There has been a number of interesting articles pop up on The Age recently which have resonated with me quite strongly. Without wanting to open a can of worms (because, hell, I could talk your ear off all the tangents that could come from these), I wanted to explore them superficially.

The first article, about femininity, was an great perspective on girliness and what it means. It’s no surprise to anybody that I am a strong feminist (and for anybody shirking their nose, a feminist is somebody who believes that men and women are equal – no more, no less) and will argue fervently with people about the gross inequalities that are still rampant in our society today; for example, it is an insult to men to call them a ‘girl’ or something otherwise feminine (a girl’s blouse, a vagina etc) – it implies weakness. How on earth is weakness synonymous with femininity? Why is it okay for girls to wear blue but not for boys to wear pink? Why is it okay for girls to play with trucks and wear shorts but not for boys to play with Barbies and wear skirts? Because still, in today’s society, masculinity is associated with strength and is something to be coveted, whilst femininity is associated with weakness and therefore not desirable. *exasperated snort* There are many articles out there on the web discussing these issues, so before I work myself into a tizz, I’ll move on, but not before hoping that I can instill feminism in my child, no matter what its gender. It’s been something that I’ve been vocal about for some time – if my son wants to wear pink sparkly tutus, then he will wear pink sparkly tutus, no matter what some people may think of that. However, the article made me realise that it should mean the SAME thing to me whether it’s my son or my daughter. Despite all my strong opinions on the subject of equality, I have to admit that I have avoided typically feminine things without realising, and that if my son wore pink I would be proud, but if my daughter did I would be slightly disappointed. I realised that by saying that I want my child to make its own decisions, that applies to their decisions whether they fit social norms or not. Whilst it is obviously a lot easier for a girl to choose pink (hello bastard of a marketing ploy),  to truly want equality for my child, I should not scorn my daughter for choosing feminine things and praise my son for the same. Feminine traits are not weak. To paraphrase the article, both boys and girls are capable of strength and weakness, intelligence and stupidity and any other complimentary or disparaging trait which we can think of. I only hope that I can celebrate all traits equally and instill equality in my child, no matter what their gender, sexuality, political views or life choices.

So, leading on from that, it’s not surprising that the thought of parenthood scares the shit out of me. The responsibilities! The alarming number of ways that we can fuck this up! Now, I know that nobody is a perfect parent. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody fucks their kids up in some way. That’s just life. But you know what? That doesn’t make it less scary. You still want to be the best parent you can be, make the ‘right’ choices and hope that you can give your child the best opportunities that it can have in life. And so you question the choices that you make (or think you’ll make) and wonder how to make decisions that will best benefit your family – not just your child, but you and your partner. Again, when I bring up this topic I feel like I’m opening a can of worms. Specifically, with relation to this article, I’m talking about the work choice. Again, as no surprise to anybody, I will be returning to work part-time as soon as paid maternity leave runs out. How will I cope with this? I cannot possibly predict how I will feel about work and motherhood until I’m there. At this point I am reasonably confident that I will want to return to work sooner rather than later – I do hope and think that I will enjoy motherhood, but I also feel that if I am not challenged intellectually that I will feel restless. However, the article brings up something that I know that I will battle – guilt. The article discusses the difference in guilt that men and women feel, and I do think that for us this will ring true – I am more likely to feel guilt at the choices that I make than Andrew will. Whilst it doesn’t help that my darling husband has ‘no strong feelings one way or the other’, I do think that generally speaking this is true of most couples. Why? Why is it that women feel that they are faced with the hard choices, but men don’t often feel that way? (Yes, this is a generalisation. There are always exceptions. Moving on….) Is it because that women are judged more harshly for their choices? In a thought that feels like I’m going down the inequality path again (maybe because I am), why is it that everybody has an opinion about the choices that women make, but rarely about the men? Why is it that stay-at-home mums are often scorned or at best assumed to be ‘doing their role’, but stay-at-home dads are always praised? Why is it that working mums are often scorned for leaving their children behind, but nobody bats an eyelid when men continue to work? Why is society obsessed with super-mums, women that can ‘have it all’ or ‘do it all’, but nobody ever discusses working dads? Why is it that I’m always told how lucky I am that Andrew does all the cooking, but nobody tells him how lucky he is that I do all the dishes? Is this why women (generally) feel more guilt about the choices that they make? Or is it something else?

In a related topic, something that I have been musing about for a few months is the breadwinner issue. Why is this an issue? I firmly believe that raising a child is just as than earning money to support the household. So why am I so uncomfortable with not contributing financially (as much) over the next few years? Sure, we could have chosen to have Andrew a stay-at-home dad, but the fact remains that he earns 50% more than I do, so financially it would not be a sensible decision. Is it the loss of independence? A belief that I feel I can contribute better by earning money? A burning desire to be contributing equally and as similarly as my husband? It wasn’t until today, when I was talking about how uncomfortable I will be having to feel like I have to ask for an allowance to buy things, that he looked at me and said, ‘But babe, by earning money this is the major way (but certainly not the only way) that I can contribute to raising our child and ensure that he or she has the best opportunities in life.’ (Yes, I paraphrased a little). I just looked at him and wanted to shag him right there in the middle of Swan Hill. I had spent so long thinking about how I would feel disempowered that I didn’t stop to think about how much HE wants to contribute equally to the care of our child, and we will be a team in this – he will contribute more money than I will, I will contribute more time than he will, but at every given opportunity I will to contribute some money and he will contribute some time. That’s what a team does – they work together. They don’t have to have identical roles. They only need to have complementing ones. Whilst that may be a ‘Well duh’ thing for everybody else, it was a major fucking epiphany for me and one that, as usual, has me in awe of my amazing husband.

So, if you’re still reading, you are certainly patient and you get a sneak peek of the first maternity item that I have bought – ordered it online and it should hopefully arrive within the next week or two…..suit me much??

And now, I will actually go and post about the shit you guys care about!

 

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