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Late Night: Who’s a Real Feminist?

Okay, shit like this? Is why women who are feminists but say they aren’t feminists say that.

I have to admit that when I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton — one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better — but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed. I’m not much of a moralist — I have absolutely no right to be — but in the interest of doing what’s right both for me personally and for women generally, I have been strict with myself about earning my keep. For the longest time I would not date anyone who would now be called a one-percenter because money and power are such a potent combination, and if I am going to be bossed around, I don’t want that to be the reason. When it’s come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don’t want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.

We can spend all day lifing stay at home mothers and housewives and you know what will happen at the end of it, as a result? Those women a) probably won’t be well-disposed toward people who call them idiots who are wasting their lives b) will be just as subject to the rules of a society that deems them worth less than men c) might be ashamed of themselves which as long as I’ve been alive has never magically made anyone become awesome.

I could give a fuck who has a “real” job and who doesn’t, and who is betraying the sisterhood by being a wife and mother, because that crap is a distraction from what people — mostly wealthy men — are doing to perpetuate a system that degrades the lives of all women.

I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time — by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits — is her feminist choice. Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.

Wow. Because feminism began when some middle-class woman in 1969 went to work, and it’s all worthless if some middle-class to wealthy woman doesn’t do so now? The “whole point” once upon a time was that women couldn’t vote or own property or inherit money, that women could be thrown into asylums for sticking up for themselves or telling their husbands not to beat them anymore, that women could have their children taken from them if they displeased their spouses, that women couldn’t serve on juries or could be fired from whatever jobs they did manager to land because of their inconvenient chickitude.

The “whole point” was that women are human beings and citizens of this country and deserve to be treated as such, in the workplace, at home, and in the pages of the Atlantic. You know, there are ways to talk about women’s willingness to surrender their own economic power (as parts of this piece do) that don’t devolve into shaming other ladies, wealthy or not, but this reads like Wurtzel is mostly after winning the Feminist Olympics and writing a new rulebook on who gets to use the F word. Which, look, i will hand you the medal myself if it means we can get  back to fighting how the state should be able to tell me how many children I can have.

And apparently stay-at-home dads don’t exist in this world, although I know quite a few of them these days. I wonder what kind of feminists they are. Probably the wrong kind.



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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.