Privilege and Choice

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the writing I have been reading lately about motherhood. I love reading mom blogs, and there are so many good (and funny) ones out there. Sometimes, though, I feel like there is a voice missing in all the conversations about PTA fundraising, minivans, tantrums in restaurants, and leaning in and opting out. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, but something was nagging at me…a little thought in the back of my head that said “This is all awesome, but something is missing.”

And then I read something from Al Jazeera America. Just, go read it right now. (“OMG SHE READS AL JAZEERA SHE MUST BE A TERRORIST” say my Glen Beck-loving readers. Hahahaha, I don’t have any Glen Beck-loving readers.)

This article hit home for me SO much.

Second wave feminists made it possible for middle and upper class women to work outside the home. They got us civil rights, like equal educational opportunity, employment discrimination protections, and rights to fair treatment in the courts. They made it theoretically possible for women to have choices in their lives. And for that, we should be grateful. (Don’t get me started on people who shit on Second Wave feminists for not bringing on a feminist utopia. Have you seen Mad Men? I am glad I’m not living like that, aren’t you? Then thank a feminist.)

But the work left for feminism to do post-second-wave is to make it so that all women have enough economic stability that those choices are no longer just theoretical. So that women really are making choices based on their hearts, not their pocketbooks. Really choosing how to live your life–leaning in or opting out, going to college or going to work, SAHM or in-the-workforce mom–isn’t possible for every woman. Being a 20-year-old low-income mom with two kids? Yeah, your choices are going to be WAY more limited than mine were as a 20 year old, when I had parents able to pay for college, and no children of my own to take care of. I could go to a college back east and spend my free time playing in the pep band and drinking cheap vodka, because there were no kids waiting at home for me.

Which brings me back to that missing voice. I think the mom blogs that get the most attention tend to be women who are at least middle class, women like me who are writing from a place of privilege. Our lives aren’t perfect or easy, but they do give us the freedom to have time to write. And what we write about reflects our lives, as it should–we shouldn’t try to speak for others, that’s a recipe for disaster–and we lead lives where not every opportunity is open to us, but a hell of a lot more of them are than they are for poor women.

There ARE mom bloggers who are poor, but you have to seek them out. I wish the HuffPo’s and Upworthy’s of the world would pick them up more often. I think listening to their voices, understanding the particular flavor of their struggle, is important. And I am going to try to do a better job of sharing them on my Facebook page. To kick things off, check out this awesome blog post from a mom named Tara–it’s an oldie but a goodie.