Family life

Are SAHMs killing feminism?

According to Elizabeth Wurtzel, stay-at-home moms are killing feminism because they don't earn an income. Our worth can't be measured, counters our SAHM blogger.

By Jennifer Pinarski
Are SAHMs killing feminism?

What feminism can look like: Successful marriages and happy SAHMs.

“Real feminists don't depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.”
Elizabeth Wurtzel, in her June 18, 2012 essay in The Atlantic
Fourteen years ago, when I graduated college — the first woman in my family to do so — I considered myself a feminist. Fiercely independent and mildly repulsed by the thought of husbands and babies, I moved thousands of kilometres from home, started paying my own bills and carving out a career.
Eleven years ago, when I met and married my husband, I gave up my maiden name, we closed our separate bank accounts and started a joint account. 
Five years ago, when our son was born and I returned to work after maternity leave, my heart was sad but the career I’d spent 10 years working on was too important to let go. And we needed the money. My husband still earned more money, I still did the bulk of the household chores and I still wasn’t bothered by what could be considered by women like Wurtzel to be inequality. I loved my life and my contribution to our home and marriage.
Two years ago, when I quit my job to raise our children, leaving behind a career and a salary to become — gasp — financially dependent on my husband, did I consider myself to be less of a feminist than I did when charting my own course as a fearless and single 20-something? Not at all, but mostly because my view of feminism had grown up as I grew up too. I realized loving my husband, birthing my babies and choosing to be home with them didn’t mean that I no longer cared about the role of women in our world, despite that my work as a stay-at-home mom is unpaid. Winnipeg-based SAHM Cara said it best: "The fact that she (Wurtzel) thinks all women should earn a salary in order to 'prove' their worth is very outdated."
No, I don’t earn a salary right now, and I have no idea when the time will be right for me to go out and do so. In Wurtzel’s eyes I’m a failed woman and feminist, being financially dependent on my husband. But here’s the thing that no one tells you: The decision to give up a salary and be 100% financially dependent on your spouse is huge. It’s more than crunching the numbers and deciding if it is financially feasible. It’s humbling. It is a blow to your ego. It’s a job that you cannot attach a dollar figure to, because there is no currency that measures happy children and marriages. Because only you know the cost of sacrificing everything you believed in up until the second you met your newborn child. 
For Wurtzel to accuse stay-at-home moms of killing feminism based solely on our economic worth to society is a lie and an attack on every mother. Our worth will never be measured in dollars, but in healthy children, successful marriages and the better world that we create together.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts here or on Twitter to be included in a follow up post this week.

Photo by The Mamarazzi Photography
This article was originally published on Jun 25, 2012

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.