Why Stay At Home Mums Can Still Be Feminists

February 2018 marks 100 years since (some) women gained the right to vote. It’s a day we should all remember the debt of gratitude we owe those strong women who battled for the rights we have today.

I have always been passionate about equal rights for women, but since having a daughter of my own that feeling has intensified.

I want my daughter to live the best life possible. I don’t want her to be bound by constraints. I want her to achieve equal pay and to feel confident and safe working in a male dominated environment (if that is the career she choses). I want her to have the courage to speak up both for herself and for others. I want her to brave and tenacious and bold.

Most importantly I want her to have the confidence to lead the life she choses.

I wrote a post about the importance of positive female influences in films, and it led me to reflect on my own role as a mother.

What is a feminist?

I do not fit the typical feminist mould at all.

I don’t have a career – up until recently I only worked one day a week and so pretty much considered myself a stay at home mum. I have a little part time job which I don’t particularly enjoy but it brings in a bit of extra money.

I married young – at 22 to be exact. I had my first baby at 23. Shouldn’t I have been out forging a career for myself, or travelling the world rather than settling down?

Perhaps, but that was never the life I wanted. My family and friends I’ve had since childhood will attest to the fact I always wanted to be a mum. At primary school when we did the topic about what you want to be when you grow up, I unashamedly stated “a mum”.  I never really wanted to be a high flying career woman. I wanted to love and nurture.

I didn’t particularly anticipate getting married as young as I did, but I found the man I wanted to marry whilst I was in my teens and there seemed no point hanging about!

Isn’t being a feminist about breaking away from the traditional conventional life of settling down and having children? And if so, how can I possibly be a good role model to my daughter?

The freedom to choose

In our rush to strip away the gender stereotypes of women being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, I worry we have started to view women who choose to stay at home with their children as somehow inferior to those who have a successful career.

Why can’t we celebrate both?

Surely the whole idea of feminism is the freedom for a woman to live the life SHE chooses, not society.  We shouldn’t have to be ashamed for our choices, whatever they may be.

Being a mum was my calling. I wanted to love and be loved, and to nurture and protect. I wanted comfort and security and a house full of warmth and laughter. Despite the challenges of having three young children, I feel fulfilled. I don’t regret my decisions. I take great pride in the teaching and nurturing of my children.

However, this was MY choice. Other women may be appalled at the idea! They may want to travel, or have a successful career or do both of these things AND be a mum at the same time. Which is great! To me that it what is important here. The freedom to choose the life YOU want to lead.

I won’t be put in a box

It’s almost as if society is trying to pigeon hole us, or put us into nice little boxes. Career women, feminists, stay at home mums…which box do you fit into?

I remember being as young as 13 and reading a magazine with “which character are you” style quizzes. In my youth my books were filled with strong female characters. I remembered reading Little Women and being so sure I was a Jo. She was smart, she was a writer, she was strong and bold.

As I got older I realised deep down I was more like Meg than I cared to admit.

“…in my heart I knew I should be satisfied, if I had a little home, and John, and some dear children like these.”

It begs the question….why can’t I be both? Why do I need to be pigeon holed? Can I not be a strong woman with a brain, and be happy to stay at home with my children?

Can’t I be Jo and Meg? Can’t I be Charlotte and Miranda?

Being A Role Model

I do have moments of self doubt – will my daughter be disappointed in me when she’s older? Will she wish she had a mum with a bit more ambition? But then I think as long as we as parents continue nurturing that belief that women can be whoever they want to be, she’ll be just fine.

And surely that’s what it all comes down to – sisterhood. Supporting each other’s decisions. We need to stop competing or comparing ourselves with other women. Society needs to stop pitching us against each other.

When I see the Women’s Marches that took place recently, of women banding together to support each other’s rights, it’s clear to see we’re heading in the right direction. I hope the Pankhursts would have been proud.

 


 

One Messy Mama

38 comments

  1. You are raising a powerful girl. I am certain that she will make you proud and having you as role model to follow the steps is important.

  2. I love the idea of being able to be a strong woman role model and stay at home with the kids. In fact, staying home and teaching your kids, is a great way to create strong women and men!

  3. I love the way you think. Your daughter can’t help but be proud of the great example you are setting. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Being a stay at home mum is just as rewarding and empowering as being a career mum. We are all doing what is best for our situation and respect each other in doing so. That is feminism!

  5. I absolutely love this as a fellow stay at home mum, although not by choice and rather childcare costs. In my marriage it could just have easily been my husband who stayed at home and it wasn’t due to our career choices. His career has the scope for higher earnings and in fact he already earn’t more than I ever could when I had to leave my career. That had nothing to do with gender but rather our fields of expertise. Staying at home definitely doesn’t make you any less of a feminist.

  6. I completely agree. For me, one of the core messages of feminism is about the right to make choices, be respected and valued. How you work those things out is up to you. But a woman who works isn’t necessarily a bigger feminist than one who’s at home bringing up children. And both their contributions to society are equally valuable.

  7. I feel exactly the same way as you. The birth of my daughter sparked my passion for feminism. Feminism is so misunderstood in that people still think that feminists are bra-burning men haters who don’t wear makeup. You’re so right that feminism gives all people the freedom of choice. Choice to work or not, choice to wear makeup or not as well as the choice to have kids or not. I could go on for days! I’m so glad to have found another like minded mother and blogger

  8. I think the most important thing is to have a choice and feel content and happy with that choice. Being a stay at home mum is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs there is!

  9. I couldn’t agree more with not wanting to be pigeon-holed. I never thought of myself as a feminist but I guess some might say I was. Career focused after uni, getting married and having children late in my 30’s after establishing it. All I wanted during that time was equal pay. Now I don’t work and am essentially a home maker but not really by choice. Given a choice I’d be back in the work force. Does that make me a feminist?

  10. So right not to be put in a box or labelled because of the life choices. Our inner feelings and values are what count:)
    Mainy
    #blogstravaganza

  11. For me, Feminism is about choosing the life you want to lead. Of course, as a stay at home mum, you can be a feminist. Pen x #thesatsesh

  12. I loved this post so much and yes stay at home mums can still be feminists. I think it’s amazing that you wanted to be a mum, even from a young age and it’s not about what you are that makes you a feminist, it’s about what you believe. I think that your daughter is going to grow up feeling so proud that your mission in life was to nurture her and its amazing that she’s growing up with such a lovely role model.

  13. Totally agree! I’m on the other side of the spectrum, I’m a “career woman” – whatever that means 😀 – and very much attached to the idea of working and NOT being a SAH mom. However, I advocate for people having the CHOICE. That’s what feminism is all about. Fighting for equality and freedom of choice.
    Keep up the good fight

  14. This is a great post, that I resonate wholeheartedly with. I think shaming a woman who chooses to be a stay at home mum is ridiculous. You’re right to convey this message to your daughters and lead by example too. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I know exactly where you are coming from in this post, having had a daughter also at 23 and working part time I’ve had the same concerns, but ultimately my now 14 nearly 15 year old is so strong in her convictions and her ambition to break the glass ceiling it makes me so incredibly proud of her tenacity. So don’t worry, you are already am amazingly strong and positive role model to your girl. Xx

  16. I think choice is key. If our daughters choose to stay at home, there’s nothing wrong with that. The only concern for me is the rights of women who support their men who go on to thrive at work and earn good wages, without developing careers of their own. But if the couple split up, although the woman is entitled to 50% of everything (generally) – it is the man who goes on earning good money for himself and the woman has to start from the bottom. As a stay at home mum, I felt it important to point out this to my daughter. No shame either way. But make a choice after understanding the possible consequences. x

  17. I think being a feminist just means believing that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. If you believe that (and I think most women do) – congratulations, you’re a feminist! Your career and lifestyle choices don’t really have anything to do with it. I think it’s great if mums choose to stay at home – as long as it’s their choice and they haven’t been forced to for financial reasons. #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. I don’t think it’s about the path that you take. It’s about the choices you have and it’s about not feeling trapped into a certain way of life. I certainly don’t look at sahms as not being feminist. Your daughter will be very proud of you i’m sure. We need diversity when it comes to what women choose to do. It could be argued that some so-called career women aren’t feminists if they don’t support other women in their choices. #thesatsesh xx

  19. I agree with you! I think you can be a stay at home mom and a feminist! You don’t have to “lean in”, bust the glass ceiling, or have a high flying corporate career to “earn” your feminist creds. The whole point of the feminist movement is to give women a choice, and you’re modelling that to a T!

  20. I think feminism is the very thing that allows us to forge our own path. You’re so right though, many people judge others who are on a separate path – be it a stay at home mom or a career woman with two nannies. The judgement gets us nowhere! And your daughter will love you for the example you set for her, then she’ll choose her own path while you cheer her on! #GlobalBlogging

  21. I completely agree with you Jen. For me feminism is about equality and having the right to chose our own path without barriers or judgement. I think I’m also part Miranda and part Charlotte, and I love that I’m free to be just that! Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  22. Feminism isn’t just about being a career mum, it’s about equality in all things. It’s about teaching the next generation that if they want to be a scientist, or a vet, that gender plays no role. That if a parent wants to go back to work, that they can (or if they want to stay at home, male or female, that’s cool too). So you’re right, it’s not an ‘us and them’ thing, it’s about striving to make sure that everybody is treated equally. Great post, thanks for linking up with #fortheloveofBLOG x

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