Friday, September 14, 2012

My Brand of Feminism: I AM NOT A VICTIM



This blog post is not outrageous, not in the least. At least I didn’t think so! I wrote it over a year ago, back when I was a new mom to a three month old baby boy. I had lived in my PJ’s and sweatpants during those first few months in my adjustment to motherhood. It was hard. I was tired. I was constantly covered in spit-up and baby poop. But one day I decided my husband had endured enough of that. No, he never said a word about my disheveled appearance to me, but I know him well enough to know what he likes and doesn’t like. So I decided that for him I would make a special effort to at least look put together by the time he got home. You know, the way I would for work, or to go outside, or to hang out with friends. He deserved that baseline effort – at a minimum! I was short on time with a small baby needing my attention almost constantly, so I worked quickly. “Let’s see if I can get primped up in 15 minutes!” I thought to myself. And I did it. My husband appreciated the effort, and showered me with kisses upon his arrival home, which I was eager to receive and to return. It was great. So little investment for such a welcome return! So I decided to share my little 15 minute tip to my friends through the blog, hoping it might give them inspiration to do the same (or something else thoughtful and loving) for the hard-working men in their lives. Writing it down gave me more encouragement to get out of my new baby funk. Actually doing it made me feel better about myself. But mostly I saw it as one simple and sweet expression of love for my husband! Fast forward a year later.

A couple of nights ago, the Feminist Mormon Housewives facebook group got a hold of a link to my blog. And with my 15 minutes suggestion all hell broke loose! I was called a shallow chattel, a sex-toy, and that my suggestion smacked of shallow consumerism. I was stupid, incapable of critical-thinking, I was single-handedly taking down all the advances made by feminists! Oh and don’t forget - despite my lengthy and generous 15 minutes of effort toward perfection, my husband might still leave me anyways! 

Seriously, ladies? What. A. Load. Of. Hogwash. 

That blog post really should have been a non-issue. The fact that there was such a frenzied and serious reaction to such a simple suggestion of one way I was caring for my spouse, suggests to me that many-a-feminist’s hyper-sensitivity to gender-related issues, have simultaneously clouded basic common sense and critical thinking in their minds.

Let me make it clear that I also consider myself to be a feminist, of sorts. Where there is true chauvinism, I’m in for the smack down. In countries, or situations where women are actually sex slaves, or beaten or raped by their husbands and family members, in cultures where a woman’s voice is not recognized in the voting booth, at home, or during childbirth – I am in for the fight. I recognize the need for change, most often in other countries around the world, and sometimes here in the United States as well. All men and women should find it a worthy cause to help overcome injustice.

However, too many feminists spend their lives, their energy and time obsessing over a crap load of perceived oppression of women. Dwelling, out loud with social media, in a constant state of focus on petty perceived oppressions – say for example, Sandra Fluck not having her birth control paid for by you – we create victims instead of empowered women. These feminists have missed the greatest goal of feminism of all – to empower women.

Where there has been true oppression, we should recognize it and validate the woman. When needed, counseling can help to alleviate suffering of women who have been horribly or wrongfully treated. But why focus on the ways women have been or are victims, endlessly? It is counterproductive to their empowerment and societal change. 

Because of the efforts of so many diligent women (and men!) we now have a society where women have more of a choice and voice than ever before. With the advent of technology, women have access to information and other people like never before. We have the right to vote, the opportunity to work inside or outside the home if we choose, the opportunity to get an education, and on and on and on. It’s embarrassing to me to hear so many highly educated women complain, “We are victims!! Look at what these mean boys said/did/suggested to us!!” It brings me back to 2nd grade, when boys and girls still had cooties.

My personal brand of feminism is this: Women are not victims of patriarchy. Women are not victims of their bodies. Women are only victims of their own poor choices. If a person seeks true empowerment, it can be found in acquiring knowledge of things as they truly are, and virtuous purposeful living. The most effective way to affect change in society at large, is to teach and live truth and virtue in the home.

What does the angry, liberal “We are victims!” Feminist mentality looks like compared to my personal application of my brand of feminism? Here are a few examples: 


  • Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: The way women are portrayed in the media is making every woman hate her body, become anorexic/bulimic, and brainwashing everyone into thinking girls are just sex toys! The media is out to get us all!!


“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: We choose to not keep a TV in ourhome. This drastically limits our exposure to inappropriate ads and commercials from entering our home. The media we do allow in our home (movies, youtube videos, books, magazines, music, etc.) portray women in ways we find to be respectful and appropriate. We do not let pornography of any kind in to our home – whether through images or words. We do not keep a scale in our home. Weight gain or loss of either spouse is not mentioned or complimented. However, eating nutritious foods and exercising for health are highly encouraged. We do not spend copious amounts of time shopping for clothes in malls or other places that are hotspots for highly sexualized ads. We purposefully avoid shopping and supporting stores that we believe promote inappropriate messages about sexuality (i.e. Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, etc.) My husband and I make love regularly to help us connect to each other and to keep him (and me!) satisfied sexually. (Sorry if that freaked anyone out. It’s true though, and I think it totally applies. Real love-making trumps empty passion and pornography every time.) We plan to raise our children to be modest in dress and action, and to save sex for marriage so that it can be enjoyed in the fullest most loving way. We also make sure to provide a home where our children feel safe and loved, so they don't feel the need to starve themselves or binge eat for control of their lives.


  • Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: You should only ever do something for your spouse or other people, if YOU feel like doing it.  Your value is lessened whenever you choose to give/serve for any other reason than personally wanting to give/serve. Service as it relates to appearance and sexual relations by a woman for a man is of no value. It is only influenced by deceitful commercialism that says that women are objects. Any service should always be reciprocated perfectly evenly. 


“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: Short story - I chose wisely, now I treat kindly. Longer story - Before I got married, I was a tight-legged woman, as was Squire a tight-legged man. Sex only came after a legally binding contract was forged, a commitment to cherish each other through thick and thin was made, and we both promised to God that we would strive to follow Him and serve each other. I chose to marry a man, not a boy. In fact, I chose to marry a man who had all the qualities and more that I’d always dreamed I might find in a husband. While I dreamt of marrying a great man, I kept busy by developing qualities in myself that I would also want to see in him. I think that helped me snag him! My cooking skills didn’t hurt either. ;) Because I trust him and love him, I constantly make a purposeful effort to serve him and love him according to his personal love languages with as much energy, spunk and enthusiasm as I have in me! I serve without expecting reciprocal service from him. But, because he is a good man and because his needs are met by me, I find that he serves me endlessly and happily. We serve each other both when it is convenient and inconvenient, when we feel like serving and when we don’t. Neither one of us feels like we are subservient when we choose to serve the other, we simply love each other more. My actions tend to be the most influential on the atmosphere of my home, and on the moods of my husband and son.


  • Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: If a woman chooses to pause or forgo her career or schooling to deliver/care for a baby or to support her husband through schooling, she is being oppressed!!


“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: I believe that every woman and man should be as well-educated and informed about all her/his choices as (s)he possibly can. In general, I think it is unwise for anyone to stop schooling without getting their degree – especially if there is debt associated with your schooling. Because then, you have debt that accumulates interest, and you don’t have that piece of paper that says that while your debt is up, so also is your value in the marketplace. However, there are legitimate reasons for pausing or forgoing some schooling or a career. Because a woman chooses that for herself, does not necessarily mean she is being oppressed. It could very well mean that she has protected her ability to conceive children biologically, or her sanity by avoiding doing too much at once, or that she avoided going in to debt, or that if she wants to be a stay-at-home mother that she has more energy to care for her children as she is younger. Husbands and wives need to talk about these decisions together to figure out what is best for their particular situation. I chose to pause my goal of grad school (for the next 20 years or so . . . ) and wrote about that decision here. Huge choices like those should be made very thoughtfully and prayerfully, with humility and the best interest of the whole family at the center of consideration. With God’s help, we can choose wisely – and that can even mean a rough year or two for a family with a new baby, or even a husband taking time off! Everyone must make those choices for themselves. But, regardless of degrees or careers, every person should be striving to educate themselves to the best of their ability in practical skills, in the goings on in the world, in effective household management, in hobbies and interests, in everything! Life should be a constant striving to develop our minds and gifts. Whether a woman (or a man) achieves all of her/his educational/career goals in the timeline he/she originally planned, or at all, is not as important as her/his desire to live a life of passion for learning and growth. All lifelong learners are empowered.

Obviously, these are my personal applications of my brand of feminism. I am in no way suggesting that every person has to live as I choose to live. I only share to illustrate the difference between a victim attitude, and an empowered attitude. While the victim attitude tends to make a lot of people feel dumpy about their situation or just really angry at everybody who doesn’t see the world exactly the way they do, the empowered attitude serves to bless your life and the lives of those around you. Angry feminists would do themselves and everyone else good, to implement positive change within the walls of their own homes, and to save their anger and energy for true oppression and injustice. (Not, for example, this silly little blog post of mine.)

If we want to see changes in the world, in society, and in our own personal lives - we can change that reality by our choices. We can rant, rave and rally to change the things we hate most about society, but unless we are reflecting the change we most want to see within the walls of our own home by our own decisions, our efforts will be futile. THE MOST deep and meaningful changes to society and the world, come from within the walls of our own homes. If we teach our children to be empowered by making choices based on truth and virtue (rather than negative social customs), we will have given them all they need to live a life free from victimization and oppression – all while avoiding one, ourselves.

37 comments:

  1. Good post. I have some feminist friends and it certainly does seem like their objective is to point out the "errors" and "victims" all around us. And while certainly there are real issues (women and men SHOULD receive equal pay for the same duties, be considered equally for employment positions, etc) that deserve real political action sometimes, attacking individuals who they do not know for CHOICES they make, when those choices are not forced, is just silly and counterproductive like you said.

    Sometimes I do have an issue with how (even perceived) women in the LDS church sometimes feel like they don't have an option in working or staying home when they have kids, because "it goes against God's way." I don't like it because many women feel compartmentalized.

    The same thing kind of applies to your last point about dropping out of college if you have a kid, or supporting your husband getting his degree, because it's "more important" that a man has a degree than a woman having a degree (so sexist!). I think as long as women don't make these decisions because "that's what a good Mormon woman should do" but because it is what they are personally convicted of and prayerfully decided with their husband and family and God (and not just their husband), then it's the right choice for them. And therein lies all the difference.

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    1. Katelyn –

      You bring up some interesting points. I actually believe the wage gap is generally used as tool to promote victimization by liberal feminists. When data saying that women receive less money than men for equal work is given a closer look, it actually reveals that women’s lifestyle choices are the main reason for the gap. Men generally choose more readily to work in less desirable areas, they work longer hours, more overtime. Whereas women choose to limit their hours, take more breaks for family/maternity leaves, etc. Women may choose to leave the workforce for an extended period of time before re-entering. That would put her in a lower income bracket simply because time worked in the same job, or years of experience make her less marketable than a male counterpart who never left his job for any extended period of time. Because women choose to live a more comfortable family-focused lifestyle, their pay is naturally not as much.

      I do believe there can be a barrier at times for businesses to hire women. Women are riskier to hire because they often do get pregnant and take maternity leave, and then sometimes don’t come back to work or work only on reduced hours. When a business hires a woman of childbearing age, they run the risk of investing in her training, paying for her higher health care costs, and then seeing her leave. It is only natural to assume that they would be more cautious about hiring women. The only solutions to this quandary are these: that all or the majority of women stop asking for reduced hours or quitting their jobs after they have babies, or that the government gets super involved, subsidizes everything or puts strict laws on companies to force them to hire equally, etc. As a stay-at-home by choice, there is no way I would sacrifice the well-being of my own family, or my own happiness and lifestyle, for a cause like that. And that second suggestion doesn’t really help either. It just means companies close down because they become bankrupt, or they hire fewer people in general, or that we all get taxed more heavily. I’m certainly not down for that! So, while this is a bummer it is something I feel has to be – at least with my conservative political views of small government.

      And where women might be discriminated against sometimes, a lot of affirmative action policies have actually given women a huge leg up over their male counterparts, to where they do not even have to have as much merit to be accepted into the same school or program. Girls in Squire’s medical school did not score as high as he or his other male counterparts did on the MCAT or their GPA’s and still got in with ease, thanks to affirmative action. I know in construction, because of government laws, women and minority business owners get huge perks in the realm of bidding for jobs. Then they get paid more than their male business owners would have for their bids. Anywho, I don’t like affirmative action because I believe it also contributes to a victim mentality, by taking the focus away from merit. I know some minorities and women are haunted by the thought that they don’t know whether or not they got in to a program because of their merit or because of their special status. Some have an ugly entitlement attitude and laziness about their work, because they know they can get in to a program on less work. Messed up. Not empowering. But, where a shady company may not hire a woman as readily for a job, the difference is more than made up by overly compensatory affirmative action programs.

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    2. As for the even perceived issue on the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom thing in the church . . . I think if women make their decision with God as their guide, then no matter what they choose they should have peace in their heart for their choice. http://howdyhepworths.blogspot.com/2012/01/great-sahm-vs-working-mom-debate.html
      I have gotten a lot of rude comments from people outside our faith who believe I do nothing by being a stay-at-home mom, but I don’t let it bother me too much, because I know I am doing what God wants me to do. If we make choices based on the influence of the spirit, we should share those experiences with others to help make the focus on making this choice through careful revelation. As an LDS woman, I still think we should all remember that regardless of what work path we choose, our primary responsibility is to care for and nurture our children, and that ultimately we are held accountable for that.

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    3. Thanks for the long replies! You bring up some valid points on all accounts. They are some complex issues for sure. And what the best solutions are? Well, I don't know.

      I would love to discuss with you sometime what you thoughts are about women staying at home who financially can't afford to do so, who receive government assistance, and how if that is the better choice (or not) how that fits into the idea of provident living and the idea that the children should have their mother in the home.

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    4. Hi. I am interested in opinions on the topic of women staying at home who cannot afford to do so, etc. I learned about this excellent blog as a member of DrLaura.com, and I'm a divorced mother of three who called Dr. Laura a few years ago for advice on whether or not I should home school my children while we lived in subsidized housing and were receiving food stamps and $380 per month child support garnished from their deadbeat dad's wages. She couldn't say yes or no because I didn't have the option of moving in with my parents, which is what she always suggests for women like me who didn't chose wisely. My main motivation was to give my children 100% of myself and focus on Godly principles, plus I couldn't find a decent day shift job in the economically depressed town where we were living at the time and I had no hands on help from friends or family. Feel free to e-mail me at thepositivedynamic@gmail.com so I can share the outcome.

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    5. Katelyn -

      Here is my opinion on getting government assistance. It is there as a TEMPORARY safety net to help families or individuals through a rough patch after they have done all they can do to help themselves. It is good that it exists.

      That being said, I personally feel that too many people take advantage of programs and freebees where they don't need to, or where they can - with a little discomfort, sometimes a lot! - to make it through on their own. I wrote this post, assuming you were talking about struggling couples making it on one income. Were you referring to single women with children? My parents had some very very scary and difficult financial times when we were little. But, my parents were both so committed to the idea that my mother would continue to be home with us, that they made that work - or rather my dad worked his butt off doing every possible thing he could to bring in income, despite a horrible failing economy in Southern California, and my mom was very very careful in how she managed our household on what little money we did have (for a long stretch, only $20 a week for groceries to feed a family of 5). Because of my parents example, I am much more inclined to think that making things work on a one-income family with smart choices and a lot of hard work is achievable.

      I wrote this post to give empowering ideas to families (though many of these ideas would work for single-parent homes too) to manage their home economies the best they can, so that they can make their choice work - hopefully without government assistance programs. http://howdyhepworths.blogspot.com/2012/09/50-ideas-to-maximize-your-household.html

      I think every family should prayerfully address the issue of provident living/receiving government assistance and balancing that with having children raised by the mother. I know for our family, we have felt it important to avoid government programs wherever possible.

      For example, where many med school students get on medicaid and food stamps throughout medical school, we have chosen to take out a little extra student loan wise to pay for private health insurance and food on our own. We will be in more debt than most, especially paying out-of-state tuition, but it is what we feel good about. We would rather be responsible for ourselves than to pass our cost of living on to the taxpayers. We live frugally and we do several things to make money on the side in a way that works for our family dynamic. And we have big plans to tackle our student loan debt and kill it within 3-4 years after Squire starts actually making money. We will wait to buy a house until after all our student loan debt is paid off. I realize we are pretty hard core, but we like to think we are living the changes we would like to see in our country, despite some personal disadvantages.

      Our story told, I have some friends who feel just the opposite than I do about government assistance. It's really not my place to judge. I can only speak for myself and my family and what we have prayerfully chosen to do for ourselves.

      It's probably good to mention too that the Proclamation on the family does mention that "other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation," meaning I think that though having a mother stay home is the gold standard, there are some special cases when that cannot always be achieved - though that is the ideal.

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    6. The Positive Dynamic -

      I don't know the outcome and how you made things work with your situation (you can feel free to email me with your story at abitbackward at gmail dot com if you like), but I think as single mother you have a situation where sacrifices to the ideal would necessarily need to be made. There will probably also necessarily be some dependence on government assistance for a time, but I don't think it need be permanent with a move, a little more education, a new career, and other changes (personally, I think a President Mitt Romney could help - but to each her own! Haha. ; ) ) Though there are ways to work schedules around children and such to make the situation as ideal as possible. Just my 2-cents of rambling here, without knowing how you made it work.

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    7. Thanks for the reply Jami! That's exactly what I was referring to. We have a lot of students in our ward who use government assistance to have the wife stay home with the kiddos and not have the student work so as to do better in school. On one hand I see how it helps avoid debt (part of provident living!), but I also understand your take in not relying on the government and being the change you hope to see.

      As my husband is now starting graduate school, he is working part-time teaching at the college, and taking only two classes. The rest we've been making up with student loans, which I don't love since Josh already has a ton in student loan debt. However, we hope to have him through grad school in about 1.5 years and then get into a PhD program, where he'll no longer have to take out loans as they will cover tuition and give him a stipend. Yeah! But, I'm not going to lie and say we aren't hoping to get back on government assistance in the time being to help cover the cost of food and keep the student loan debt to a minimum. Plus, no one has insurance right now. It's a mess.

      But, I've had people blatantly attack my decision to stay home and use government assistance at the same time (since I am capable of working), even though my husband has had a full-time job for the last 2 years, just making very little as a new teacher at a private Catholic School. We've used the assistance to help pay for food and heat our home and give my kids health insurance, but it hasn't paid for everything and we aren't exactly living the life of luxury here! It's helping us get by until we can pay down our debt (and thus has more access to our income).

      I guess the real conflict comes to me that prophets/leaders of the church command you to have children and to not postpone that decision, but never say how to provide, other than scrimp and save. They also have never said not to use government assistance. So, I was curious what your opinion was on the matter. SO thanks for obliging.

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    8. Katelyn - Sometimes, when income in a family is so low it is actually more cost effective for the mother to stay home to care for the children than to work outside the home with her husband! With the cost of daycare, transportation and clothing for work, more expensive food bills because someone isn't there to prepare them, more expensive everything because they have little to no time to do so . . . It can indeed be more expensive! To each their own. Mean people are annoying.

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    9. Thanks for your reply, JamiLeigh, and thanks for sharing your story, Katelyn. Here's what happened: I stuck it out homeschooling the kids and working online as a virtual administrative assistant for two years, but the strain of no one being willing or able to help me (along with the diagnosis of a health problem) made it all too much for me.

      So,I moved to a larger city where my virtual assistant client lived, enrolled the kids in public school, and after some trial and error got a great job that's exactly 8 minutes from the house. I don't have to worry about day-care because my oldest son is now 14 and they behave very well while they wait a couple of hours for me to get home. Also, I've found more positive and supportive friends in my new city.

      Basically, I had to get through the tough times with faith in God and a positive, hopeful outlook until I found a better way. Thanks, again for your terrific blog. I do my best and I think Dr. Laura would agree that I am my kids mom!

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    10. My real name is Joanna, by the way....

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  2. ok i TOTALLY agree with you. if my husband worked from home, and i worked outside of the house, when i came home, it would really mean a lot to me if he was showered, shaved, and in something other than sweatpants! why would we implement a double-standard here? of COURSE the same thing applies to women. i don't think it's because of some sick societal obligation, but just think about it this way: if i went to work outside the house, i would dress to impress. why? because i care about how i present myself and i care about my coworkers around me. what's it saying about how i feel about my husband if i dont even take the time to shower or brush my teeth for him after he's spent his day busting his butt at work for our family, while wearing stuffy biz-cash(sp? lol) clothes?! i know it's hard to keep neat when babies are pooping and barfing on us all day, but really, when i can, if i'm being honest here, I feel better about MYSELF when i look great. what's more feminist than that?
    sorry for the novel, i just couldn't agree more with this post. so over "feminists" not embracing TRUE feminism.

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    1. Thanks for your comment and for following my blog on GFC! Reading common sense is so refreshing.

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    2. This perfectly sums up my feelings! I want my husband to know that his opinion matters most, but if I take more care to look nice for friends and coworkers than for him I am sending the opposite message! Cleaning myself up even though he's the only person who will see me that day lets him know that he is important to me, and if he feels like he is important to me then he won't need to find that validation somewhere else.

      And Jami, great response article. I love your definition of real feminism and the illustrations of your choices.

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  3. Amen sista'! I spent the last couple days thinking about this so I could write something on the last post, but you said it all better than I could've, so amen!

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  4. Go Jami!
    I could not be more impressed with your well thought out blog post. Your mother and I have raised you well. You have always been willing to stand up for truth, even when it wasn't popular. Feminism for many has taken on an unhealthy flavor and fanaticism. Thanks for being true to yourself.
    Love, Dad

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    1. Thank you for making your convictions known ithrough all your actions, and for marrying my awesome Mom! :) I Love you, Dad.

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  5. I totally agree with you. I find it so hypocritical to hold such mottos as "pro-choice", "Be True to Yourself", and "Don't Let Anyone Oppress You", then oppressively berate, wish your freedom of choice gone, and DON'T want you to be true to yourself when you want to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom, etc.

    I was recently at a potluck with Josiah's department at his new job. All but one of them were women, and as soon as they found out that I was a Stay-At-Home-Mom, I could see them looking at me differently. They didn't know any of my achievements or education. All of a sudden, I was just a lazy mom who sat around at home with her kids all day. They didn't talk to me much, and didn't listen when I spoke.

    Side Note: If it were really that easy, wouldn't there be more people doing it? Come on. MOST people are WAAAAY too lazy and would opt for staying at home if they just got to hang out and do whatever they wanted.

    I watched the way they interacted with their children, the way they talked about them, heard the discussions of their broken homes. One couple in particular sounded and acted as though they didn't like their children at all. It made me glad that my husband and I had talked about what we wanted before we got married and had children and that he was supportive of me staying at home to raise our children.

    Interestingly enough, about thirty minutes before we went home, it got out that I had graduated with a high GPA from a prestigious college and run my own highly successful business for 13 years. Sadly, THIS is what made them respect me. THIS is what got them talking to me, interested in what I had to say, and looking at me differently. Not the fact that I was a mother, caring for my children, and CEO of the business of my home.

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    1. Katie - That is messed up and just downright irritating, and yes - so hypocritical. I had a similar thing happen to me when Squire and I went to a cocktail party at the medical school dean's house. One lady offered to help me get a job after I told her I was a stay at home mom. Another woman gave me nasty looks and just stopped talking with me. At a different party this Summer at one of Squire's professor's houses, I talked with his professor's wife. She was a stay at home mom, which I could tell she had chosen for herself, but she was so apologetic and embarassed about it. Both experiences reminded me that I need to make sure I am bold and positive when I talk about what I choose to do with most of my time! We do not need to feel ashamed of our choices to care for our families! We are women, hear us roar! Haha.

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  6. Thanks for this post Jami! I like the way you expressed it, about victimism vs. empowerment. I definitely agree that there are so many things we can do to improve the world and the best things are done within our own homes. I always appreciate your viewpoints and the thought you put into them. What's better is it gets me thinking and trying to figure out my own feelings about these things. I'm glad I follow your blog!

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    1. Thank you for reading, Tricia! I'm glad my posts make you think. :)

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  7. Very thoughtful post. However, I think that your statements regarding eating disorders are incorrect. Firstly, the media does contribute to eating disorders. A good example of this is the pro ana movement where women can access "thinspiration" photos to feed their eating disorders. These pictures are of celebrities, ads, etc. Should the portrayal of women in the media be all of women of a healthy weight, it would be harder to have such a large stock of "thinspiration" photos. So, not only can the media contribute to an eating disorder, but it can also fuel the fire and exasperate the problem. Secondly, even the most loving a safe home cannot prevent an eating disorder. There is so much more that is involved than just the environment. It is very complex (outside sources, trauma, even genetics!) Yes, it is very good to have a safe and loving home. Everyone should strive for this! :) While it is very good to have a home like you are describing, an eating disorder resulting in an extremely unsafe or unloving home is sometimes a factor but rarely the root of an eating disorder.
    That is all I have to say about that. I don't even want to touch the feminist subject. I wish that on the scale of "conservative feminist" to "liberal feminist" we could just be a little less heated and a little more respectful. I don't think of myself as a feminist but rather a female who is just trying to live her best life using God as her compass.

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    1. I recognize that media does influence this problem. That is why I suggested that our very very lean media diet - no tv, and careful choices elsewhere could be a huge influence for good. That coupled with a family who NEVER comments on weight, and a father who never says anything negative about his children's bodies (especially his daughters) . . . It may not completely eliminate the chance of a child having an eating disorder but I would think it would severely reduce the risk. You still don't think?

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    2. Oh yes, all those things would definitely reduce the risk. Negative body talk is a hard habit to break and especially about oneself! I commend you for taking these preventative measures. A lean media diet is also a very good thing but some of these other influences that begin and feed (no pun intended) an eating disorder no parent can predict and protect a child fully from. It was your statement of "We also make sure to provide a home where our children feel safe and loved, so they don't feel the need to starve themselves or binge eat for control of their lives" that made me respond because it sounds you are implying that an unsafe and unloving home spawns an eating disorder. That thought process is a little naive because there are numerous extraneous factors that contribute to this sad mental illness. One of the saddest things about being a parent is not being able to protect your child from every harmful thing. No matter how hard we try the best we can do is provide that loving and safe home that you described and be there to catch them when they fall and when bad things do happen.

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    3. Yeah, I totally just lumped all the sexuality and body image things into that one paragraph. I saw that as a whole unit. Not very well explained on my part, so I'm sorry for that!

      I agree that we cannot protect our children from everything - and that is a sad truth of life - but there is so much that we can do! And that is what I like to focus on, because I don't want to spend my time worrying about what I couldn't do to protect my child, but I want to make sure I can say that I did everything I could. That's how I have peace in my life!

      When I said "safe and loving home" it was not as accurate a picture of the type of home and parenting that I believe can reduce the risk of an eating disorder. I know for many with eating disorders, the can start from feeling like they cannot control their situation. I would think that could stem from parenting styles that are excessively permissive and apathetic to the child, parenting styles that are loving but also too excessively permissive, or from parenting styles that are authoritarian, domineering and apathetic. The best parenting style is authoritative, when children have boundaries, but are informed and aware of the consequences and parents are loving, not apathetic. That parenting style produces the best chances for a child's success all around. Each of the other bad styles is associated with their own set of negative outcomes. Thank you, Child development class! Haha.

      I also know that a big contributor to eating disorders can be sexual abuse. There are things we can do to prevent abuse, like not having our children stay the night at others' houses for sleepovers, and being careful about who we allow to spend time with our children - especially people we know and think we can trust! But where children are abused, I think the next best thing a parent can have done to set their child up in a good situation, is to have an open healthy atmosphere in discussing sex and anything and everything potentially uncomfortable so that children feel comfortable telling a parent if they have been touched inappropriately. That way appropriate counseling can be set up right away to help the child deal with what undoubtedly will be a life long struggle.

      My brother who just graduated with his masters in counseling told me that a big warning sign of a potential eating disorder is a child who paints with their own poop on the wall, as it signals their need to manipulate and control things that come in and out of their bodies. Not always, but it should be a red flag that we notice! I thought that was interesting and potentially helpful so I shared that too.

      Anonymous, your comment has obviously gotten me thinking! Haha. Tell me, from what you know about eating disorders and have learned, if there is anything else you think a parent could do to contribute to healthy body habits for our children! I think this is an important discussion.

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    4. I thought you would enjoy this article Jami http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2013-06-when-your-mother-says-shes-fat

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  8. I think you grossly misrepresented what feminists stand for.

    Feminists don't suggest that women are victims of oppression because they choose to stay home; feminists believe that women are victims of a system that doesn't reward them for that. Raising children is a task and an immensely important one in our social system. Feminists that believe that staying at home has negative connotations aren't saying that people should stop staying at home, but instead think that it should be made a more viable and visible option through perhaps paying for the labor or uplifting it in the media to make it more revered and understood. It's all about valuing stay-at-home moms the way they deserve to be valued, not saying that these parents should be back in the work force the day after they have a kid.

    Feminists aren't saying that doing something for your spouse is wrong; feminists believe that feeling pressured to be "perfect" or go the extra mile without ever having that kind of effort in return is wrong. In typical gender-normative relationships, women are the ones expected to do the extra stuff to make their spouses happy. Consider, for example, the women who rush home to cook dinner for their husbands even though both of them spent the whole day at work. Is that fair? Or think about women in your situation -- you were working hard taking care of your child all day, is it fair that you feel compelled to look a certain way for your husband on top of that? If it makes you feel good, that's an important thing for you to do, but if you got no benefit out of it, then that's what feminists should be objecting to.

    As for harmful messages in the media, it sounds like you and feminists are on the same page. Someone can choose the route you've taken to try to minimize the negative images of women in the media, but that doesn't change the fact that there are probably men who objectify you every day. Are you comfortable with the idea that when you're walking around town with your husband there could be men watching the way your butt moves and imagining having sex with you because of it? Even if you close your eyes to it, that kind of stuff still happens and in its worst scenarios, it can even turn into sexual violence. That's why feminists are upset about the way women are portrayed in the media. It puts pressure on women to look a certain expected way even if they don't have TVs because it's easier to get a job if you're "pretty."

    It sounds like you're just what you say you are: a feminist. But don't go lumping the word "feminism" with ideas that it just doesn't stand for.

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    1. Nicole –

      I respectfully disagree with pretty much everything you’ve said here. Your assertion that I am “grossly misrepresenting what feminism stands for”, and your suggestion that I don’t go “lumping the word ‘feminism’ with ideas that it just doesn’t stand for,” are pretty silly. Here’s why:

      First off, this post is called, “My Brand of Feminism: I AM NOT A VICTIM.” This was a declaration of MY personal brand of feminism and how I believe women truly become empowered. I did not just pull those statements representing “some” “too many” or “angry” feminists out of thin air. I have heard statements like these over and over and over again from self-proclaimed feminists over the course of my life. I was talking about the way, “too many” real, self-proclaimed feminists talk about issues related to gender. It was not a misrepresentation of feminism, but a discussion about the hypocrisy clearly evident in “too many” feminists.

      Secondly, I do not agree with these so-called enlightened and correct feminists that say that, “feminists believe that women are victims of a system that doesn't reward (stay-at-home moms) for that.” As I said in my post, I believe that women are only victims of their own poor choices. I think the suggestion that women should be paid for staying home with their children is flat out ridiculous:

      #1 No government entity or anybody else could pay me as much as I am worth to my family as a stay-at-home mother. I am simply worth too much.
      #2 I would think this should go without saying, but not all rewards in life are monetary.
      #3 I believe most stay-at-home mothers, like myself, would view such a suggestion as silly because they do not separate their personal earnings from those of their husband. Perhaps more than any other family structure, Stay-at-home moms with bread-winning dads, see themselves as being co-contributors in a co-operative family unit.(The same would be true of a family where the man stayed at home and woman worked.) The money earned by the breadwinner of the family belongs to the whole family, not just the earner, as do the savings earned and other countless benefits of having a stay-at-home parent, belong to the whole family unit.

      As for the kinder recognition in the media, that would be nice. Sure. But no one will ever convince everyone to believe the same as they do. Saying that feminists don’t suggest that women should be back in the workforce after they have their babies, is the gross misrepresentation of a large swathe of feminists, I think.

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    2. As for your suggestion about the spouses, I have heard that all before! I am not concerned with what is fair. I am only concerned with what I can control – myself and my actions. Last time I checked we live in a country and a culture where women can choose who they marry. No one is forcing women to marry men they didn’t choose. Every woman should be wise about choosing a man who will treat her right (and this I believe starts in the bedroom, or rather, in the staying out of the bedroom – until marriage of course! ;) ;) ;) ) And then, common sense says that if you want a good marriage you should be giving and loving to your spouse, and your spouse to you. But, as we have yet to find a way to control everybody and their actions yet, the only course of action is to be the best we can be. Ironically, it is exactly my not expecting fair treatment in return and taking responsibility for my own actions in my marriage that yields amazing love and service from my husband. You get what you give in life. Serving others selflessly and with love in one’s own heart, is always of benefit to the giver. Common sense that I have seen and heard too many feminists miss in their discussions of marriage and life in general.

      On your final point here, I must say that I choose to reduce my risk of being sexually assaulted by knowing how to damage someone who attacks me, and knowing common risk factors (like not being aware in isolated locations, not being in places where I don’t “feel” right, by not getting drunk at parties and grinding my body up against men I don’t know in a dark club, etc.) I like to think I do a service to many men (at least the ones who want to have virtuous thoughts) to help them avoid looking at my body in inappropriate ways by dressing it modestly in public. You know, keeping my cleavage, midriff, knees and shoulders covered, and also avoiding clothing that is too tight or see through.

      **Common sense news flash - MEN LIKE SEX AND NAKED WOMEN! It is the most basic tenant of biological survival and success that men (and women!) and all animals really, like to have sex. But where men don't have as much invested in the process (they don't have a limited number of eggs, and they don't get pregnant) women really are the ones who control how a lot of that goes down. True in nature, true with humans. Random tangent done.**

      Anyways, I act modestly and appropriately as well. After I’ve taken those steps, as I mentioned above I don’t have any way of controlling other people’s thoughts or actions. They will think what they will think and that’s really not my problem. But, I like to think that if every mother and father took the time to teach their boys to respect women and themselves to strive to live a virtuous life that sexual assault would largely be ameliorated from our society. By the same token, I like to think that if every mother and father took the time to teach their daughters to respect men and themselves by dressing and acting modestly, pornography would largely be ameliorated from our society as well. So, I do that. And by so doing, I am empowered, I am not a victim. And I really do make a difference to society.

      Again I reiterate, I AM NOT A VICTIM. That is the main philosophical point that I don’t eat from the hands of feminists, with a different brand of feminism than my own.

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    3. There was a lot in those last couple of comments, so I'm going to focus on two particular ideas: sexual abuse and the treatment of stay-at-home mothers.

      In terms of sexual abuse, is the way that we handle it really fair? Is it fair to suggest that women be the ones to ward off sexual abuse? That's like saying the right way to not get murdered is to never say anything that might make someone else angry. We would never look at murder victims and say "Well, he made that other guy angry, so he should have seen it coming..." If we wouldn't treat murder victims that way, why should we ask all women to avoid doing anything that might lead someone else to think of her sexually? Beyond that, it's impossible to do that. There are people out there who are turned on by modesty. By dressing modestly, you are making some men fantasize about taking all of your modest clothes off of you. If we heard of someone who was raped because of her modest dress, would we really think the right thing to do is turn around and suggest that she dresses more immodestly? Of course not.

      There's no way that I could always avoid all of the "warning signs" for a rape scenario. It's impossible to always be home by the time the sun sets. It's impossible to never walk alone. It's impossible to keep everyone in the entire world from ever being attracted to me. It's impossible to never talk to men I don't know.

      Additionally, most rapes are not the result of interactions with strangers. Most rapes are the acts of friends or family. Does that mean the right way to avoid being raped is to never trust another man again, including my father?

      For all of these reasons, feminists stand up and say that men need to take responsibility for sexual violence, including its portrayal in the media. By changing the culture of how men treat women and how women treat men, the likelihood of sexual violence will dramatically decrease. As much as anyone would like to think that we can teach our kids better than that, every parent thinks that and rape still happens. The influences of society drastically outweigh the influences of any single person.

      Now, let's move on to stay-at-home moms.

      The feminist movement doesn't suggest that being a stay-at-home mom should have the incentive of payment. Instead, it wants to legitimize that choice by offering payment so that everyone, regardless of their family's financial situation, has the choice to raise their children at home for the first years of their life. You have chosen to stay home with your children. Wouldn't you still want to do that even if your husband lost his job? It's not fair to only offer the benefits of having a mother at home to people who have the financial luxury to do so.

      If you want to be a different kind of feminist, no one should deny your ability to do so. But before you slam the feminist movement at large, make sure that you can adequately represent what the group stands for.

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    4. Nicole -

      I am a women with a voice and opinions. And I have every right to slam the feminist movement at large in whatever way I feel is right. Period.

      Your immodesty point about sexual assault is ridiculous. Dressing modestly, and purposefully not going to creepy places (while inebriated no less) will decrease your chances of being sexually assaulted. We'll just have to agree to disagree. You see women as victims more than I do. I think the points I made in my above post were all very good, especially about raising children to be respectful and virtuous. Change the family - change a nation.

      I don't believe government social programs are the fix for all social ills. I think that sort of misguided thinking is what has lowered our national credit rating twice in the last year, and has put us in over $16 trillion dollars of debt. Not all feminists believe what you are stating here. Feminists believe in lots of different approaches to fixing problems - not just one. Feminists come in all colors, shapes, sizes, political and religious affiliations. Liberal feminists are not the only ones with legitimate points to make. In fact - as I have obviously been stating throughout this blog post and its comments, I think the things they push for are most harmful and efficient in victim-making.

      If a woman wants to stay at home with her children, she should:

      #1: Marry (not just co-habitate or sleep with and become pregnant with) a hard-working, responsible man who is committed to that same family lifestyle.
      #2: Make sure that she and her husband have life insurance in place should one of them die.
      #3: Have children when they feel they are adequately prepared to deal with the financial imposition that children will naturally be. This one varies very much for every situation.
      #4: Be willing - and make - sacrifices of lifestyle, dwelling choice, etc. necessary to be able to afford to live on one income. Live within and even under budget.
      #5: Develop marketable skills that can bring in extra money for the family from home instead of outside the home.
      #6: Develop skills that increase the efficiency of the home economy.
      #7: Pray to God in gratitude for all the He gives.

      Everyone likes to talk about stay-at-home mothers as having the "financial luxury" to be able to do so. That may be true in a few cases. But, I think that most often it is a choice. I have seen it with my own family. My mom and dad had some very very rough financial times when we were all little. They buckled down and sucked it up - they didn't go to the government for a check, even though it meant moving to another state for work, living in a dinky little apartment, and eating from our food storage for a long long time.

      The government will never be able to save everyone from their own poor choices. And, it's ok for people to struggle from time to time. Sometimes people have to be big kids and do things they don't really like to do. That's just life, I'm sorry to say.

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    5. Interesting that Jami keeps talking about how her choices can protect her, and Nicole keeps trying to blame others (mostly men). It's not your fault if you are raped, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. And as for Nicole's comment about how most rape victims are assaulted by people they know, if everyone you know is aware that you've taken self defense classes, are a black belt, what have you, don't you think they'd be less likely to come after you in that way?

      And it drives me crazy when people say things like "It's not fair to only offer the benefits of having a mother at home to people who have the financial luxury to do so." Financial luxury hardly describes my childhood. My mom always said, "I'd rather raise my kids in the back of dad's truck than go to work," and while it never came to that, it was often close. We bought our clothes at the second hand store, we didn't go on expensive vacations, we drove old cars, mom built up our food storage when we could afford it and when we couldn't, we would live off the food storage. We went without a lot, but I'm so grateful that my mom was always there when I came home from school and there is no material thing worth giving that up. It's not about "financial luxury," it's about making a choice and then making it work.

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    6. Bekky - I couldn't agree more. The financial luxury kick everybody is endlessly on is silly. Yes, there are some stay-at-home moms who have the "luxury" to not have to penny pinch (though many still do - penny pinching or not, taking care of kids is hard hard work!), but they are far fewer and rarer than the ones who do have to make deliberate financial sacrifices to make it work. That is exactly why I wrote this blog post just yesterday! http://howdyhepworths.blogspot.com/2012/09/50-ideas-to-maximize-your-household.html :)

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  9. First of all, let me start by saying how sorry some women of my faith choose to belittle you so. I want to reassure you that those women certainly do not speak for all Mormon women, in fact, the LDS Faith encourages mothers to be home with their children unless financially obligated to be in the work force. The Faith also encourages wives and husbands to serve one another and lift each other up. Anyone who wants to look further into it can check out mormon.org.
    Anywho, I found this post on Dr. Laura's website and can I just say AMEN to it all! You echoed much of how I feel about the feminist agenda. Thanks for taking a stand for what you believe!

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    1. Thanks for your amen and your comment, Brooke! As a Mormon woman myself, I hear you about what our faith encourages. Unfortunately, little sub-groups like the FMH members have big problems with what is encouraged! For anyone out there who is not LDS and reading this, here is an official document from our church that you may be interested to read on the topic of families: https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng

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  10. I know that there's no point in arguing with any of you, I just want to have a more typical feminist side represented here since I feel like it was misrepresented in your post. I encourage everyone who commented to look into people who have stories to tell that are different from you own. Try reading the first-hand accounts of how hard it is to be a single mother whose husband died. Try reading the first-hand accounts of rape victims. You will see the patterns that I'm talking about. At a certain point, someone other than the people stuck in these tough situations are to blame and many of them are men (and many are women as well). But the issue isn't about individual men oppressing women, it's about a system that makes it unreasonably hard for women who are in trouble to get out of it.

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