Post # 1
*** I am posting about my personal experience. You may have found something completely different and I’d love to hear it.***
I’m talking about the stigma against being a married woman.
I’ve always considered myself to be a feminist. Not in the man-bashing way, but in supporting other women. I started volunteering for the Women’s Issues Network in my area this year, and I loved everything about it. Helping the women’s shelter and being a part of Take Back the Night made me feel really good, but as I spent time with the other volunteers I relized that many treated me differntly once they found out that I’m engaged. Specifically, they seemed to include me less in the team.
I feel like in some circles there’s an idea that a woman allows herself to be “tied down” rather than making a huge, life-changing decision. I think that being a feminist is about a belief. A stay-at-home mom can be, in my eyes, an empowered woman and a feminist. It’s all about how we chose to live.
Has anyone else encountered anything like this? Any changed in the way people see or treat you since he put a ring on it? Any changes in the way you see yourself or others?
Post # 3
That didn’t happen when I was engaged (because I was in Colombia), but it definitely happened when I became pregnant. I guess some women figure that you can’t become a mother and still empower yourself. Isn’t it about having the choice??
Post # 4
Well there are different types of feminism that are basically at odds with each other. The first one is the essentialist point of view, which aims to recognize that there is a difference between men and women, and empower women using that difference. That seems to be what you are. The more prevalent version, however, is the constructivist point of view, which basically says that the differences between men and women are created by society, and aside from different sexual functions, there really should be no differences. The differences come from what we call the sexes, our expectations of the genders, etc…
I personally share your point of view though!
Post # 5
I’ve found that there are definitely some anti-marriage people on my campus, especially because I’m taking an LGBT Psych class which is cross-listed under our Women’s and Gender Studies major, so it’s about half Psych majors and half Women’s Studies majors. But the people I’ve come across haven’t seemed to treat me differently for being engaged, they just don’t think it’s right for them.
I think you’re always going to get those really opinionated people who think that what’s right for them is right for everyone. But obviously that’s not the case, and a marriage is what you make it, no matter what it once was as an institution.
Post # 6
Actually all of the feminists I know are in serious long term relationships or married so nope!
I’ve found being a married person makes everyone take you more seriously – which is unfortunate IMO. Married status should not make people think you are more responsible or treat you better.
You’re right that they are different approaches to feminism but I don’t think they break down along lines of happy/unhappy for other people’s marriages. Most feminists I know do think that men and women are mostly alike (certainly more alike than not) and are still pleased when friends find life companions.
One thing that coule be going on is that feminism is about (in part) critiquing and examining the role society has for women and its limiting effects. When/If you see women choosing those limiting effects, women who you thought ‘knew better’ it can be painful. I agree that a stay at home mother can be a feminist but a stay at home mother that has made no arrangements for her financial security in case of divorce – after most divorces the woman is much much much worse off financially than the man – is a feminist whose financial security is dependant upon the man she married and maintaing the relationship with him a woman who has voluntarily put herself at a huge disadvantage power wise in her relationship. And while power struggles are not something good relationships have much neither do I think power is completely absent from relationship dynamics. There are stay at home moms I admire, absolutely but some choices that women make do make me sad.
Or it could just be that your friends are mostly single and so think that marriage will change how much time you have available for them and how much you have in common. I encourage you to show them you’re still the same person!
Post # 7
- Wedding: June 2010 - Tannery Pond at the Darrow School
This is interesting…I was a women’s studies major in undergrad so I would um, definitely consider myself a feminist but I have yet to experience anyone else’s negative opinions about my engagement…If anything, it’s a struggle that I personally wrestle with in my mind, with little from the outside world having any influence.
Ultimately, feminism is about giving women the right to CHOOSE what they wish to do with their lives. The point is not to judge women for their choices, should it be about getting married, having children, etc, but to empower them to be able to make a choice based on what they WANT to do, not what is expected of them or what society deems is “correct.”
I’m sorry you’ve had some negative experiences due to such a happy and joyous occasion in your life. I think sometimes, especially when people are heavily involved in a cause close to their heart, we lose perspective on things and are quick to judge without really stopping to think about our own personal philosophies…
Whooo, that was long and heavy subject matter for before 8:00 am!
Post # 8
@MightySaphire, I definitely didn’t see that one coming! Most of the ladies I volunteer with talk about motherhood as being really empowering. I wonder if some of these different approaches are specific to different areas/groups.
@Arachna, I agree that stay-at-home mom’s should make sure that they are financially secure. I was actually going to make that a qualification my OP, but it was already getting long.
So I’m getting a few ideas from this thread:
It could be an age-based issue. I know lots of other college brides have posted about people on campus making rude comments, so maybe it’s just that some of these women are at that stage.
Or it might be a local thing. I know lots of the women in the group are very opinionated about things like non-hormonal birth control and natural birth too, so it could just be an anomaly.
Post # 9
@MichelleMyBell, I haven’t experienced any of this myself. And like Miss Trail Mix says, it is more something I wrestle with in my own mind–I’m a professor who teaches/studies gender and law and is cross-listed in both Political Science and Gender Studies. It sounds like the community in which you find yourself right now has a very narrow view of what an “authentic” feminist experience might be, but many of us share your view that feminism is about being able to make one’s on choices and that, even within a constructivist view, there are lots of variations on what it means to seek and achieve gender equality.
Post # 10
It’s all about choices, and how you operate within those choices (vague much? lol).
I chose to be a wife and stay-at-home mom and, it’s taken me some time, but I’m starting to hit my stride.
I started my own business, I do volunteer and charity work, and I’ve gotten somewhat involved in local politics. My lifestyle affords me some flexibility–a few hours here and there–to really make a difference.
My husband gave me one of the best compliments of my life the other day. He said, “I just complain about things. You actually do something about it.”
Meanwhile, I’m raising three kids, and teaching them to love and respect and find joy in life.
Someone will always find fault in your choices; but I’m confident in mine. My choices make me happy, and they empower me to be strong and help others; in fact, I’m *more* confident in my choices now than I ever was when I was single and supporting myself. I’m stronger and make more of a difference now than I ever did.
Everything’s what you make of it. 🙂
Post # 11
I’m glad to see that my experience isn’t the norm everywhere. I wouldn’t say that it really bothers me to have people react like this (I know that there will always be someone who is against anything), I was just taken off guard. I know Fiance has taken some ribbing from his friends about the “ball and chain” but I’m not used to women pushing that idea. I guess that’s my own sexism, thinking women would react differently
Post # 12
I like your view of feminism. It’s up to women like us to show that smart women are equals regardless of whether or not they are married, have kids, work outside the home, etc.
Post # 13
Yes i would consider my self feminist but not an exstreme. Well the other day a girl that is exstreme came up to me and said dont you find it degrading that you are taking a mans last name. I was like no I like the idea and yeah she went on and on and I was like wow.
Post # 14
I completely agree that feminism is about choice. To say that you have to be a bra-burning, man-hating, anti-marriage, career-oriented woman in order to be a feminist is just as bad as saying that you have to be a subservient, obedient, barefoot and pregnant homemaker to be a “traditional woman” (qualities exagerrated to make a point). Both of those extremes force certain behaviors upon women, which is the antithesis of the kind of feminism I espouse, where a woman can choose who she wants to be.
I’ve run into a few women who view feminism more as anti-man-ism rather than as a women’s choice. I told one friend that when I have kids I will probably stay home with them when they are young, and she failed to see how this could be a valid feminist choice. According to her I was going backward against all the women’s rights movement had ever fought for, whereas I feel that they fought for me to be able to decide for myself how to balance work and child-raising.
I think the women at your volunteer place are responding negatively to your engagement/marriage because their own preconceptions about men are being colored by your work at Take Back the Night. If you work in a climate where men are seen as the perpetrators of violence and abuse, then you might start to think of all men as potential assaulters and any woman associating with one as complicit with their abuses. You also develop an “us versus them” attitude, where the “us” is women and the “them” is men. You are therefore now associating with the enemy. If they haven’t met your fiance then they are even more able to make negative assumptions about him. Obviously your fiance is not one of the problem people, but I think in the absense of knowing the real person their attitudes are bleeding over from their volunteer work into regular life. I’m sorry this is happening to you! Maybe if they get a chance to meet your fiance or spend a little time with him they will come around.
Post # 15
I agree that feminism is about choice. It is something I struggle with though because I choose to live my life in a somewhat traditional manner… I have to remind myself that it IS choice. I make my FI’s lunch every day, and I make dinner every night. I don’t think he’s made himself a meal since we’ve moved in together come to think of it… except the one night I was going out with friends and left food in the fridge for him with a note on how to heat it up properly 🙂 I also do all of our laundry. There are moments where I feel like wow.. this really sucks! But then I remember that he takes care of the trash, and he shovels all the snow, he’ll mow the lawn, and he does all the messy things for me that I don’t want to do…. so yea, we live in our “traditional” roles but its by our choice. I would rather cook then shovel snow. I’d rather do the wash than take care of the trash.
In terms of how people view me… I think I’m seen as a bit more mature now maybe? I’m relatively young (25) and I look it, and I’m in a very professional industry (law) that has a LOT of older men in it. 95% of my interactions are with men who are 50+. I do feel that once I got that ring on my finger they saw me as a little older, more mature, and more capable. Is it right? No… but its life I guess.
Post # 16
I have certainly experienced this at my college. It’s like I had to turn in my feminist card! I think there is a lot tied to it… marriage inequality for one, that I am gleefully partaking in a cultural ritual and legal privilege that the LGBT community cannot, and that makes me a bad feminist/ally/liberal. Also, since I am 22 and have not yet been totally financially independent or started my own career, there’s a bit of backlash about that because it resembles the traditional model of women being financially dependent on their husbands. It’s disappointing that women often limit themselves in the name of empowerment. Why can’t I be married AND embark upon a career and financial independence? I think having a loving, supportive partner just makes that journey easier! But I always have to explain that to feminists who sort of raise their eyebrows at my choice.