Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Feminism vs. Greenism: Can't there just be a tie?

Are The Feminist Movement and The Personal Environmentalism Movement Compatible? That's a headline if there ever was one. And it begs a question: Can you be a green mommy, a working mommy and a feminist mommy at the same time?

Perhaps it's a bit of a simplistic idea. But let's face it. A lot of the green blogs out there (likely myself included on occasion) tirelessly journal the things grown, made, canned or cooked, all in the name of greenness. How we diaper our children in last year's sweatshirts or dressed our kids in the old drapes a la The Sound of Music. How we're talented or resourceful enough to educate our children in four languages and teach them how to be completely self-sufficient by the age of 10. How we're able to can enough to feed the neighborhood in case of the impending blizzard. And there's nothing wrong with that. The beauty of the First Amendment and the Internet is that each of us can write about whatever we please.

As someone who juggles (sometimes more successfully than others) four jobs - career woman, wife, parent and (sort of) housekeeper - I can understand how critical the juggle is. And how somehow things get off balance. And how my Catholic, green or mommy guilt - pick your choice that day - colors my perception of the world.

Does it make me less of a feminist if I choose to cook my meal versus ask my husband to take it on - or gasp, order a pizza - if I don't feel up to the task? Or if I rely on my husband instead of myself to fix the toilet that's now clogged with an entire package of toddler toilet wipes that I bought in a moment of complete frustration over my daughter's hygiene habits?

Writes Ruchi at Arduous Blog:

... The truth is, we're never going to address gender imbalance when one set of people, largely women, are consistently being told "you should enjoy cooking and
cleaning, and if you don't, you're not feminine." Or that if you don't enjoy making organic baby food from scratch you're not a good mom. Because the truth is, you can be a good woman, and you can be a good mom even if you would rather pay a service to wash your baby's organic cloth diapers. Or you would rather buy $8 jam from the farmers' market. Or you think that if the toilet only gets cleaned once a month ... well, no one will die.

There's something to remember to this. It's not all about gender balance or imbalance. Let's be realistic; how many "traditional married" households are there these days anyways?

Being green is not a cookie-cutter lifestyle. Just as generations ago, pioneer women didn't all live on vast homesteads, we all have the benefit of sprawling lots or apple orchards in our backyard. We can make general choices that help our environment or the community (such as using CFL bulbs, using less gas or frequenting a farmers market). But we can take it a step further as we may desire, with varying results. And there's nothing wrong with whatever we do. Because it was our cumulative efforts that got us into this mess in the first place, and it's our cumulative efforts that will help us get out of (or at least improve) it.

With choosing to be a woman marries her talents with her responsibilities to this world, whatever they may be, we have the ability to make choices. And those choices can be just hire someone to do your toilets, bully your teenage son to use your green cleaner himself , just suck it up and accept the messiness and the disorder that is life, or tackle the task on your own.


Farmer's Daughter said...

Interesting point. I have a feeling there will be a lot of posts on this topic circulating around.

As for me, I do what I enjoy (growing, preserving, cooking) and what I have to do (cleaning, laundry, etc.) and work full time. Lots of people keep talking about choice, but in terms of housekeeping and paid work, I have no choice. I have to do both.

Corie said...

I like this post! It raises an interesting question.

In my little corner of the world, I just set my mind on the fact that I can do what I can do, and I can't do everything. I'm happy with that. There's not enough time in the world to do everything exactly "right," depending on whose version of "right" one considers. So I (ahem, my husband) cook when I (he) can, clean when I (yes, this is definitely me, not him) must and do what little part I can to help the environment...without killing myself in the process. I have to (and want to) work, and with that big chunk of the week's time already claimed--and a healthy portion of what remains reserved for the things that make me happy--I'll happily do what I can...but nothing more. :o) What good is being green (or claiming feminine territory) if you can't enjoy your life in the process?! :o)

Robbie said...

Corie, exactly! I only have so many hours in a day, and plenty of things to occupy my worries in that timeframe. So there are some things that get done (like responsibly feeding my kids) and some don't (like managing my paper problem on my work desk). And once in a while, I budget time for fun.

Abbie, I understand not having a choice of having to do both. Don't I wish I could hire help! But the great thing is you're able to find a balance that works for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - you always make me think! Don't know how to officially "link" to this post so will simply say you inspired this:

Anonymous said...

being a seasoned domestic engineer almost empty nester i marvel at who i was first baby ie what was important to me, vs how far i have strayed from those it had to be that way ideals...the journey really does shift - in the end having the chrome bathtub spouts spot free isn't that important - it took me years to let that one go

add the elements of single parenting, entrepreneur - I played the compare game for some time - who did what i did better or worse or how married folks have the best of both worlds

i really missed the sharing day to day male partnership i could of had, but relish in the choices i could make just for me...