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And this is why I don't identify as a feminist

Today, a news story was brought to my attention through a link which featured Al Mohler's "The Briefing." I confess I have only every listened to one or two of these broadcasts, and this morning, I simply read the transcript, but it alerted me to one of those things that gets me riding the rocking horse of indignation.

The story comes from Australia, where journalist Sarrah Le Marquand puts forth this view:

Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.

I believe it is implied that "gainfully employed" means employed for financial remuneration. She bases this conclusion on economic reasons, saying that her country's financial health would be better served by women contributing through paid work rather than childcare. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently pointed out the shortfall of female representation in Australia's workforce, so the best option is to mandate all parents work:

Only when the female half of the population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for either gender.

I firmly believe that women are free to work after they have children. I am grateful for the work of many feminists in the past who worked to change inequitable and unjust situations for women. Their goal was to make life better for women. But in their pioneering to make work options more equitable did that mean removing their choice not to work? When a woman like Le Marquand tells me that I am not free to make my life's work my children, she is doing what feminists have long accused men of doing: exerting control. When feminist groups seek to dictate how other women live, they set themselves up as an elite (and sometimes, not a wise elite, but rather the elite who has been aggressive enough to be heard) handing down judgment. A women's boy's club. 

This is why I am not eager to embrace the title of "feminist." It's such a loaded word. I know women who identify as feminist who are godly women, who long to see women grow in the things of God, and to be seen as the equal heirs of Christ that we are. And then then there are extrapolations like this article. And when feminism begins to run to extremes as in this article, I don't want the title. I remain a committed Christian Theist, and I believe, if properly worked out and understood, it will necessitate equality of value for both men and women; including those who want to stay at home full time with their children for as long as they like.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Kim,

Although I'm Australian, I had to Google Ms Le Marquand to find out anything about her. It seems that she specialises in provocative opinion pieces. I don't think her point of view is very widespread. It is a shame, though, that she undervalues the work of parenting school-aged children, and of unpaid work in general. Also, as someone suggested in the comments, it is ironic that she may well describe herself as "pro-choice".

The other thing that occurred to me as I was writing this, is that I am having trouble articulating my thoughts and typing them, because I am so tired, in a large part due to my unpaid parenting responsibilities relating to the particular needs of my older children. It is nobody else's business to tell me that I should be doing more than I am now.

I do think of myself in some ways as a feminist, but I would never describe myself as such because it would almost certainly be misunderstood.

March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Thanks for sharing that, Caroline. I appreciate your views, since you would know more about the situation in Australia than I would. I know that I, too, have views which could be described as feminist, but as you said, it would be misunderstood.

March 29, 2017 | Registered CommenterKim

Having said the above, I think most Australian women of older children feel at least some social as well as financial pressure to be working part-time. But mothering is still valued by much of the community as being of equal value to earning an income. And I think that people would baulk at the idea that the government could compel people to organise their families in any particular way.

One thing which stops me being too complacent about this is how quickly people's views on same-sex marriage (which is not legal here) seem to be changing. So maybe at some stage a tipping- point is reached, and something that was previously seen as unimaginable now seems natural and right. And there are some fairly strident anti-Christian views being promoted in the media at the moment, particularly in relation to the same-sex marriage issue.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to think about these things.

March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

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