Why I Am Not a “Feminist”

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by JuJuBe (Joanna)

I recently wrote a post for Womanist Musings, in which I discussed my previous “Flirtation with Phoniness” The basic gist of the story was that I used to act and speak in way that I perceived to be more “Black” in order to fit in with a new found group of friends. In truth, I had adopted behavior based on racist stereotypes, and I was coming off like an ignorant fool. My boyfriend at the time had a conversation with me in which he told me how bad I was making myself look, and told me to “knock it off” and be myself.

One of the first comments on the post was from an individual who basically went in a totally different direction and decided that my post was all about sexism and my “patriarchal” ex boyfriend, who had the nerve to “lecture” me about my behavior. She completely ignored the point of the post (that I was exhibiting racist behavior that needed to change) in order to make this an issue of gender instead of race. She then posted a portion of my words on her blog, as an example of patriarchy in action. Thus ensued a long discussion about the right of a woman to make her own choices in life.

See, I believe that a woman is entitled to pursue whatever lifestyle she desires. If she wants to be a CEO of a company, she should pursue a career in business. If she wants to be a doctor, she should go to medical school. If she wants to have sex with many partners, she should be able to make that choice without being judged or shamed. And, if she wants to be a “traditional” wife and mother, she should be able to pursue that option as well.

Unfortunately, that last statement seems to be problematic to many (not all) “feminists” (particularly “radical feminists”). They believe that a woman can only live a fulfilling life if she pursues a career outside of the home. They believe that housewives are victims of patriarchy, that they have been “programmed” to take on that role, and if they only knew better, they would choose to be career women instead.

I have even been told that woman who pursue a life as a full time wife and mother are causing grave damage to the people around them, and are oppressing other women.

See, now I do not call myself a feminist because all too often, people you are part of the feminist movement do not truly believe in a woman’s right to make her own choices. Instead, they want to replace a patriarchal system in which men force women to pursue a certain lifestyle with a system in which other women tell them what to do, and judge them for not “measuring up”. And that, to me, is extremely problematic.

I do not believe that anyone should have the right to tell me how I should relate with other human beings. If I choose to allow the man in my life to “take charge” of certain aspects of our life together, I should be able to make that choice without being made to feel that I am less of a woman. Just as my man should not feel like he is less of a man if he decides to rescind control of certain other aspects of our relationship to me. It is a matter of give and take.

Personally, I want to be a full time mother, if I am able. I feel like raising a child is a noble pursuit, and that is what I long for. It does not mean that I will not have a life outside of my child, it just means that I will choose to dedicate most of my energy to the person who I brought into this world.

I do not want to miss any of those little moments with my future child. I want to be there when he says his first words, or when she cuts her first tooth. I want to be the one to soothe her and wipe away her tears when she cries. Heck, I even want to be the one to wipe the spit up off of his chin! I do not see what is so wrong with being a mother, first and foremost.

I am a nurturing person. Nothing pleases me more than to be able to cook a lovely meal for the people I love. I enjoy doing the little things to “take care of” or “pamper” the man in my life. And yes, sometimes I enjoy playing a “submissive” role with a man, allowing him to take charge. Is that so wrong? Shouldn’t that be my decision? I mean, where is the harm in being a “traditional” wife/mother, if it is not being forced upon me?

If I have the choice to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a CEO, shouldn’t I also have the choice to be a stay at home mother and wife? Apparently for a lot of people who define themselves as “feminists”, the answer is no.

So, I will speak out against sexism when I see it. I will support fully a woman’s right to choose what to do with her life, what career to pursue, and what happens to her own body. But, it has to go both ways. A woman should not be forced to only choose that which is considered the “liberated” way of life. Because to me, true liberation means allowing all legal, sane, moral choices without judgment. And that is why I do not call myself a “feminist”.