I Don’t Look Down On Other Women, I Raise Them Up (And I’m Not Sorry)

Recently, there has been a backlash against all types of women: stay-at-home moms, career women, fit women, childless women. One article making waves in the news, “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry,” states that being married and having children is extremely average and not anything that should be celebrated. While I disagree (I think marriage and children are wonderful things to celebrate. As are promotions and welcome home parties from a wild trip around the world), I think the author was attempting to highlight the inequalities and double standards men and women are subjected to. The author believes women should be on equal footing with men and have the ability to choose more openly a lifelong career and adventure instead of supposedly being forced to stay at home.  However, she did a fairly poor job of getting that across. Instead, she demonized women who choose to raise families instead of being the breadwinner as though they are slaves with no active ability to choose their destinies. Newsflash: Many women want to be stay-at-home moms. They’re not being held captive.

This is tough work!

This is tough work!

On the other hand, we have also turned childless women into villains. As the author of the article Are the Childless Necessarily Selfish points out, some choice words to describe this bunch include “selfish, decadent, and irresponsible”. One blogger even went on to (somewhat apologetically) say she feels that her life with kids is harder than her childless counterparts (Do Parents Think They’re Better Than Childless Couples?). I don’t particularly agree with this either as you have no idea what struggles people are enduring. Just because someone doesn’t have a child to care for doesn’t mean they don’t have an elderly parent that they must care for, a husband with a mental or physical disability that would make having children difficult, or some other challenging life circumstance. To put it so black and white that being a parent is any harder than that childless couple you see on the street is just a little out of line (just like saying stay-at-home moms are average is out of line).

Childless

This doesn’t even begin to look at the other types of woman bashing such as the fit mom backlash (think Maria Kang’s “What’s Your Excuse” photo). One woman’s attempt to inspire other moms to get healthy (that is my opinion; “what’s your excuse” is a common phrase used to inspire others in the fitness community, not shame them) turned into a full on war of the words that showed just how incapable people are at looking at things from another’s perspective. It also highlighted how overly sensitive everyone is.  A simple picture with a simple phrase dug so deeply into people’s thoughts and emotions that others felt they were being shamed. Instead of thinking, “Wow, it’s amazing she can look like that with her crazy life as a mother of three” it immediately turned to “She must be a horrible mother who is selfish and cares more about herself than her family.” Two completely different viewpoints from one silly picture that led to a whole ton of criticism.

All of this brings me to the conclusion that most people are big jerks at one point or another and we all need to stop hating on everyone else. As a young, career driven married woman who is extremely into fitness and does not plan on having children, I find this constant bashing of other people’s lifestyles to be out of place and horrible. Instead of making me feel proud to be a strong woman, every corner I turn tells me I’m inadequate for one reason or another. And a lot of times it’s other women telling me this.

For example:

  • I’m 25 and married; that’s a plus.
  • I have a good job; you’re on your way to winning at life.
  • I’m 25 and I don’t have children; you’re a horrible person.
  • I have a good job, but I don’t own a house; you’re looking more like a failure every day.

The list can go on and on and on.

I want to make it known that many women have the choice to be whatever it is they want to be. It is totally possible to be a wife, working-mother, and fitness freak and still raise a wonderful family. My sister-in-law is doing just that. She’s a college professor, works part-time in a gym, and takes magnificent care of my niece and brother. I also want to point out that it’s just as great to be a working mom who is also a wife and not into fitness. My sister is exemplary at this. And then there’s my own amazing mother who was a stay-at-home mom who raised three wonderful children until she got sick and passed away from lung cancer. Kudos to her for having to deal with all of our friends too since we were the “go to” house. Then there’s me, a career woman who is also a wife and a fitness freak and doesn’t plan to have children. Four different women from the same family. Four different women who all chose different paths related to family, work, and health. Four different women who accept each other’s life choices because in the end, it doesn’t actually affect anyone else. These women are a large and important part of my life, but they do not live my life and therefore should have no real criticism about my choices.

My mother and I on our wedding days with my Uncle Andrew. We're spitting images of each other!

My mother and I on our wedding days with my Uncle Andrew. We’re spitting images of each other!

My family on my wedding day. My sister is on the far left and my sister-in-law is on the far right (and yes, we're a mini melting pot!)

My family on my wedding day. My sister is on the far left and my sister-in-law is on the far right (and yes, we’re a mini melting pot!)

So, from one woman to another (and to any man who helps reinforce these stereotypes), I ask that we all start accepting everyone’s personal life choices a little bit more. If you choose to be a stay-at-home mother, good for you! It’s something I would personally never want to do (for reasons I’ll explain in a future article), but I applaud those of you who choose this path as it’s no easy task. If you choose to be childless, that’s great as well. Thanks for knowing and understanding how your life works best and not bringing an unwanted child into this world. If you want to try and inspire others through fitness, or cooking, or knitting cool scarves, go for it! We should be helping each other rise, not bringing each other down.

Find your strong suit, make your life work in a way that makes you happy, and praise those around you for their own positive life choices even if they don’t mirror yours.  You’ll be surprised how much happier you are when you stop focusing so much on everyone else and do what’s best for you and your family. Just give it a shot and let me know how it goes. 🙂

Now, it’s your turn. How can we empower women to be the best they can be?

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