Bitch, Ph.D. wrote on Friday about feeling like a bad feminist because she’s doing the stay at home parent thing. Here she has a Ph.D., is perfectly intelligent and capable, but is choosing to do volunteer work, etc. instead. And that makes her feel like a bad feminist. A “good” feminist shouldn’t take on that role. Been there, done that. Feel the same guilt.
What she suggests is that sometimes fighting the system requires us to go against our personal connections, some of which might actually support the system, like marriage, like parenting. What would a good feminist do? Would she go find work in her field even if it might take her away from her family? Would she insist that said family come with her to wherever she goes for work, even if it might mean her partner would have to take a lesser job or have no job at all? Practicalities get in the way sometimes of doing the “right” thing. Some women ten years my junior have talked about seeking out partners that would go into the career thing with them equally. Many of those women are still single or living halfway across the country from their spouses. And that’s all fine if that’s okay with them, but I know some of them aren’t particularly happy with their arrangements.
While I look back on some of the choices I made and wonder, well, if I’d done x or y, might I have been in a better place career wise. And sure, if I’d insisted that Mr. Geeky wait until I was at a point where I could go on the market with him, I might have tenure by now. But, Mr. Geeky might not be at a place that he likes. In fact, his career might have just defaulted. And that wouldn’t have been good for either of us. And maybe my choices, mostly making the best of wherever Mr. Geeky ended up, looks like I was being a bad feminist. At the time, however, I was doing the best with what I was faced with, as was Mr. Geeky. A lot of my decisions and his decisions were actually our decisions. And that’s what you do when you hitch your life to someone else’s. Our mutual needs and desires have always led us to make decisions, some of which we’re very aware go against a particular political stance. It’s always a matter of compromising. We know what we wouldn’t compromise and unfortunately, an ideal feminist relationship isn’t something that we can always maintain. It’s good enough for us. It works for us. And both of us do work that directly challenges the system that keeps women down. Nothing is perfect.