Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: A Woman's Work

by Talia Jae

I began my training today with the new Women's Center advocates. Great first day. Everyone is really enthusiastic, excited and eager to contribute to the conversations. That is wonderful in my opinion. We discussed a lot of housekeeping stuff and what the women's center does, as well as what feminism means.

Bell Hooks says, "Feminism is a movement to end sexism." We took a look at what that means. Issues such as body image, sex, parenting, work, wages, marriage, childcare, etc... are on the list of women's issues that we see a lot of oppression through sexism. This list spawned a lot of discussion around what these particular issues might mean and how they are used as a form of oppression to women.

Three of the words stuck out to me in particular. Work, Parenting and Childcare. I am a mother of two small children and a wife. I am also a student and an employee/coordinator. I embody many roles in my life. The combination of parent and employee is a tough one though, for women. When you are partnered and both parents work outside of the home it makes childcare difficult. Childcare is insanely expensive anyway and arranging it to fit your particular needs is another obstacle. This requires a lot of juggling between the parents.

I know from many women's experiences, including my own, that when the mother has a job as well it is often seen as expendable. What I mean is this; when my child is sick and needs to come home from school it is completely expected that I will be the one to leave work and pick them up. When childcare cannot be arranged I am the one to stay home for the day. If childcare is too expensive then it is assumed that the woman will stay home and care for the children while the man goes to work.

Now by no means is this the rule. There are many households with many unique situations and struggles of their own. I am just touching on society's traditional view of marriage, children and parenting roles. Why is it that the woman is expected to drop her work and run home if need be? If a man were asked to do this more often than not it would probably come as a shock to them. Women's work has always been seen as expendable, less valued, underpaid or not paid at all. After having children this really became apparent to me.

We women are not treated as equals to men. Sure, we have come a long way in the last hundred years but lets not ignore the work that still needs to be done. The more we acknowledge society's oppression the more we can work against it. Lets stop assuming these roles we have been boxed into and start talking about why the box is there.

I, for one, am getting claustrophobic.

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