Is the Stay-at-Home Mom a Second Class Citizen?
She wakes up early because the baby is crying. The morning begins. She watches the sun rise from her rocking chair as she soothes the tears and the baby begins to relax. This is the baby of their dreams, the child they have always hoped for. The gift made between her husband and herself.
Society stresses that a woman have an "occupation." Can't the occupation of "wife" and "mother" be her chosen career without condemnation? She has a choice. According to some, she can elect to stay home with her children or say good bye to any professional career growth. She could grow in self-fulfillment and self-less nurturing or climb the corporate ladder and let other schools or childcare businesses raise her children.
Motherhood used to be a respected occupation. It was an expected occupation.
Today, we hear political rhetoric about how unworthy the stay-at-home wife is considered. According to some vocal movements in society, the stay-at-home mom is unqualified in experience for politics and business. For the professional chef, the insult is to be a "home cook." Women who have deferred their career life to nurture her children to school or through school have found businesses consider her skills invaluable. In the world of supposed equality, the feminist movement has now moved from seeking choice and equality to taunting those who's calling in life was to be the primary influencer of her children and the manager of the home. Where tolerance for being different used to be sought, intolerance and inequality has run rampant for personal choice. Today, we either embrace the work force and become corporate minded at the beginning of our career path or we will never have the respect of the world again. We will be considered a second-class citizen.
Women have worked outside the home for centuries. This is nothing new. Even in America, we have had the Daughters of Liberty from the 1700's. Dressmakers, bakers, business owners, mill workers and housekeepers for the wealthy were common jobs for the female wage earners. Back in 1872, Congress passed a law for equal pay for equal work. In other words, if the woman could do the same job as a man, she should be compensated for it equally. By the time Charlotte Gilman her book in 1898, "A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women, " the feminist movement and the rights for women had become a forefront of political and social dichotomy. Women wanted the right to choose life paths. They wanted equality. They wanted to be able to achieve personal fulfillment both inside and outside the home. When WWII emerged, the need for women to fill industrial jobs increased as the men filled the military quotas needed on the front lines. Many women finally found their place.
The Loss of Civility
The political shifts in the American society have become mired with self-actualization and polar aggressiveness. Opinions seem more important than facts. Distortion of truth and powerful rhetoric to prove a party affiliation over delivering solutions has become common place. Frequently, in the news and on political forums, attacks of the "stay-at-home" wife being a sub-servant to her husband, bearing a lifestyle of bondage is expressed by those who do not understand. What is little understood is that many stay-at-home moms are highly educated. They have deep skill sets and have learned many things that young professionals could learn from. They have learned people skills. They learned to live without the second income to maximize potential gains in the investment of human life. Many in the corporate world have learned the hunt of ladder climbing and have forgotten the value of learning from other avenues. The skill-set of the stay-at-home mom is often ignored. Society does not seem to recognize the merit of the women who have chosen the home front. Instead, remarks of unrealistic evaluations, the lack of credibility of being able to be qualified because she chose to stay home versus worked in the field fuel the fires. Both sides show dramatic ignorance and a lack of civility.
It is not "wrong" to work out of the home. It is a choice either for financial reason, for reasons of personal fulfillment or expectations. On the other hand, it is not wrong to choose a vocation, temporary or not, which revolves around an unpaid position, such as, staying at home. Society cannot have it both ways. To cry foul when for lack of self-fulfillment because they desire a corporate life and feel like they have been treated unequally -- or to cry foul when one chooses self-fulfillment by child-rearing and deferring their vocation away from home. Both are equally valid paths. Both have merit, drawbacks and skill-set development. We live in America, the land of the Free... or is it really just the land of where we want everyone to be clones?
In reality, the dilemma of the stay-at-home motherhood unequal treatment is just a symptom of what is happening to our society politically. Civility seems to have been lost. Forcing selfish opinions on each other and increasing the divide has been escalating. These divides are non-productive and primarily destructive.
The National Divides
We have many national divides in our nation. There have been movements endorsed by political parties to inflame the divide. There have been deep wars between the ideals of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. The hatred and political force against the rich and the influential has been lopsided as it seems to only American Corporation owners and family rich and not the entertainers of Hollywood or Sports players. There are numerous forms of religious factions. And yes, we are still battling the factions of race. We are battling the factions of the women who choose to stay home against the women who do not. We are a nation divided.
"A house divided will not stand" was more than a quote from the Bible in Mark 3:25, but also a very famous speech from Abraham Lincoln regarding the Civil War. His concern for our nation was over the divided issue of slavery. He saw it literally rip our nation apart. Brother killing brother. Father was against son. The bloodbath and the toll it took out on our nation devastated us for generations. The famous lines from Lincoln should echo in our minds today as we watch the tearing apart of our nation. We need to hear those words uttered once again...
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South." ~ Abraham Lincoln
For each division we have in our nation -- we need to repeat those words... for today, it isn't about North and South, but far liberal Democrat or extreme conservative Republican. Our Nation cannot stand until we come and reason together with arms locked in the celebration of diversity.
George Santayana was right when he made the statement, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" . It is a dangerous political game we as a nation are playing. It is time for moderation. It is time for civility to rule. It is time for a nation to begin to heal from the self-destruction is has been engaging in. The division has to stop. The hatred, the jealousy, the brute force of trying to make everyone the same instead of embracing our differences has to cease and desist.
It should not matter what color our skin is... for we should be colorblind and embrace humanity. It is our differences that make us unique, not weaker or stronger, smarter or better. It shouldn't matter if we are rich or poor. If we treat one another with dignity and learn to help one another instead of hating one side because they have something more than the other guy -- then we are moving forward. If we can just learn that religion is an expression of who we are in our hearts. That it isn't our job to save people or convince people there is not god. For the true believe of God, the job of conversion is His. Our job is to love our neighbors. For the unbeliever, forcing the anti-theistic views with hatred shows a fear of those who express faith. It merely causes divides -- it doesn't convince. For the working woman, society has allowed the choice to work squarely on her shoulders. The inverse it also true. The choice to not work is also a freedom we enjoy. No woman's value is less than the other. No woman's intelligence is less than the other. Each one is still a woman and that is a good thing.
Let's heal the divisions and begin to build our future together. As we reflect on the civil war, we have had healing in our nation before, we can do it again.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Women and Economics. New York: Source Book Press. 1970.
Fehrenbacher, Don E. "The Origins and Purpose of Lincoln's 'House-Divided' Speech". Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 1960.pp 615–643.
Santayana, George. Reason in Common Sense, volume 1 of The Life of Reason. 1905.
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