The Hypocritical Feminist?

The Hypocritical Feminist?

I have always considered myself a ‘Feminist’ but then what woman hasn’t? What woman hasn’t wanted equality, to smash the glass ceiling or to be looked in the eyes not the chest? What woman hasn’t wanted the respect afforded to her male counter part or the salary to match?

I was never brought up by my sex, my grandparents always instilled in me the belief I could do anything if I worked for it. Being female and any inequality that may bring with it was never on my radar. The glass ceiling was never discussed, it didn’t exist. It was always – if you want it and if you work hard for it you will get it. I am grateful for this and this is how I will raise my daughter, and son.

That being said I have a tinge of disappointment writing this as I am not sure it is wholly true. You see I do believe, for a lot of us woman there is a glass ceiling in the workplace, especially if god forbid you should have children. I am not saying this is a carte blanche rule but for my part I have certainly experienced it. It is part of the reason I have not returned to work since having my children. It is also part of the reason I do not believe the career I left behind will be there for me when I return to work.
Had I gone back to work I am certain that I would have watched the careers of my full time peers who were my equals when I commenced my maternity leave grow and surpass mine as I work my part time week, or flexi hours around my children or have to stay home to nurse a sick toddler.

Admittedly this is conjecture, I have not returned to work and this is my point. Whilst I harbour these beliefs about woman’s rights and our equality I find myself in quite an ironic situation. A situation that was rather unnecessarily pointed out to me during an increasingly heated conversation about my so say ‘ wannabe feminist’ view point. I am a stay at home mum (a label I am yet to come to terms with – in fact I think this is the first time I have ‘labelled’ myself in such a way), I spend my days keeping my one/two year old combo alive, cleaning – yes Mr Tammy not a great deal of it but I do clean, washing and cooking whilst Mr Tammy goes to work to provide for us. I just need to bob off my blonde hair and you can call me Betty circa Mad Men, although I talk to my kids a little more and spend considerably less time in my kitchen smoking – mores the pity. Don’t get me wrong I would love to be able to financially provide for both myself and my family but the reality is Mr Tammy is the bread winner and if one of us was going to be the ‘free’ childcare it was always going to be me (FYI I love it more than that descriptions allows for). Before you all lynch me saying I could work and raise my children – I KNOW I could but there were many factors at play as to why I haven’t returned to work, which I painstakingly wrote in this post. Mostly however it was the right decision for the entire family at the time. So, was this person right – am I really helping to undue the work done to break down barriers, change the fate and stereotype of woman for our daughters and sons, when on paper I am in fact a  stereotypical 1950s housewife that woman have fought to overturn?

betty mad men smoking

It is not just the workforce where I am apparently letting the side down, I like wearing make up, doing my hair, wearing heels and I like to talk about these things with my mates. I like to glare over what Kerry Washington is wearing on the red carpet and I like to take fashion advice from Glamour magazine. I like to feel attractive and as though people see me that way. I have cried at work. I am guilty of lusting after Beck’s in his sarong and my favourite part of a football game is when they swop shirts at the end. If I want an equal world where woman are not objectified and are taken as seriously as my brother then perhaps I should look closer to home?

Perhaps I should, yet does any of the above really make me a hypocritical feminist? Yes I like to spend time in front of a mirror and I like people to notice but I also want people to see past that, to have a conversation with me and come away realising I can hold my own. To understand that I didn’t get a first class law degree by looking at Kerry in Prada. To know that whilst my role is now that of a SAHM I am doing all I can in the time I have to earn myself, albeit a little, financial independence and carve out a potential future income.

woman putti lipstick on

I celebrate woman who have achieved great things and set fabulous examples so much so I felt need to write about them in a previous post. I deplore regimes that oppress woman, cultures that that maintain woman should be seen and not heard, that keep woman indoors unless the are accompanied by a man. I despise the fact woman who speak up against rape can become vilified, or that we can be sold and traded as chattel and possessions. It makes my blood boil that a woman who openly enjoys sex or shows some leg or god forbid leg and cleavage is termed a ‘slut’ or ‘slag’ but a man who flaunts his sex life is seemingly celebrated and coined with somewhat more positive terms such as ‘stud’ or ‘lathario’. I could go on, and on, and on.

To my mind a feminist comes in many forms. A feminist doesn’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way, hold a certain office. Men and woman are different and our differences can be celebrated and embraced but is it too much to ask that we should also be equals? That we should be offered the same opportunity as one another? Surely our world is progressive enough that we can be different but expect  the same treatment without being cast aside as wanting the best of both worlds or a hypocrite?

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

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41 Comments

  1. November 2, 2016 / 4:43 am

    You’re not alone in how you feel. I am a feminist, and proud but that does not mean that some of my core values – all of the ones and the dilemmas you mention, haven’t rattled my core every now and then. More so now that like you, I haven’t completely accepted my SAHM identity. I was a professor and loved almost every aspect of my job AND was one year away from getting tenure (or job permanency) and yet, I quit in a heartbeat when my husband got a job across the country.

    I have had many a days of frustration and sheer anger at my own choices and in exercising my own agency. I have angered myself for buying into the “just a housewife” rhetoric and I have self-shamed myself for not having come up with glib replies to people who have tried to stereotype me.

    I love being with my kids, even with its own share of frustrating moments but in moments and days of basking in the pleasure of my kids and the assuring normalcy of home life, I have wondered if I am embarrassing my feminist self for having started to slowly accept the status quo of my neo-traditional husband-wife dynamic.

    It is all part of our own growing process. Hang in there. There is so much research out there about how beneficial the first three years of a child’s life spent with a parent really is that it validates my sacrifices somehow. If my “giving up” 3-5 years of my own life to help nurture the lives of my children till they are old enough for full-day school, isn’t that better in the long term? I may get a job tomorrow and that will be okay too.

    Being a SAHM is also a choice albeit the choice of the privileged few who can actually exercise that choice. At least for that, feminists should be proud. It is yet another woman exercising her right to choose – the choice of being a SAHM.
    All the best to you.

  2. November 2, 2016 / 6:46 am

    Excellent read. I don;t think that we should get hung up on feminism being about the workplace and careers. It is so much more that that but sadly the workplace always becomes the focus. It is about equality and respect across life in general. A respect for choosing to be a stay at home mum or a respect to work and juggle childcare. Respect in general. But respect goes both ways so respect for men working hard too – I hear too many stay at home mums criticising their husbands and that’s just ugly when they are working to earn money to keep the family. Great article which i’m certain will invite lots of views! #familyfun

  3. November 2, 2016 / 8:16 am

    We are feminists becauase it was our choice to walk away from our career. At the end of the day the traditional definition of feminism is out of date and like you say feminism means so much more than that, it comes in different guises. We can be a feminist and be a stay-at-home mum, we are also raising the future generation of feminists! I think feminism today is about choice #FamilyFun

    • November 3, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Just seen you’re the post ahead of me on #CoolMumClub but I read this yesterday. Still think it’s a great post though :)

  4. November 2, 2016 / 8:43 am

    Brilliant post and, as the other comments also say, being a SAHM does not mean you are not a feminist. It means you have been able to make a decision for yourself. Of course you’re right to say there are challenges in the workplace which make going back part-time (as a man or a woman, but typically more women). I have gone back to work on reduced hours and I am now watching my counterparts progress ahead of me. I am pleased for them – in many respects they are now 13 months ahead of me because I was out of the business for that long on Mat Leave. But what I don’t see is how I will now ever catch them up because the role above does not accommodate the flexibility I need when caring for a young child who needs me to stay with her when she gets ill.

    It’s great that you are being true to who you are. I think that is the most important message to give to your children. If they see their mum trying to conform to a certain image then they will become so self-conscious. But if you are happy in your skin and with the life you have chosen to give your family the best then they will grow up with the same feeling of freedom you had!

    I could talk about this topic forever so I’m going to stop! Thanks for sharing your thoughts x #FamilyFun

    • November 3, 2016 / 11:42 am

      Just seen you’re the post ahead of me on #CoolMumClub but I read this yesterday. Still think it’s a great post though :)

  5. November 2, 2016 / 10:33 am

    Love this post. To me feminism is all about giving women choices – the choice to have a career or to be a stay at home mum. I also believe that dads should also be able to freely make that choice too – if the mum wants to pursue her career and the dad wants to stay at home with the children that should be an equally acceptable choice. What makes me sad is that for many families there is no real choice on this – there are parents who want to be able to stay at home with their children but can’t afford not to work and there are parents who want to work but find childcare costs too prohibitive. It’s also sad that there’s so much guilt attached to whatever choice you make. When I first became a stay-at-home mum I found myself making excuses for why I didn’t go back to work when the real reason was that I stayed home because I wanted to. I’m now lucky enough to be able to work from home and have the best of both worlds. #familyfun

  6. November 2, 2016 / 10:40 am

    I’ve just written a post for Emma about feminism and I feel sad that you’d even think you might be a hypocrite or not a feminist because of any of the reasons you’ve said. I really believe feminism is as simple as believing that women should be as free as men. So it really doesn’t matter if that woman chooses to stay home, chooses to work, chooses to wear make up or read celeb gossip or whatever else. The point is that she should be free to make those choices. You’re not a hypocrite at all! Unfortunately our society still has a way to go, especially in the workplace. #FamilyFun

    • tammymum
      November 2, 2016 / 10:47 am

      It’s not that I thought I was a hypocrite it’s what someone was trying to suggest to me – that I was for the way I live my life. I have tried to get across that to me it is not about that but about being equals and the fact I am SAHM or anything else should have nothing to do with it. Ikr you say society still has somewhat to go eh xx

  7. November 2, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    You sum it up perfectly at the end hun “To my mind a feminist comes in many forms. A feminist doesn’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way, hold a certain office.” I couldn’t agree more and this was a really good read. I think it is about us all being able to do what we want, what suits us, without judgment from anyone. What suits one may not suit another. #FamilyFun

    • November 3, 2016 / 5:37 pm

      Popping back to say Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  8. November 2, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    Ooooh I love, love LOVE this post! I’m a SAHM too and I sometimes worry that I’m playing the part of a stereotypically helpless woman who is only good for cooking and cleaning and needs a man to provide for her. But the point is, it’s my CHOICE to be a SAHM. I love doing it. I have a degree and could work if I wanted to but that’s not what I want right now. I don’t think feminism should mean we all have to have high-powered jobs. It means we should be able to do what we want. We should have CHOICES and be respected for the choices that we make. I don’t want to be a man – I want to be a woman. And part of my character is to have the maternal instinct and to want to be at home to look after my children. I’m definitely sharing this. #FamilyFun

  9. November 2, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    You are so right that there is no one RIGHT way to be a feminist. You can love feminine things and still expect women to be treated equally and with respect. I also agree that there IS a glass ceiling in the workplace. I’m still working (part-time and flexibly), and I’ve paid a promotion/salary price for my flexible arrangements. Even though I’m in a relatively enlightened workplace. #familyfun

  10. November 2, 2016 / 4:21 pm

    I have no problem saying women and men are different… we are better for a start 😉 I think you can go overboard with feminism and forget what you’re actually trying to achieve. Equality is the bottom line, so as long as you’re standing up for yourself and others that’s all that matters. #FamilyFun

  11. November 2, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    This is such a tricky subject isn’t it? I talk about this a lot with friends and we all have similar predicaments. I’m on mat leave, going back to a part time job next year and it’s s hard juggle. I feel I’ve had to change my career to work around the kids, and if I went back to doing what I did before I’d either miss out on the little ones, or struggle with my career, or both!
    I think having the freedom to make choices and have a voice is what women all those years ago campaigned for.
    Thanks for sharing and provoking such thought!
    #familyfun
    Kimberly x

  12. November 2, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    I have a Am I a Feminist? post sat in my drafts waiting to be polished up. You make a good key point that we should celebrate our differences but offer equal opportunities too as I think men are often penalised too. If a man earns less than his partner and wants to stay at home he can often be subjected to hurtful scarcasm, bullying tactics by bosses and definite career doom threats from work as well as a room full of women that raise eyebrows in baby class and exclude dads from conversations about labour and breastfeeding. In fact I think we see this inequality in our own world of parent blogging too and don’t even get me started on parental rights… I don’t think I am a feminist. I think I just want equality for all… I continue to ponder. #familyfun

  13. November 2, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    I don’t think that being a SAHM means you’re not/can’t be a feminist. If you thought you HAD to be a SAHM because you’re a married woman with kids then I would definitely question your feminist beliefs, but as long as you know that you have a choice and CAN do something else if you want then I think you’re on the right track for feminism!

  14. November 2, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    I don’t think a feminist is just one thing – if you’re a woman and you believe that women should have equal rights to men, then you’re a feminist. All the rest of it – staying home or not, wearing makeup or not, liking fashion or not – has nothing to do with it. I agree that we still have a long way to go as a society towards recognising the benefits of flexible working – more family-friendly work arrangements means more women in the workplace – and surely that’s a good thing for the economy. #FamilyFun

  15. November 2, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    I really enjoyed that, and reading the comments. I think feminism is about choice. I don’t think we’ve quite got the balance right as far as parenting goes – but I don’t think that’s our fault.

    Really lots of women have little choice – once you’ve chosen to have children in 95% of cases the organising of them is down to the mother. No one looks down their noses at dads who work full time – but also no one expects the dad to pick up the slack either. One argument is to make childcare cheaper – which then would truly give more choice to parents -but then I don’t know if I really think that is a solution either.

    Wow that was waffly!!

    #FamilyFun

  16. November 2, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Brilliant post Sarah. I’ve never really thought about feminism before. I am just quite happy plodding along in my own world! Sorry if this is a rubbish comment! :/ #familyfun

  17. November 2, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    A feminist comes in so many forms, I think some cling to an old fashioned idea of what is a ‘true feminist’, but in my opinion it’s about having the freedom and willpower to choose what is right for you and yours, not letting anyone dictate what you should and shouldn’t be! Today we have the freedom to choose how we want to be as women and what we want to do, the fight has been faught by the past generations and for that I’m thankful. I’m still on maternity leave, but I wish I had the option of being a stay at home mum, it’s time spent with your kids, so many memories made! xx

  18. November 3, 2016 / 8:23 am

    I don’t see feminism and being a stay at home mum as being contradictory. Feminism is about equality and having choice. I felt fortunate enough to be able to choose to be a SAHM but I am also grateful that I can also work, as I do now, rather than being confined to a life of home care. I do think we have a long way to go. Working people, men and women alike would be first on the redundancy list if they spent more time with their children and I do agree there is a glass ceiling and a big difficulty for women getting back to work once they have stopped to have children. This was a great and thought provoking post. Thank you for writing it. #coolmumclub

  19. November 3, 2016 / 11:06 am

    Great post. For me it’s about choice. You should be free to choose whether you want to be a working or a stay at home mum, wear makeup or not etc etc. It should be your choice and not forced upon you by expectations of society. I’m not sure feminist is the right word. Equality without judgement should be what we’re striving to achieve … and sadly, we’re not there yet.
    #FamilyFun

  20. November 3, 2016 / 11:55 am

    This is such an interesting post and something I’ve touched on previously in my blog (hence my blog name for starters!!)…the other commenters mostly echo my thoughts, there’s little left to say! Suchitra particularly sums up what i think. I do also think it’s limiting to consider poeple as only what they are on paper – life is so nuanced, it makes me so cross that stereotypes are given such precedence in our society. While the workplace is an important element of life, it is not the only element. You stick on your heels, enjoy/survive (!) being at home with your little ones and stay shouting loudly about equality. Equality isn’t equality if you get criticised for doing that…who are you oppressing? Nobody. Love this Sarah x #ablogginggoodtime

  21. November 3, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    I’ve never classed myself as a feminist as I think labels just pigeonhole people and the term means too many different things to different people, I just believe in equality for all and as long as your decisions don’t adversely affect anyone else you should have the freedom to choose to live however works best for your family and your circumstances. Im a SAHM because we decided before we even married that if we had children one of us would stay at home (as long as financially viable), it just so happened that hubby had the better job so it made more sense for me to be the one to stay at home.
    #FamilyFun

  22. November 3, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    Great post!. I don’t think being a stay at home mum or even choosing to be a housewife should make you any less of a feminist if you’re doing it through choice. It would be different if you were doing it because you thought that’s what women should do though. Likewise wearing make up and wanting to look attractive – if it makes you feel better, why not?

    I agree that women who have children and want to further their career have it so hard, particularly if they are working part time. And I’m sure that when it comes to promotions and job interviews, the fact that we have children (or are of an age when we might start a family) is taken into consideration by managers and potential employers, although they would never admit it. It’s really unfair, but unfortunately I can’t see that changing for a while. #familyfun

  23. November 3, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    Very much so. Everyone is different. You don’t have to be a certain type of person to be a feminist any more than you have to look a certain way to be a lesbian or a geek or a a religious follower. Everyone is unique but it’s enough to expect respect. I am a feminist, self employed but rely heavily financially on my partner who works full time. It’s not because I’m the mum that I am at home rather than him, he just earns more so it made sense. You can’t judge people on circumstance until you have walked in their shoes x

  24. November 3, 2016 / 8:07 pm

    I don;t know how someone could think that SAHM can’t be feminist. It’s also depends how we understand this word. We shouldn’t label people if we know nothing about them
    #FamilyFun

  25. November 3, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    I battle daily between feeling like a 1950’s housewife and the luckiest person alive! Either way, I love being in the driver’s seat of my life and I’m winning like Lewis Hamilton (most of the time….some days I’m in the pit having duff wheels removed)…
    xx Thanks for linking up with #coolmumclub

  26. November 3, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    Such a huge subject and one that I could go off on for hours. So I will just add that I am a feminist and also a sahm. I too battled with that label, after having a successful career working in New York. I think it’s sad that so many of us at home, are feeling like it is not enough or boring or we feel ashamed. Such bullshit! We need to empower ourselves, we need cool sahm role models, we need more support, we need more knowledge and discussion about child development – we need to question society. Well if you ever want to do all that – let me know! THanks for writing Xxx #coolmumclub

  27. November 3, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    This is a really strong and thought-provoking post. I agree with you that ‘a feminist comes in many forms’ and can be either gender too. Your example about make-up for instance – a feminist doesn’t have to be anti-makeup etc…. surely it’s just the reasons for the make-up that’s important…. the choice to wear make-up shouldn’t be about someone else’s opinion, but just our choice, no one should feel pressured…. hope that makes sense! #familyfun

  28. November 3, 2016 / 11:37 pm

    You’re definitely not a hypocrite, I like to do all of those things, it just means we know what we like!

    #ABloggingGoodTime

  29. November 4, 2016 / 2:56 am

    Such a good post. I wouldn’t say I am a feminist, nor would I say I’m not a feminist… Honestly I haven’t ever really thought about it. My belief has always been equality for all. I don’t think being male or female should determine what we can or cannot achieve in our lives. We are living in the 21st century now with a female Prime Minister, and possibly a soon to be female President of the USA so this is proof enough that women can achieve as equally as men.
    This being said, there are still some stigmas and stereotypes that exist and SAHM’s sometimes get a bad rep. I’m a SAHM and I love it. It was a struggle for me to leave behind a career I had worked so hard for, especially when I was the main earner, but the work/life balance wouldn’t have worked for my family and I wanted to be able to spend as much time with my daughter as possible.
    I am a proud SAHM but I still struggle telling people that for some reason, and I always feel the need to inform people that the OH works to provide for us. Why, I don’t know.
    I do love going to get my hair and nails done, and talking about make up and celeb gossip with friends but that doesn’t mean I am any less able. We all just need to be proud of ourselves I think, and know that we are enough. Especially when as a SAHM we have the best and most important job in the world. x
    #familyfun

  30. November 4, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    It is a fact that as our lives change with the addition of more children families need to adjust and compromises and sacrifices need to be made. There are more of us mums than dads that walked away from a career and whilst being at home may not be a career it is a full-time job for sure with as many challenges and rewards as those presented in a corporate world. #ablogginggoodtime

  31. November 4, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    In many ways it is woman that is in control. We are the ones who have babies and run houses, but sadly we are still stuck with man being hunter gatherers particularly if we don’t have supporting family. #FamilyFun

  32. November 5, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    I really don’t think you are a hypocrite at all. For me feminism is about choice. Is about being able to choose what is right for you and your life. You did just that. It is indeed very sad that people still have such narrow minds and the need to put everyone in a labelled box. Thinks are not always black and white x #familyfun

  33. November 6, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Excellent post. I feel like you and me a very similar. I am also stay at home mum and I’m slowly coming to terms I suppose with accepting this label. I have always been ambitious and done well at work and at university etc. But nothing can prepare you for the feelings you have when you have a child. I give myself a hard time about my choice but at the end of the day as someone else has commented it is a choice in some cases of the privileged few. Like someone else has commented if being at home for 3 to 5 years will help my children and I am in a position to be able to do it then for me the sacrifice is worth it. It doesn’t make me any less of a feminist or a less ambitious or less of an achiever it just means this is a different period of my life. fantastic article ready loved it xx #familyfun

  34. November 7, 2016 / 9:11 am

    What a deep post for a Monday! I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist but um all for women having their rights and being just as entitled to do things as men. I work in a predominantly male industry and have never let that stand in my way! Thanks for sharing for #marvmondays

  35. November 7, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    I think you’re right, it’s a tough one, but most 2 parent families have a make breadwinner. Even if both parents thought dad should look after the kids with more responsibility, it’s often unaffordable and has social pressures are against it. This doesn’t mean feminist working dads or SAHMs hypocritical, it means they’re having to manage with what’s best for the family in a patriarchal society
    Great post
    #MarvMondays

  36. November 13, 2016 / 9:12 am

    I didn’t return to my job after having children for the same reasons – instead I’m making it work from home. I’d like to think if and when I do go back my career won’t have suffered though… #marvmondays