Monday, May 25, 2009

I am woman, hear me roar....or something.

Veronica has a stunningly funny post up. It isn't comically funny, it is funny because she takes on a feminist who takes herself too seriously, and yet somehow doesn't think that mothers who talk about motherly things should be taken seriously. Unless those mothers talk about Proust. And I commented on that post, but then realized that I had a lot to rant about on the subject. So, some of it is there, and some of it is here.

And then I realized that even more humorous was the fact that I have been composing a post in my head over the past week that is TOTALLY about my children, mostly how I wear them. Maybe I will do a 7 Quick Takes just about that. Because I have nothing else to talk about. So I must be uninteresting. And a traitor to feminism.

Beck had an interesting comment to Veronica's post. In part, she mockingly referenced the article, and said, "Being interesting means being ... full of academic interests and Man Style Achievements." And that, I think, is true for the author, much as she would protest. She rudely describes a dinner party in which she is "stuck" with the moms and at the other end of the table the men are engaged in a scintillating conversation: "This could in fact be a 19th-century novel where the men have retired to a different room to drink brandy and talk about news and politics." I think she has revealed herself. She wants to be with the men. Because THEY are having the interesting conversation. About things that THEY are involved in. Though today a "male" conversation seems to frequently center on sporting events rather than news and politics, but whatever.

The assumption that the "news and politics" is more important or objectively interesting and therefore those -- mothers -- who do not participate in those conversations are not, objectively, interesting, is irritating. Frankly, we all gravitate toward those whom we have something in common. If a woman is single, has no significant other, and is in a high powered career, she will have more in common with those in her same situation.

I worked on a presidential campaign for a while, years ago. In the middle of the seven day workweek and 12 hours days, I found a couple hours to go to dinner with some non-campaign friends. It was the strangest experience. They were talking about movies, and music, and boyfriends. I felt like I was underwater, hearing their voices in a muffled, distant way. I could not have POSSIBLY cared less about what they were saying. But I didn't assume that they were ignorant nobodies. I knew that I was a bit tunnel-visioned at the moment, and that it was better for me to just hang out with others who were as focused as I was. That time was going to pass, and I would shift into a different phase of life.

The same thing, I think, was true of those Victorian drawing room discussions. Women were as uninterested in the brandy and cigars as the news and politics. I don't know that they felt "banished" to the embroidery circle. They had important things in their lives to talk about with other women. And frankly, "feminists" who criticize mothers for talking about their children should perhaps be better served criticizing fathers who do not.

I talk about potty training, and breastfeeding, and babywearing, and discipline, and sleeplessness, etc, with my "mommy friends" because I want to tap into their knowledge base, and to feel not alone, and to be able to vent a bit. I don't tend to go where children aren't welcome because they ARE a part of me. They ARE my life right now. To pretend otherwise is a fantasy. My cousin got married and the invitation said, "adult only reception". And it was out of town. And my child (we only had one at the time) was still nursing. So we didn't go. No problem. It is a stage of life. And ONLY my childless, single friends even ASKED the question, "well, couldn't you just find a babysitter?"

So we don't go to dinner much. And we don't go to the movies much. Or to weddings. And it is a bit sad, but we have two precious ones who take up too much of our energy to really be upset by that.

But I was really happy to get a wedding invite from one of my husband's friends which said, explicitly, "children of all ages are welcome at the ceremony and reception." NICE!


Beck said...

Hey, I'm in this post! I like posts like that.

My husband talks about his kids, because he takes the work of raising children seriously and not as an interruption to his Real Life. This might strike people who either are childless or who do not take children seriously as dull, but those people are irrelevant to what our lives are about.

Recovering Sociopath said...


Actually, I was musing that one of the things I enjoy about our friendship is that we can hang out and our conversation can wind from recipes to babywearing to politics to theology while I chase my preschooler and you nurse your baby. With IRL friends like you (and virtual ones like Veronica) I don't feel I'm missing out on all that much, frankly.

Sure, I miss graduate school, where all I did was read books or talk about them or write about them. And drink. Shoot, even the drinking games at our parties had rules like "Last person to name a French novelist takes a shot!" But I don't miss the self-absorption and selfishness that pretty much ruled my life at that point.

...and I was also thinking that one of the reasons I value Nn. so highly is that, even though she is a high-powered PhD singleton with a career in academia, she loves and is genuinely interested in her friends' children. I think, as we discussed on Saturday, it has much to do with culture and upbringing. And imagination.

Off to write my own post now...

Julia said...

That was such a silly, silly article and so unrealistic about what women in the world are actually like and actually spend their lives doing. I find that the only feminism I can identify with is one that embraces women's roles as mother, wife, etc. This comes both from my faith and HELLO! from BIOLOGY. I think that so-called feminists who devalue domestic life and child-raising are hurting the status of women in our culture.

On the other hand, I will admit that I too sometimes cluck my tongue when I see Facebook profile pictures of other family members. This has less to do with any ideology on my part and more to do with my intense love for RULES and WHAT THINGS ARE MEANT FOR. :) My inner hall monitor wants to emphasize that those pictures are meant to represent yourself, but she's a bit of a prig so I probably shouldn't listen to her.

Raise Them Up said...

Lol! You've got some great points. I guess that's one of the things I enjoy about your blog. You tell it like it is. :) And for the record, I don't find you uninteresting, one bit.

I'm passing on a friendship award to you. So sometime you'll have to check it out. :) Have a great day!