Thursday, March 22, 2007

In which insomnia, thirstiness, and a disturbing realisation keep the author awake

When my latest bout of insomnia, paired with some serious thirst, woke me at 4 this morning, I thought I might as well use the time to consider some of the thoughts that have been peppering my brain for the last 24 hours or so.

The inner confusion began when I read this post on Feministing, a fantastic blog which I highly recommend. And I'll admit, upon reading it, my initial, heartbreakingly logical thought was "Well, that's logical" (don't worry, it does get better). They had a job opening, they filled it with who was available. It's not like she lost her job. And as was pointed out at TAPPED, if they wanted Griffin, they were going to find an excuse to use him. And besides, it's just logical. But had she been hospitalised due to appendicitis, kidney stones, or a herniated vertebrae, would the Justice Department have used that as an excuse? I think not.

Parenting demands inherent sacrifices, as it should. But when you get right down to it, these demands are disproportionately born by women. Child-bearing is a necessarily female endeavour, in spite of however involved the father may be. Because these demands are so predominantly woman's, the sacrifices most often are, as well. But why? If my husband and I want children equally, but also desire our careers equally, why must my future suffer, while his goes unencumbered? It only seems logical because that's the way it's always been.

It is argued that we choose to have children, so the sacrifices forced upon us are also our choice. But in examples of couples having children, it is also a choice on the part of the father, yet his career-sacrifices need be few if any.

Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is discrimination on the basis of sex. The decision of this Court in Bliss, which reached the opposite conclusion, is inconsistent with the Court's approach to interpreting human rights legislation taken in subsequent cases and should no longer be followed. Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination simply because of the basic biological fact that only women have the capacity to become pregnant...Those who bear children and benefit society as a whole should not be economically or socially disadvantaged. It is thus unfair to impose all of the costs of pregnancy upon one half of the population.

Brooks v. Canada Safeway Ltd., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1219

But back to the confusion in my brain. So I'm thinking all these things, but everytime I would make an argument to myself, I would think "But children are a choice; children should require sacrifice". And this morning, sometime around 5, I realised something rather disturbing about myself. I read feminist blogs and I get all riled up inside, and I respect and admire the women who write these posts and books and articles and think they're fabulous, but I never picture them as mothers. I certainly don't intend to cease having a feminist brain once I am a mother. On the contrary, it will be of more necessity to me as a mother than it is now. But something (shall we blame the patriarchy? yes, let's!) has informed in me the great misconception that hard-core feminists are not mothers; that they have chosen to have successful, meaningful, rewarding, but very demanding careers instead of children and motherhood. And that's one of the more dumb-assey thoughts I've had in a good long while.

I'm looking at feminism in a whole new light this morning. It's whole purpose - truly, the entire impetus behind the movement - is inclusion: that women may be included in all the rights, freedoms, privileges, joys, sorrows, sacrifices, and advantages enjoyed by free men since the dawn of time. That ALL women may be included: those who are mothers, and those who haven't a maternal bone in her body.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go dig out my copy of Simone de Beauvoir.


  1. You know it's funny. I've recently come to discover two trains of feminist thought. One that's North American: Women must be treated equally in the workplace, etc. etc. (everything I was reared to believe) but then the second one that I believe is more European (and of course I forget where I read this) but while Americans were burning their bras demanding equal pay, Europeans women were fighting for better treatment as working mothers.
    Now before I had Chunky, I never felt discriminated against. However, now that I do, I feel I have to be careful with potential employers--not letting it slip that I have a kid. I don't want them to use that against me (even though legally they can't..but...). I think we set ourselves back by not really taking into account that women have a more complex role than men when you add childbearing (and yes, childrearing--even though men can equally do this after a certain point in a child's life) when we were fighting for womens' rights in the heyday of that movement.
    The only time I've ever felt penis envy is when I've had to deal with parental crap that falls on my shoulders because I'm the female. It's self-perpetuating, yes, but it's a hard rut to break out of.

    Wow. Do I get a prize for windiest comment ever? ;-)

  2. I think the femenist movement is doing women a great disservice by demanding equal treatement as men. Bezzie may have expressed this better. We should not be demanding equality with men, but acknowledgment of our unique role as women and better treatement for women. When we equate ourselves as men we deny the things that are inherently different and wonderful and beautiful about being a woman. Like it or not we do have different innate abilities and ways of thinking about the world. Men and women together compliment one another. Instead of insisting the world change and treat women more like men we should be demanding better treatment as women. Bezzie said it better.

  3. I think that we need some balance. Somehow somewhere we all decided that equal=same. But treating everyone the same doesn't work--because there are differences.

    I need to think about this more.



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