Big Question: Do Women Respect One Another’s Choices?

Big Question: Do Women Respect One Another’s Choices?

 

In her article, “When Mom and Dad Share it All,” Belkin explains that inequality persists inside the home as women still shoulder the bulk of domestic responsibilities (4). This topic triggered my thinking about the way that jobs were divided between my parents. While the housework was shared between the two, my mother (who is a working professional) was the main childcare provider.  I don’t think that she is unique since it seems that division of childcare has been the most resistant to change. It is unclear whether this responsibility continues to fall primarily on women by choice, default, or familiarity. Do women feel compelled to exercise control in this domestic sphere because the role of nurturer is so closely tied to their gender identity or biological makeup?  A recent study at University of Virginia suggests that women may end up with more of the parenting burden because they “like it more” than men and their “parenting skills are deeply rooted in biology” (infant.http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/do-women-like-child-care-more-than-men/).

 

A guiding principle of the Women’s Movement is empowering women to make choices, and for some, this includes choosing not to change certain aspects of the status quo (such as childcare).  Bell Hooks asserts that solidarity between women is essential in transforming society as a whole (127). Can those who challenge the patriarchal system resist the tendency to criticize women who choose a traditional path or opt to embrace change in its modified form ? Do the differences (in cultural, racial, economics, and geographic backgrounds) which impact women’s choices pose a threat to solidarity, or is the failure to accommodate and accept these differences responsible for sidelining childcare and stalling out the Women’s Movement ? When we silence (and do not respect) voices that are different from our own, are we modeling equality or another form of social oppression?

 

Works Cited

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” The New York Times 15 June 2008: 1-15. Print.

Hooks, Bell. “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity between Women.” Feminist Review (1986): 125-38. Print.

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Do Women Like Child Care More Than Men?” The New York Times Magazine 25 Mar. 2012: n. pag. Web.

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One thought on “Big Question: Do Women Respect One Another’s Choices?

  1. mwattenbarger

    This is a really compelling question and one I grapple with a lot. I believe it’s crucial to respect other women’s choices and their own autonomy; to put it simplistically, that’s the crux of what bell hooks argues in “Sisterhood.” At the same time, though, sometimes those choices seem like they’re perpetuating a systemic problem. Ultimately, I think, we shouldn’t ever police other women’s choices, but we should be willing to take responsibility for the implications of our own choices. That puts me in a tough place: I think it’s important, for instance, to deconstruct and combat the norm of women staying at home and caring for children. At the same time, I may one day find myself wanting to quit my job, stay home and raise children. Do I have an ethical responsibility to other women to not do that, in order to show solidarity for a greater cause? Or do I have a responsibility to do whatever I please, in order to show that I believe women should be able to choose between a variety of life paths, regardless of their relationship to traditional norms?

    Reply

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