Monday, February 13, 2012

Anti-Feminism: Could Sewing & Aprons Spell the End of the Feminist Movement?

Dictionary.com defines feminism as the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

Yesterday, I was given a link to this sewing website by a friend who was interested in the apron patterns. I found myself reading the comments, which I expected to be tips for making the aprons, but instead ended up being a politically charged debate about sewing, aprons and feminism.

This gem of a quote was taken from one of the comments, "As a feminist, I worked for years to get out from behind the apron and whilst they can be useful I am worried by the changes in domestic arrangements that may follow their re-introduction."

Yikes. The poor apron is being blamed for a regression in feminist ideals. That's a heavy burden for this practical garment. I always find it a bit ironic when women declare themselves to be feminists yet, in the same sentence, say more to repress their fellow women than Boss Hog did to skewer the Duke boys.

Give women some credit. We aren't going to throw an apron on and all of a sudden not care about equal rights.

In the same comment thread, someone else says, "the resurgence in sewing interest, at least online, often is accompanied by a disturbing attitude of retro nostalgia for a past that didn't exist, and one in which women didn't have basic rights." 

As a work-at-home mom, I've heard it all. Most people I know in real life don't know that I also have a freelance writing career. Small as it is, it's what I do besides mothering, home keeping and babysitting.

People assume I'm "only" a stay-at-home mom. Man, I hate putting the word "only" in there, as if being a stay-at-home mom is somehow less than any other choice a woman makes. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard from women who declare they could never be stay-at-home moms because they'd be too bored, I'd be vacationing in Bermuda right now. I've gotten my fair share of disrespect for being a stay-at-home mom. It happens. I don't really care. If I did, I'd have found a job outside the home years ago.

I've noticed over the years that it's trendy for women to act incapable in the kitchen or with home tasks. "I can't cook. I burn water," some poised and polished TV host will say to the latest celebrity chef. People buy the sticky stuff to fasten Cub Scout or Girl Scout patches onto uniforms because they "can't sew".  They toss clothes in the Goodwill box because they need minor repairs (which you shouldn't do, by the way.) It's kind of a twisted version of feminism. Women have to declare they're not skilled at traditional women's task in order to prove just how much of a feminist they are.

These attitudes have nothing to do with advancing the social or political rights of women. As a matter of fact, I think those are the attitudes that set the women's movement back 50 years.

What are we telling each other?

1. Women are incapable of having the skills necessary to work at their job, take care of their home and practice a craft of their choosing. Once you've learned to program a database, you don't have any room in your head to bake a cake from scratch or sew a button on a shirt.

2. Some skills give you feminist street cred. Others, especially if they involve thread, needles or measuring spoons, mean you're sitting at home pining for the 1950s.  

2. You have to prove you're a feminist by making fun of women who stay at home with their kids, wear aprons and practice traditional crafts.

3. Women who choose to stay home to care for their kids are bubble heads who are bored most of the time.

4. Sewers, knitters and crocheters are setting the feminist movement back by decades.

What do these attitudes have to do with guaranteeing women have the same opportunities, the same pay and the same rights as men?

Not a darn thing.

Real women pursue their own interests, no matter where they work or what their job is.

Real women are capable. They can do practical things like cook, take care of children, balance their checkbooks and sew their own damn aprons.

Real women wear aprons. Feminists wear aprons. An apron won't automatically take away your voting rights or decrease your paycheck.  

By the way, the friend who sent me the link to the apron patterns is a single mother of four who works full time. I'd hate for someone to think she's anti-feminist because she's pursuing sewing aprons right now.

Your Turn:

Okay, I've talked about my pet peeve regarding the use of feminism to cut other women down. Now I'd love to hear your opinion. Do you think stay-at-home moms can be feminists or is that a label reserved only for working women? Do you identify with the feminist movement? Or do you feel alienated by the feminist movement?

6 comments:

  1. The feminist movement is about choice. I got a lot of flack for "quitting my job" when I had my son. It is my choice to choose to be with my family and make a home for us to enjoy together whether that is with a hammer or a meal.

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  2. I agree, Micky. It's definitely about choice, but I think some women forget that all too often.

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  3. Nice Story! I found you via WAHM.com and am following you via GFC.

    Please stop by my blog when you can and follow me too if you'd like.

    http://mommieagain.com

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  4. Thanks Kim! Going to check out your blog now!

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  5. This economy is not stable and things could get worse. Do you think someone who has only worked in a corp job knows how to knit, sew, crochet, can and such?
    Its a lost art, and it seems some generations would rather shop the sales or use their elecronics.
    If parents don't teach their children these skill I expect the have-nots will come after the HAVES.

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  6. Wench - I agree. Losing the ability to do practical home-based things is sad as well as frightening. Every body, women and men, should know how to cook, sew and garden, at least at a basic level. Being incapable is not a smart thing to be in any economy.

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Thanks!