More things

First, Delphine is sitting next to me in her high chair eating cubes of canned pear, using the Pincer Grasp. One, grown-up human food, two, the Pincer Grasp. This is so cool!

Later I will find out that she has eaten only 20% of the pear, and has dropped the rest between her legs where they will adhere to her pants when I take her out of the chair.

Second, I'm still having some biggish thoughts about that thread I talked about before. I made an alarming 180 on that topic and I have more thoughts about it but I don't want to subject the Suspects to any more of my mental masturbation, so I'll do it here.

I started off the whole thread with a long weepy post, laden with more rhetorical questions than a Carrie Bradshaw column, about what I should do differently in order to be a proper feminist, where I went wrong, and so on, all with the subtext of how dare you judge me unless you have walked a mile in my moccasins?! So everyone talked about that for a while, about the circumstances which lead women to make the choices they do, about the chicken-and-eggyness of the fact that women are usually the ones who make less money, and so on.

But everyone's situation is different, and everyone can rationalize the choices they make, and as I thought about it it became less about individual choices, and more about whether it's appropriate to disapprove of a particular choice. I decided that it is appropriate; what I said in my next post was:

The second-wave feminists did a great job changing the laws so that you can't discriminate based on whether you think someone you hire is going to have a baby, so that you have to pay men and women equally, and so on, but that's not enough. But once you have changed the laws, what more can you do? You have to create a social climate which encourages the change you want, and in this case that means judging women who do the traditional thing, criticizing them just a little. Making them take a harder look at their choices and see if there isn't something they could do differently, a more feminist choice they can make. Maybe they will decide that there isn't, but at least they will have thought about it.

A real life example: I was having a conversation with a friend a while ago, and I expressed disapproval of women who change their names when they get married. My friend said "I'm going to change my name!" and I told her I thought she shouldn't. Is it any of my business? Not really, no, but there I am having the opinion anyway. I can't change my general opinion because one friend is doing something out of keeping with that opinion.

And maybe my friend will encounter three or four more friends who agree with me, and maybe a newspaper columnist or TV character, and maybe she'll think a little more about changing her name, and decide not to, because me and the other three people and the newspaper columnist expressed our opinions. Or maybe she's thought about it and will never change her mind, but at least she's been exposed to this other point of view, and has considered it.

It's like gossip; I've read that gossip is how we share and refine our values and sense of what is right and wrong. Talking about how other people live their lives is a vehicle for communicating our ideas about how we think we should behave. I guess you could start a conversation with "So, Ellen, what are your general thoughts on housekeeping?", but it's a lot more compelling to say "Did you see the state of Linda's house?" Or "Did you see what Jodi was wearing?"

Or "Can you believe Jenn quit her job after the baby came?"

I guess you could assume that everyone has been exposed to the feminist viewpoint, that everyone has thought all their decisions through and is satisfied that they are in keeping with feminist ideology, but that doesn't seem like a sensible assumption to make. I suppose it's arrogant to see yourself as the feminism fairy, sprinkling your political ideas wherever you go, but if you think your political opinions are correct, why keep them to yourself? At the least, by talking about what you think you are exposing your ideas to the scrutiny of others, so they can potentially be discussed and improved upon.

The problem with trying to apply general, one-size-fits-all ideology to the career/baby situation is that it's a complicated choice, with roots in the degree you chose in university, your career path, the role models you had as a youth, your husband's career path, your income, your environment. There are too many variables for the feminist choice to always be the right choice. But if feminists make it generally known what choice they favour, maybe young women will choose paths earlier in life which make that choice possible later in life. Isn't that what it's all about?

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