from unfair stereotypes, not to simply replace the apron with a suit. We do a disservice to our entire society when we try to promulgate the myth that the womanly ideal is ferociously independent, caring for neither kin nor neighbor. I believe in feminism because I believe that all people have the right to decide their own fate, and if someone, be they a woman or a man, wishes to invest his or her time in raising a child, they have every right to do so.

Why do I care about this? Because my mother was a housewife during my childhood. I'm the eldest of three children, and after I was born my mother quit her job and decided to spend her time raising me and, later, my brother and sister. When they argue that a housewife is a shame to her gender, the radical feminists devalue what is important to my mother, and I don't take that lightly.

Here's the most beautiful part: Her life isn't over simply because I've left. As soon as we children were all independent, my mother went out and got a job again because she wanted to return to work. Thanks to the feminist movement, she was able to spend time raising her children and then seamlessly re-enter the workforce. The two are by no means mutually exclusive in a single lifetime.

Please, we owe it to all of the women in our lives, be they mothers, wives or even friends, not to bludgeon them into predetermined images. We can label women as housewives or businesswomen, but we're all individuals underneath, and we all have the right to carve our own paths. Michelle Obama, if you want to focus on raising your children and fight for women's interests at the same time, more power to you.