Stay-At-Home-Girlfriends and defending “feminism schmeminism”

24 Feb

I was going to ignore this because it’s kind of dumb, but enough people freaked the fuck out about it that, fine, let’s talk about it.

So there was this Brooklyn girl who put up a blog post about being a “Stay At Home Girlfriend,” which is something five women somewhere do nowadays. Gothamist picked this up, and I guess according to them this poster, Quiana Stokes, “was nearly burned at the cyber-stake” for posting some 50’s-style housewife tips like “clean the house” and “always be sexually available whether or not you feel like it.”

Then today, a girl from Illinois who is doing this “SAHG thing” wrote a response to this crucifixion:

Anyway, I guess my main point is that I feel like women these days have done themselves a bit of a disservice by being SO focused on being independent and liberated from the traditional roles we once held.  In my ideal world I would be totally happy as a stay at home wife and mom for a few years. I would actually consider that a luxury. But I feel like that’s some sort of shameful thing in our society now.

I don’t really feel the need to name names from my Google Reader of people who tore the shit out of Stokes for her post. And yet, obviously the correct response to all this is, who the fuck cares how this girl finds fulfillment for herself? She’s happy, we’re happy.

What struck me more was the response of the indignant Illinois girlfriend, and it highlights to me one of the aspects of feminism that can be very frustrating: feeling alienated if you don’t exactly agree or your life doesn’t fit the stereotype idea of a liberated woman.

I think what she is getting at — and I’m going out on a limb here, so call me out if you disagree — is the fact that the often-present anger and resentment in the feminist movement can at times feel alienating rather than unifying. Most of the feminist blogs I read all (ALL) day long focus on calling bullshit on injustice, fighting against anti-woman political initiatives and identifying subtle and not-so-subtle forms of discrimination in the media. All of that is incredibly important, and many of these blogs also celebrate the victories and the positive side of feminists’ hard work, but it more often than not carries with it a tone of negativity and defensiveness and self-righteousness. That relentlessly negative tone is in part why I created this blog, to have a laugh sometimes instead (although, in fairness, my posts are also usually self-righteous).

In short, the feminist movement often carries a language of “you don’t get me, only these other feminist women get me” and fosters a sense of victimization if you read those things day in and day out like I do. THE PATRIARCHY WANTS TO KILL ME. And in turn, that generates a knee-jerk reaction toward people who aren’t part of that intimate circle of understanding. That reaction is often judgmental.

A liberated woman is just the woman who has a fighting chance to weigh all the options she possibly can and makes a decision for herself based on what she feels is best and where her heart takes her. That’s all it is.

I’ll try to guess that that’s what this Illinois girlfriend is hurting from. She’s not doing anything wrong; she’s trying to be a good partner to her boyfriend and make the best of a situation during hard economic times, and she feels judged. I’d feel the same.

[Gothamist]

[the stay at home girlfriend]

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