Work and A Certain Brand of Feminism

“I’m One of the 56% of American Mothers Who ‘Prefer’ To Stay Home”….I come across this piece by Darlena Cunha as I am feeling super crappy. My gut felt weird, and my bones ached.  I always feel a little off when I mess with my sleep schedule.  The last 8 or so hours that I worked I’d earn an hourly rate that was sort of an equivalent to a lunar eclipse for me.  I’d be earning just about double what I normally earned.  It was the perfect storm of me being greedy and employer desperation.  Of course when I agreed to work these hours, I only thought about the money..not how crappy I would feel after I worked.   Working the extra hours at a time when most normal people would be sleeping would mean I’d have some extra money for Christmas, or a family trip.

I’d been thinking about  doing some work related and then I read the piece by Ms .Cunha.  It isn’t obvious from her piece but Cunha both makes money as a mommy blogger and as a journalist.  She’d like to work outside the home, but for her the conditions just aren’t perfect.  She says “Who are feminists even fighting for? Me. They’re fighting for me”.  I can’t speak to what the feminist playbook is, but I wonder if she realizes that many moms work outside the home even when they don’t have perfect access to childcare, or the $70K Cunha states she need before she considered working outside of the home.

Cunha’s kids are seven years old.  Mine are teens.  I don’t have to navigate issues of who will care for my kids while I work.  On the other hand, for both my husband and I, the lifestyle we chose means one of us might miss a game, a parent teacher conference or musical performance.  I have worked in varying amounts ever since my first was born.  My husband and I have used some childcare.  Mostly though through the years we managed my working opposite hours.  Now the need to do this has dissipated now that our kids are older, but we still have to consider how the youngest will get here and there.

When I was working under the glare of fluorescent lights, and my husband and kids were asleep at home, I wonder does Cunha’s brand of feminism see me?  Does she see my coworker who has kids younger than Cunha’s who does the same sort of thing?

“For many women, staying home is their desire. But for many more, it’s a decision of convenience. Our society is structured in such a way that gives us the most rewards for living in the way it deems we should. Fifteen years ago, we found ourselves putting in huge amounts of effort to work outside the home, and we got very little reward in return. We learned that, yes, we can venture outside of this societal box of mother and homemaker, but our culture does not invite it, does not make it easy for us, and does not make it worth our very valuable time and effort.”

I can understand wanting to stay home out of convenience.  But does Cunha’s brand of feminism see that whether convenient or not, many women still must work.   What should our culture do to make it worth our very valuable time and effort?  What does that even mean.  I work to fund our retirement, to help with the oldest’s upcoming college expenses(eek!), and a million other things.

I wonder how Cunha thinks things should change.  Does she see the woman that wakes up in the early morning hours to go make donuts, work in a hospital laundry, staff an emergency room or stock grocery store shelves.  Where do they fall?  Where do people like my husband(and all the other fathers fall) in her expectations of how our culture should make work more inviting?

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