Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oh bollocks

I consider myself a feminist. I think the fight for equality is not over. However when you say any choice is wrong for women, including that of housewife, you are repressing women. I am a woman, and this is my choice.

The Australian version of 60 Minutes did a piece on secular woman who choose to be housewives.* They intercut it with an interview with Germaine Greer, which just stood my teeth on edge. Go and have a look here. I've pulled a few quotes out of the transcript to fisk.

ELLEN FANNING: Sophie is one of a new wave of women who DON'T want it all. Sick of struggling to achieve the seemingly impossible balance of work, home and family. So despite greater career opportunities, better pay, even sexual liberation, last month, a landmark US survey found women are less and less happy. Many want to live more like their grandma - spend less time at work, and more time at home with the kids. These are young women who don't want to turn into their own frazzled working mothers, or don't want their kids, to be juggled in the way they were.

Guess what, being a latchkey child is a bitch. Women have always worked, my grandmother and her sister both worked, sometimes 50-60 hours a week or better. But my mother and her cousin went to their grandmother's house, where there was someone home to take care of things and keep them safe. Having to fight all day between school and daycare, or coming home to an empty house is no picnic. And don't even get me started on "sexual liberation". I have to find the source but I believe something like 65-70% of sexual abuse is committed by a mother's boyfriend or a stepfather. **

Sorry second wave*** feminists, we're not selfish or self-centered enough to do to our children what you did to us. The only ones I know of are the ones who listened to you and got way over their heads in debt, usually student loans, before they realized what they were doing. And they know it, and are miserable.#

Moving on

SOPHIE BACIC: I'm cool with that because I'm not out working all day. You know, I get my housekeeping every week.

ELLEN FANNING: So, when you say Frankie gives you the housekeeping every week how does that work?

SOPHIE BACIC: Oh, Frankie just gives me a certain amount of money.

ELLEN FANNING: So does he decide how much you get, or do you decide together?

SOPHIE BACIC: No, I didn't have a choice in that.

This is the one disagreement I have with the homemakers in this piece. Decide together. He needs to know what things cost, so he can make an honest determination of priorities. And if something does happen to him you need to know what the finances are about. This is not something you should do like our grandparents did. Look at the money together.

GERMAINE GREER: If you make somebody else responsible for you, then you've given up your life. You're not having a life.

How does being a housewife = someone else being responsible for you? Last I looked I was an adult, quite capable of making my own decisions. And accepting responsibility for them.

GERMAINE GREER: And the women would say, "Oh I don't know, you'd have to ask my husband," and I'd think, "Oh what do you have to do to get into these women," you know. What's two and two? "Oh I don't know, you'd have to ask my husband."

You have to hear her voice to hear what kind of a bullying, teasing asshole she sounds like. Seriously.

GERMAINE GREER: We want to think they'd never watched 'Desperate Housewives'. They're going to turn into that housewife who gets everything right and who is murderess in her heart. What you would probably say to somebody who has that rosy notion, that she can have the tickety-boo house, is that it's an illusion. It was never there.

ELLEN FANNING: But what if you're just doing what grandma did?

GERMAINE GREER: You don' really know what grandma did without asking grandma, and she might turn out to have some very bitter reflections.

Or she might have been quite happy. Or, like 99% of the world, she might have had good and bad times to remember. How the f*ck do you know it was all horrid? And why exactly can't you have the tickety-boo house? I do, and I work my ass off to keep it that way, thanks.

(For the record, I want to be Bree. Only.....saner, and less conservative)

GERMAINE GREER: I agree. When people say to me, "Nowadays young women have it all, what have you got to say to them?" And I say what I've got to say to them is, "They've got all the work, that's the only thing they've got all of."

ELLEN FANNING: Well some of these women say that's your fault.

GERMAINE GREER: No they don't.

Yes they do. This one does. You and Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and all of the rest of the second wave feminists who encouraged our mothers to give up their homes and marriages and families and do things your way. This mess is your collective fault.

ELLEN FANNING: They've tried it and they can't have it all, and they're cranky with you for saying they could.

GERMAINE GREER: But I never did. I never argued for a career. Never. What I wanted for women was a different thing, a life, and there are lots of different ways of having a life.

As long as your life isn't that of a housewife, is that what it is? So, you ought not to have a husband, or a home, or a career, than what are you to do? Sex worker? Is that the only thing liberated enough for you?

At this point they go on to interview a woman who runs her own company. They also speak to her husband. They seem fine and happy, and she's clearly quite thrilled with her life. I do notice they don't speak to the children though.

Then they go back to a housewife.

ELLEN FANNING: Sonia used to be an accountant, but now spends most of her day doing domestic chores for her family, and actually resents the years she spent at university and the thousands of hours in offices, climbing the corporate ladder, only to find it completely incompatible with motherhood. What about a young women saying, "Well, I don't want to give up my career, "he doesn't have to give up his career, "why should I have to give up mine?"

SONIA WILLIAMS: And that's where, that's where the crossroads is, isn't it? Is that like what happens to the children? And you've got two partners there who are competing with careers, but what about the children? Like, who's going to raise them? And that's the conundrum that the feminists haven't really covered, is that ultimately, whilst the women can have their career, someone has got to take care of the children.

Now look, I don't believe that women absolutely, positively have to stay home with their children. I've seen families where they father stays home, families where an aunt stays home, families where a grandparent stays home, families where they have hired help. I've seen large, poly families where one wife stays home. I've seen co-op style housing where one person in one apartment stays "home" and is paid by the others. In everyone one of them someone is home cooking the meals, doing the laundry. keeping track of the kids, and in general making sure everything runs smoothly.

I've also seen families where all the adults work, and it works and everyone is happy. ## But for every one of those I see 9 more where something is always falling apart. And it usually ends up being something with the kids.

GERMAINE GREER: Women are good at guilt. We're capable of feeling guilty no matter what. We weren't juggling, we'd be guilty that we weren't juggling. We are juggling, we're guilty that we are juggling. Everything that goes wrong is our fault and we've got a whole nation of psychotherapists who will tell people that everything that goes wrong with our children is our fault.

ELLEN FANNING: So you can't win?

GERMAINE GREER: No. You're a woman, take it as read.

Um, I don't feel guilty. The housewives in that piece certainly don't seem guilty. Methinks the lady doth project a bit.

ELLEN FANNING: But older feminists are going to be tearing their hair out listening to you.

SONIA WILLIAMS: Oh, if I could get a hold of the older feminists, let me tell you, what a crock. They set us up for a fall. How were we to know that we were going to have these careers and then have to sacrifice? Until you actually decide to become a mother you don't realize that huge sacrifice that you do make and that's where the dilemma comes in and that's what the feminists never told us.

Amen, sister!

GERMAINE GREER: She'll soon find out that housework is a crock, I'm telling you. You get to 50 what then? You're going to live another 40 years lady, what are you going to do with that?

Any damm thing I want to.


I may fisk the full interview with Germaine Greer. But right now my stomach hurts.


* Correction, I can only assume they were secular because a) no one brought up god every 5 seconds, b) there wasn't a ton of religious goop in their houses and c) most of them were wearing pants.

** For the record, just in case it's overlooked, I'm not against sexual liberation as in the gay rights movement. Nor am I against the freeing up of the morals around kink. But regardless of who you are or who you do or how you do it, if you think your desires are more important than your children's safety, I'm sorry, you're wrong. Find away to do it that doesn't endanger your children, or don't do it. With logical exceptions like spousal abuse, drug abuse, or other criminal acts, this may well include putting off re-marriage or even divorce until they hit college. Think toys.

And for those who say "It's the man's fault. He ought not to be going after the children" I say yes, you're right. And you're wrong, because parents are responsible for protecting their children, and bringing a stranger to spend the night in your home isn't a real great way to do that.

*** There is first wave, second wave, and third wave feminism. Learn this, it matters.


# Note to K & B, yea, I know, you two are the one out of the ten. This isn't about you. *g*