"Feminism is not simply about making sure women have choice. Feminism is the work of making sure that the hard choice do not fall disproportionately to women."
--My brilliant feminist friend L
I love having smart, articulate friends who just *bam* hit me with brilliance. Defining feminism is one of those things we feminists love to sit around and argue about, and we usually agree to disagree and continue on working for justice. But, when I got this in my inbox yesterday, I found myself saying, "Yes, yes, yes!"
I do believe there is such a thing as being paralyzed by possibilities. When I was graduating from graduate school, I heard a resounding, "You're young! You can do anything, anywhere you want!" Does it not occur to those who says such things that not having parameters can be terrifying? It is isolating, overwhelming, and exhausting to try to review endless possibilities.
Progressive women (and men) are striving for new models of relationship, career, and family, turning the more traditional roles on their heads and using their creativity to arrive at new solutions. Things like job sharing, hyphenated or combined last names, and referring to one's partner as "partner" are all evidence of this. But it doesn't mean that it's easy to move into new models. And, when the new model fails, someone bears the brunt of the breakdown.
In the corporate world, there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of equalizing responsibility and access for women and men. For instance, I work at a women's rights organization, but just yesterday my co-worker wastold she has to use vacation time to attend a parent-teacher conference, something that is not a problem for other co-workers. What kind of model for "healthy family" are we setting? At the same time, I think I am guilty of holding women's organizations to a higher standard when really all organizations should appreciate the value of family and life outside of the office. AND, employees should experience an office culture in which is it is acceptable for both men and women to take advantage of a family leave policy.
Why should women be the ones advocating for these options when they benefit everyone?