A letter about feminism

This is a repost of a letter I wrote to Jared from Lick the Fridge. Read more about this kick-ass letter-writing project here.

On Feminism, Motherhood, and Careers

Jared,

Twice now, I’ve referenced your Betty Friedan post and how I was going to expand on my comment from that post. I figured it was about time I did that!

In my comment, I wrote that I believe many women have taken feminism to mean they have to do everything themselves. Many of us feel we need to have prosperous careers, volunteer for the PTA, keep the house perfect, entertain guests, cook nutritious meals every night, etc. etc. etc. We fear asking for help will mean we are weak. We’re quite often our own worst enemies.

I don’t like speaking in generalizations and the only reason I’ve used “we” here is because the more I talk to other woman about this, the more I realize I am not alone in these feelings.

There are certainly still obstacles to overcome in the way women are portrayed and I won’t even go into the GOP’s determination to take us through a time warp. Politically, I will stand and fight for equality. But on a more personal level, I have to consciously remind myself that equality does not mean I have to do everything by myself.

I mentioned in my comment how I struggled with accepting that my biggest dream was to be a mother. I felt like a traitor to feminism because family was more important to me than a career. It was never that a career wasn’t important, just that it wasn’t my first priority. Even now. I quit my job a year and a half ago to follow my dream career for the first time in my life and even that was largely motivated by my desire to stay home and spend more time with my daughter.

I have a friend I’ve known since college. When I was in my early 20s, she was married with grown children who had children of their own. We used to talk for hours and hours, and I always valued her thoughts and advice.

I remember talking with her about my dreams of becoming a mother and about how I was having trouble reconciling that with being a feminist. She was the one who helped me to understand that feminism meant so much more than seeking a high-level career. She helped me understand that it was about choices and if my choice was to put motherhood ahead of a career that that in no way negated feminism.

I’ve had to defend myself several times over the last 8 years. I’ve had to defend why I was content to hold 3 degrees and work as a waitress or shift supervisor at Rite Aid. I’ve had to explain time and time again that I was making the best decisions I could in order to be the best mother I could be.

And I will continue to defend those decisions.

The beauty is that I’ve found a way to have *all* of those things that truly matter to me. From my job to my writing (and the books I promise will finally make it past the chicken scratch phase) to being home every night to tuck my daughter in and read her bedtime stories. And I’ve come to terms with the messy house and the occasional frequent lazy meals (or better yet, not having to be the one to cook them).

I’m even beginning to grasp the concept of asking for help.

~Dayle

Read Jared’s Response: The Radical Notion That Women Are Human Beings

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