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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Monday, October 15, 2007


This feminist housewife's story

This morning I had the pleasure of being interviewed and photographed by two young women, graduate school students in the Social Documentation Graduate Program at UCSC. It was a fun experience because of all the things I most enjoy doing, talking about myself ranks pretty high.

I answered questions pertaining to feminism, being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom, and blogging as activism. I broke down when they had me read some of my old blog posts, namely this one about my and Mike's courtship and this one written when I was thinking about quitting my job to stay home with Emily. And I remembered the angst I felt back in 2004 when I read my post worries of a feminist housewife:

i was ok with knowing that i am a surrendered feminist - a closet traditionalist - when i thought i was hurting nobody but myself. but then i read 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships : What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It by david niven and found out that one of the secrets is "share the housework." uh oh. and then i read Strong, Smart, and Bold: Empowering Girls for Life by carla fine and in the appendix "101 ways to empower a girl and improve her world," way #3 is "make sure that household chores...are shared equally by girls, boys, men, and women in your home." eek. these books are telling me that my happiness with housework eventually will cause the ruin of my family and the emotional frailty of my daughter. ahhhh!!!

why i read books that cause me to question my life i do not know. all i know is that i am a feminist because i believe in equality of the sexes. and even though i currently am a stay at home mom who takes care of the kid while my husband works outside the home and is the sole contributor to the household income, i consider myself a positive role model for my daughter. i'm teaching her to be strong, to be interesting, to be independent, and to believe in herself. even if she does see me doing a lot of changing diapers, shopping for groceries, and vacuuming.

So what role does feminism now play in my life, three years later? Have I buckled under the weight of a thousand loads of laundry and now think that men have it better than women? Have I surrendered to a conformist identity and lost my unique sense of self? At one point I worried about my own feminist image and whether or not I was in a position to raise children who would grow up to understand that a woman could be anything she wanted to be, even if what she wanted to be was a (gasp!) mom. If my children never see me leave for work in the morning, will they still know that women have the capacity to rule the boardroom and the world?

Here's the thing: my current, self-described feminist belief structure now has more to do with happiness than with who folds the laundry. And I don't mean brain-dead, glassy-eyed, wake-me-up-when-it's-over happiness. I mean the kind of happiness that comes from a hard job done well. I am happy being this housewife that I am. My kids know me as a happy mom, one who wakes up with a smile on her face. In the long term, I hope they know me as a woman content with the decisions she's made in her life, but also one who strives for a better world, both inside our home as well as outside of it.

Whew. Anyway, the interview process was fun and I think it's interesting that blogging and its social ramifications are being studied in universities. I had another student email me recently to tell me that my blog would be discussed in a Women's Studies class. I find all of this attention highly flattering. Too bad it doesn't mean that I don't have to now go slave over the November issue of my mothers club newsletter.