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This might be your mother's feminism

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At each other's throats [Apr. 17th, 2008|11:26 pm]
This might be your mother's feminism


I really hate the mothers-against-mothers stuff. I have particular aspects of it I particularly hate, chief among them the idea that mothers who have other jobs / do not have other jobs are not proper mothers / not proper workers. I use the phrases "part-time mother" and "doesn't work" when I'm talking about this.

And today I hurt a mother who wasn't familiar with my heavily sarcastic use of the phrases. She knows me well enough to be able to work out that I don't actually think mothers who have other jobs are bad mothers, or part-time mothers, but the issue is so nasty that the phrase made her wince.

How can mothers express their own opinions to each other without it being an automatic attack? So much of the language is so loaded. I quite see that sarcasm doesn't help, but I get so ANGRY.


[User Picture]From: ailbhe
2008-04-20 09:05 pm (UTC)
I find this hard to articulate without more spare time and sleep than I currently get but I'll try.

Saying that the work a mother does when she's at home caring for her children rather than being paid for something else is "not work" is harmful because the society we live in values people directly based on the value of their work, usually the cash value of their work, and this means the mother-as-job woman has little to no value as a person, quite apart from her merit as a mother. It also trickles down to devalue the work of mothers who also have paid jobs, but who do mother-work (as distinct from mother-being) the rest of the time. And it devalues the paid work of the people being paid to care for other people's children while they engage in paid work themselves.

That's all fine, but then there's the fact that the use of the phrase is completely normal and that it's generally accepted as a matter of *fact* and not of opinion, because it supports and is supported by so many of the other assumptions (unpaid == economically inactive, economically inactive == less valuable person, traditionally feminine roles == teh suck, etc).

I find it a lot less offensive when it's used in normal bitchy context, as the insult "part-time mother" is, when it's just being used as a conscious put-down and not casually as part of a greater structure of, um. O hai, patriarchy. Hao R U?
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