I get that you don't have a lot in common with "mainstream moms". I think most readers of your blog can commiserate, but I sure get tired of the "mommy wars" and knocking down women for wanting to do something besides watch their children. I think it's really refreshing when women can admit that they need a break, look forward to a break, want some time to themselves, whatever. Maybe it's shoes shopping, maybe it's exercising, maybe it's going to see a band, maybe it's (gasp!) getting a job. Implying that women want wine more than their children? C'mon, lady....
My response got so long that I decided to just turn it into a post.
I don't have a problem with "mainstream moms". I don't care where anybody affiliates themselves on the societal continuum. I don't care if you honestly do look forward to having a glass of wine. I don't care if you think shopping is fun. I personally like shoes and having dinner with my girl friends.
I'm talking about being opposed to a culture where women express and define themselves within a pejorative set of standards. I like shoes, so what? That's not even SORT OF one of the interesting or important things about me. It's CERTAINLY not going to be one of the first things I choose to tell you about myself. If I buy a new pair of shoes and tell somebody, "I really like my new shoes, look at them," that's fine, who cares? That's not what I'm talking about.
If I use my time and talents and my vehicle for the expression and representation of myself, if I consume and regurgitate that I'M A WOMAN, so OF COURSE I love shopping and wine and walking away from catcalls in a pair of Italian leather high heels... If I spend my energy TALKING INCESSANTLY ABOUT and DEFINING MYSELF ACCORDING TO,
"Don't you love wine? Aren't husbands stupid? Isn't being sexy and fabulous awesome? Aren't our kids annoying? Doesn't it suck to pack lunches?"
... I'm only participating in THE EXACT THING I started believing all of these things to get away from! (That "thing" being an idea that women aren't capable of anything besides being superficial and concerned with superficial things.
Liking shoes isn't an identity. Loving nap time isn't what makes you a mom. I don't care what you do, or what other moms do or believe or enjoy, as long as you're not adopting and enacting a bunch of superficial, misogynistic, oppressive standards of what it means to be female. And the only reason I have a problem with all of that in the first place is because I believe that you are better than you're claiming to be when you spend all of your time at the trendy wine bar talking about shoes! Not because I think you're less than I am, or because you're just more "mainstream" or that I think you don't deserve a break. (I really REALLY think you deserve a break, as a matter of fact.)
And also, why do people assume that I don't have anything in common with "mainstream moms?" What do you think I'm doing with my time every day, all day? I'm doing and feeling and thinking the same things that "mainstream moms" are doing and feeling and thinking. Only, I don't feel the need to belittle myself by sitting around letting other people talk and write and think about love and death and loss and beauty, while I go sit with a bunch of my ladies and giggle over how I spent so much money on a pair of shoes and how I'm not going to tell my husband, hee-hee. Because I'm a woman, right? I don't live every day of my life in a state of awareness and love and learning. I GO SHOPPING AND THEN GUZZLE WINE, GO-O-O GIRL-TIME!
I don't mean to totally beat the question to death, but what makes a person "mainstream" anyway? I'm college educated, live in Pittsburgh, shop at Target and Old Navy, I'm lower-middle class, own two cars and a home. I'm heterosexually married to an accountant, have two children and I plant a garden in my suburban back yard. How am I not "mainstream"? I honestly don't understand the definition. Is it because I believe there should be more to womanhood than being 40 and fabulous?
Do you think that by believing the way I believe, I'm saying that I don't look forward to nap time, too? That I don't appreciate having time with my female friends or deserve a break?
All I'm saying is that if I have the choice to repeatedly and persistently represent something about myself via my writing and tools of self-identification and expression, you better believe I'm not going to use that little window of energy and audience to bad mouth my children and talk about how they drive me to DrINk WiNE, woo! In saying that, do you think I'm implying that my kids don't make me crazy?
And... the thing about me inferring that the SHOES SHOPPING WINE WOMEN want wine more than they want their kids: I'm saying that it's a crime to spend all of your time talking about girl's night and wine, when you could be using that same platform to connect with other moms in a meaningful way that doesn't make you look like a brainless woman.
What I was really saying is that, I KNOW that you love your kids more than wine ; so, by defining yourself as a shoe shopping, "COCKTAILS!" kind of girl, you've just misused your chance to tell the truth about who you are and how you feel. It makes me upset that women are convinced that it's okay to talk more about wine than about the complicated, interesting, multi-layered, earth-shattering, nerve rending, heart breaking reasons why we feel such an impulse to escape and buy shoes and drink wine in the first place. I'm not saying that you can't be an awesome feminist if you enjoy shopping for shoes! Are you kidding me? I'm saying that shoe shopping doesn't even kind of make up who you are and why you're valuable or interesting, so why are you talking about it all the time?
We only have so many chances to say what we want to say and have people listen. Maybe you don't agree and that's okay, but I personally think it's stupid and brainless to use your personal platform to point out how awesome girl's night and high heels and men's butts are, when you could be telling the truth about how you really feel as a human being, when you could be representing all of the things about you that have worth.
If you interpret anything I'm saying to be condescending to the way another mom or woman lives, you didn't understand me. I have a problem with the fact that, due to living in a fucked up society with fucked up standards, women don't understand that choosing not to exert their worth, intelligence, beauty, depth and honesty when deciding and expressing who they are is a mistake.
I believe these things, not because I just think I'm right and somebody else is wrong. I believe them because I think we're all the same, whether we're "mainstream" or not... and we're all suffering and we're all experiencing joy and death and growth and heartbreak. Only, we're not saying so, because, as a culture of women, we've come to erroneously believe that people just want to see how fun and stylish and pretty we are, not how we're monsters and gods who are capable of staggering and breathtaking things.
I don't have a problem with wine.
I don't have a problem with shoes.
I don't have a problem with shopping or mani/pedis or men's butts.
I don't care how other moms are enjoying themselves in their free time.
I enjoy myself, too.
I just have a problem with a culture that assumes that we're a bunch of vapid idiots, and that we succumb to those expectations by behaving that way. I'm tired of reading about how "empowered" we are because we have jobs and don't bake, but in the same breath we're just brainless women who spend money while looking fabulous and drinking wine.