Our contributor Abby Spector, who is majoring in Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:
My armpits are hairy. I study gender and sexuality. The Birkenstocks in my closet are held together by duct tape. If it were the sixties, my bra would probably be burning in the town square (if women had actually done this, which they didn’t). All roads lead to feminist (if not die-hard lesbian). But I have a secret that would shock my combat-boot clad, non-conformist sisters: I dream of becoming a housewife.
This is not because I love taking out the trash or organizing placemats around a seasonal wreath. Trust me, I have no desire to become the next Martha Stewart. I just want to fall in love with someone for the rest of my life, have kids with him, and watch those kids grow up. I want to be there for Clementine’s first step, Milo’s first taste of solid food and Delilah’s first look of confusion when she sees a woman shaving her legs.
I don’t think this fantasy is rooted in traditional sexism. Growing up, my mom worked a 9-5 while my dad stayed home. She made more of the money; he made more of the food. It wasn’t until we got cable that I realized our family dynamic was different. But even then, our strange set-up didn’t faze me; I had other fish of the familial variety to fry (my sister and I were constantly fighting, my cousin had just moved in and three of my grandparents had died within a two-year span). And I really didn’t give a flying fuck who washed my socks. All I cared about was having clean socks.
The point is, my upbringing was the opposite of sexist. So my dreams for my future are not just mimicking what I grew up with. In fact, at times, I think these semi-traditional dreams are rooted in rebellion against my non-traditional upbringing. Scholars would name this phenomenon “fourth wave feminism”, “post-modern modernism” or something else equally wordy and pretentious. To me, it’s life.
I am not ashamed to admit I dream about my future wedding. And I’ll be the first to admit that these dreams are far more elaborate than the occasional online browsing of Vera Wang gowns. I have the whole thing planned. My fantasy even has a budget. There is a three-tier cake and a bouquet of sunflowers on every table. But I won’t just follow the traditions blindly — I’ll put my own personal touches on them. My sister will do the vows, my guests will sleep in tents and my dress will NOT be white (the idea of me, a sex-writer and naked model, pretending to be a virgin is a hoot). And I will tattoo the ring onto my finger, a guarantee that it will never be lost.
My family life will follow a similar form of unconventional convention. Entire walls will be covered in flags, bumper-stickers and postcards. All of my kids, no matter their gender, will be given trucks and dolls. I will teach them every Ani Difranco lyric and how to cut a T-Shirt into a halter-top. Diva cups will be in the bathroom instead of tampons. Best of all, I’ll give them sex talks that will blow their mind.
Some see my dream of being a stay-at-home mom as a waste of my education. But I love learning for the sake of learning. I feel as though raising my children will stimulate this desire for curiosity more then a wall of a cubicle would. Plus, a degree in Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies doesn’t exactly put me on the fast track to career success. In my white picket fence dream (yes, my dream home has a white picket fence…the kids draw on it with chalk in the summer), I will still be a writer. I have a desk overlooking the back-yard where I work for the “Dear Abby” section of the local paper. Or I am the occasional sex therapist. Or I teach erotic finger painting at a nearby nursing home. Whatever this “other” activity is, it won’t be how I define myself. First and foremost, I will be a mother.
I know that marriage and the nuclear family is a screwed-up social construction. I’ve even written papers on the topic. But this argument is based on logic (and a desire to get an A). My happiness is not logical. My choices are not logical. What I’ve discovered is that you have to look past all forms of the ‘stereotypical’ woman. Some feminists shop at Victoria’s Secret. Some lesbians vote Republican. And some housewives wear combat boots. Being a feminist is about having the right to choose what you do with your life. My choice (as of today) is to be a stay-at-home mom. Therefore, I am a feminist.