I’d like to start off by saying that I am grateful for the women who made strides in their efforts to give their fellow women equality in Western society. I also recognize that I am enjoying the fruits of their labor and wouldn’t be in the space I occupy now if it wasn’t for them. But as with many movements, feminism isn’t perfect and it has unintended consequences. I’ve found the effects of this movement a double-edged sword, and here’s why:
Women now have two roles: breadwinner + homemaker. With the transition of women into the workplace, our earning capacity has approached or even surpassed that of our male counterparts. We are now expected to be equal contributing partners, but when we come home from work, guess who still has to maintain the home? Guess who takes on the majority of childcare? Guess who has to take the day off when little Johnny gets sick? We are expected to still play the role of homemaker while also being expected to provide for our families.
The “mommy tax.” On top of the pressures of being a homemaker and a breadwinner, our roles in the home are hindering our earning capacity because in jobs where tasks are not standardized, the people who are most absent will be paid less and passed up for promotions. This is the true pay gap: women stepping back from work due to duties of the home and getting penalized for it at work. This phenomenon is called the “mommy tax.” We’re being pressured to put on two hats but the result is that we are spread thin and feel like we don’t excel at either.
Women are encouraged to be someone they’re not. As someone who decided to pursue a calling outside of the home, I absolutely do not get it when other “career women” make fun of or look down on women who choose to stay home. Being a homemaker is still a job if taken seriously. And having hired help as a homemaker is still absolutely fine. The biggest problem I see in women is that they reject their desire to be financially taken care of by men, to be homemakers, to focus on the home, and they get into 50/50 relationships with men thinking that this is the cool progressive thing to do. When these women then express their desire for something different, something more, they are shamed for being “gold diggers” or “dependas” By being honest with ourselves about what we want out of men and out of life, we are saving ourselves time and heartbreak and misery.
Women are shamed for expecting/demanding more of men. When women have access to most resources society can provide and when they are expected to be “strong independent women who don’t need no man,” we are shamed for expecting men to provide us resources we otherwise could get on our own. But what is the point of getting into relationships if not for fulfillment? Why would I get into a relationship with a man who doesn’t know how to take care of a woman? Why would I date someone who is not emotionally available? Why would I marry someone who’s constantly broke? Yes, I can take care of myself, but if I wanted to raise a child, I’d have my own.
The dating pool is filled with boys. I experienced this firsthand. Men have been spoiled with a dating pool of young pick-me’s who are so eager for their attention and have been influenced by some brand of feminism that has made them feel bad for demanding more. Independence doesn’t mean a lack of vulnerability and lack of recognizing that you need to be nurtured too.
Our contributions in relationships are discounted. Because we are now “equal,” women pay half on dates or general relationship expenses (rent, groceries, vet bills, etc.) but still spend a lot of resources on their physical appearance because after all, our societal value depends on it. Here’s a few numbers: gym membership ($30), pilates ($150), makeup ($200), hair appointments ($400), nail appointments ($60), facials ($100), skincare ($200), gym clothes ($200). If you can do most of these maintenance tasks at home, great. Although you don’t necessarily have to spend this much on maintenance, these are still things that you do to have high societal value as a woman. Before we even set foot at the restaurant, we have already invested far more resources and time on the date compared to the man. So tell me again why you should pay for dinner too? The same goes for when you are in a relationship. Relationships can be equal between two people, but that doesn’t mean you both have to pay with the same currency.
The concept of feminism is great, but its execution isn’t perfect. I’m sure the early proponents of the movement did not foresee these effects decades later, but nonetheless, here we are. By recognizing that modern feminism is not a one-size-fits-all approach or that there is no one great model of the “modern woman,” we are allowing ourselves the grace to pursue what works for us. The concept of feminism as equalizing both sexes is great at face value, but I find that what it does now is dividing women instead of uniting. I’m usually an optimist, but for this matter, I am being a realist in that I don’t think these societal conditions will change in my lifetime. Although I support future-focused movements, I am adapting to what the current state is now and am doing my best to conquer.