Says Sara Landriault of Choice for Childcare: “I have been nominated for the “best feminist blog”, which totally confuses me because in my heart I am no feminist.
To put it totally bluntly, I am just me and I am very proud of that.”
When I was in high school I read ‘The War Against The Family’ by William Gairdner. It was one of the first political books I read and of all the controversial topics it broadsided one thing really stuck with me – that when the advocacy group REAL Women of Canada applied for the federal women’s groups funding they were turned down because they were “not promoting of womens rights”.
Who is anyone to tell women what it means to promote women’s rights?
When the Conservative government shifted that advocacy funding to concrete programs meant to promote women in Canada through shelters and other things it was a blow for equality. The paternalism of the Liberals in both assuming that Canadian women needed funding for their voice to be heard and their chauvanism – which deserves to be called misogynist – in presuming to choose for Canadian women what qualified as promoting their rights were finally ended.
Since then the Conservatives have restored the funding – I hope it wasn’t taken from the programs. But they have left a more lasting legacy on this field. For me, the most important accomplishment of this government is choice in childcare. I like economics in a bit of a nerdy way and because of economic arguments I was always going to prefer a child tax credit to a bureaucratic model. But that is such a small part of why it’s important. The Liberal plan was simply the paternalism of their advocacy funding done large. Beer and Popcorn is all I need to say – which just happens to be in Sara’s ‘about me’. And it’s more than just general paternalism. We haven’t gone from the dark days of male chauvanism straight into the light. I have this picture in my mind of the partial tragedy of what we call feminism. I see a bunch of good old boys gathered round, smoking cigars, they’re yakking and backslapping:
“Good work this week on the chauvanist front, lads!” – a portly red faced fellow in tails
“Aye! Just this morning I patronized the old gal – patted her on the back and said it sure was nice to come home to a clean house where I don’t have to worry about Important Happenings” – portlier and redder faced
“Well I ‘ave to admit I’ve been a tad remiss,” says a third, “I’ll get on it this very evening… lemme see, a bit of The Singular Importance Of What Men Do aught ‘a do the old trick, or just your standard letting her know raising up the kids is simple stuff that I’m proud to leave to her to do up on her pedestal”
The fourth man has been leaning back like a cucumber – cool. There’s a smart look on his face as he speaks his piece. “Gentlemen, we’ve got it good. The girls do the drudge stuff, we do the big stuff. But we can do better.” The others can hardly imagine this, giving involuntary jerks of their heads in his direction as he goes on. “Look boys, it’s simple – we take a lot of trouble puffing up the importance of what we do and running down the stay-at-home stuff and all I propose is that we get the women to do that for us too.”
And so modern feminism was born. A lot of good done I’m sure, although I’m too young to appreciate that, but there is an element to feminism that acts as though they just internalized the put-downs of the chauvanists and took it further. They despise stay-at-home moms far more than any male chauvanist ever did and they act as if the only important work is policing, firefighting, and big business. You know, what used to be known as man’s stuff. There are good reasons to dislike the idea of Sarah Palin as Vice-President but there are bad reasons too, and these “feminists” were all over that – mocking her for having been in a beauty pagent and for having had such well used reproductive organs. For some feminists, having five children made Sarah Palin too much a woman. Instead of fighting for both the freedom to achieve success in a career and for respect for more “traditional” roles they chose to honour the chauvanist slurs and assumed that equality had to mean making women more like men. Because men did the Great Things.
What did any of those things ever matter if nobody was choosing to have children? What does it matter to build a country if there’s nobody to build it for, and nobody who will keep building it? A woman or man who lives one life to the hilt can never have the same impact as one woman who has one child and sets in movement a thread that could be part of history for a thousand years. It’s incredible that anyone should ever look down on someone that does that.
That chauvanism trickled down to us with feminism. It was in the Liberal plan for childcare that would have taken the taxes of Canadian families and said “you can have that back if she puts the kids in our daycare program and does Real Work”. That is why someone who says “I am just me and I am very proud of that” is my choice for the kind of true feminism and real equality that Choice for Childcare stands for.