Trans women have an inherent stake in feminism. We are, after all, women, and most of us believe in gender equality. But what of those us who've chosen a more traditional life path, one that more closely resembles something feminism has been trying to eradicate for the last century?
Can I still be a feminist, even if my chosen lifestyle doesn't reflect feminist values? Or, does the fact that I am transgender, living what many would consider to be a very alternative lifestyle (lesbian marriage), keep me within the parameters of being a good feminist?
When I first saw vintage ads like these in a feminist literature course, my reaction was not what it was supposed to be. I should've been appalled, outraged, disgusted, saddened, etc., that such a societal mentality existed back then that found these ads charming and effective.
Was I appalled? Disgusted? Saddened?
No, I thought they were cute. As it turns out, for reasons I cannot explain, a small part of me longs for this period in time that I am too young to know. My mom was a product of this era, a mother and housewife who always seemed quite content in her traditional domestic role. I guess I've always been a momma's girl at-heart, and images like these, disturbing, comical and archaic as they may be, represent a small glimpse of the period.
So, here's my dilemma.
I truly believe that women should have all the rights, freedoms and opportunities of our male counterparts - all of them. Women should not be relegated to any silly, outdated societal gender role. I truly believe this.
On the other hand, when I look at my own life, I don't think I measure up. I am a housewife. I am financially dependent. I cook, clean, shop and do most all the household chores for my spouse every day. Those who've read my memoir know that I have a neurotic attraction to being on the receiving end of domestic discipline, as depicted in the first ad above. If my feminism is to be judged by my actions alone rather than my words and convictions, I'm screwed.
So, until somebody wants to call me out and correct me, I'm going to continue considering myself a feminist. Just because I've chosen the life of a traditional housewife doesn't mean that I think all women should be housewives. Women should be free to choose whatever life path best suits their hearts, talents, needs and desires.
True equality, the cornerstone of feminism, is all about having choices, not what is chosen.
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