Last week, I overheard some of the women in one of my classes talking about how they never wanted to be stay-at-home moms and ridiculing smart women who have so much potential, but only become housewives. While their opinions may have validation in their personal interests, I think we need to be careful how we judge the choices of other women.
Choice is often the rally cry of feminists; choice when it comes to abortion or potential careers. However, this mantra should be translated not only to those women who decide to go into the workforce, but also the women who make the choice not to.
Feminism often has a bad rep for bra-burning, man-hating women who are extremely liberal, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Women have the opportunity to come together as a strong union, bonded by a respect for other women’s choices rather than loose stereotypes of how “strong” women should act.
Women who take demanding jobs in corporations or elsewhere, it can be said, do nearly as much work as housewives. The women who stay at home caring for their children are rushed with a long list of motherly duties and wife-like expectations: it’s not easy. I think that much has to be said about women who make the decision to take that on; it’s a very intimidating task.
More and more women are turning to becoming stay-at-home moms, according to the 2006 Census Bureau. The number jumped to 5.6 million in 2006, up from 4.6 million in 1996. With the number rising even more in the past couple of years, it shows that there is no decline in the number of women interested in being housewives.
As the career options for women are increasing and women are beginning to take more authoritative roles in business, the fact remains that many women prefer to spend their days with their children, and who’s to say that is a wrong or demeaning choice?
Many people also argue that being a stay-at-home mom is especially beneficial for their children. Children get special attention beyond that of a day care or a nanny, and children aren’t without the guiding company of their parents. Some people often say that those children who go without such lifestyles are more likely to be despondent or immoral. Whether that is true cannot really be seen. Either way, I think it is respectable that many women forfeit grand careers in the best interest of their children.
We have to look at this choice, not as retroactive for the case of women but perhaps as an extension of what makes women so amazing. We can be aggressive in the business world, but we also can appreciate and accept the demands of staying at home and taking on homely duties.
Even though this decision to become a housewife doesn’t appeal to me, I’m not in any place to judge. As NMU English professor Lesley Larkin says, there is not one single woman’s experience. In other words, there is not one way a woman should spend her days. We should be able to respect the choices of all women.