Being a mother isn't a real job -- and the men who run the world know it.
NEW YORK -- When my mind gets stuck on everything that is wrong with feminism, it brings out the 19th century poet in me: Let me count the ways. Most of all, feminism is pretty much a nice girl who really, really wants so badly to be liked by everybody -- ladies who lunch, men who hate women, all the morons who demand choice and don't understand responsibility -- that it has become the easy lay of social movements. I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time -- by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits -- is her feminist choice. Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.
Let's please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don't depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.
If the movement had been serious about being serious then the idea could not have caught on that equal is how you feel. Or that how anyone feels about anything matters at all. Men know better. They look at numbers, and here is how the statistics are running years after women first started screaming and yelling and burning bras: We still earn 81 percent of what men do, and an act to make things more fair was blocked in Congress by Republicans. For anyone who doesn't care to count, but understands traffic signals mixed with policy speculation, I think it's safe to say that the day is near when a teenage girl will be forced to get a vaginal probe before she is issued a learner's permit in the state of Virginia. And this is all because feminism has misread its mission of equality as something open to interpretation, as expressive and impressive, not absolute.
Don't agree? Try this: smart is how you feel, pretty is how you feel, talented is how you feel -- we are all beautiful geniuses. Feminism should not be inclusive, and like most terms that are meaningful, it should mean something. It should mean equality.
And there really is only one kind of equality -- it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo -- and it's economic. If you can't pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent. But because feminism has always been about men -- our relationships with them, our differences from them -- as much or more than about money, it's had few consistent tenets. Hemlines up, hemlines down, choice this, want that -- once we get away from the scientific need for sustenance, it's all gobbledygook. I really don't consider it my feminist business that an awful lot of strong and solid women -- Simone de Beauvoir, famously -- are idiots about love and romance any more than I care that Helen of Troy's face started a naval war, because we are all fools for love. But I think it is my concern that all people, with whatever foolishness, are able to provide themselves with gas and food and lodging.
I have to admit that when I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton -- one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better -- but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed. I'm not much of a moralist -- I have absolutely no right to be -- but in the interest of doing what's right both for me personally and for women generally, I have been strict with myself about earning my keep. For the longest time I would not date anyone who would now be called a one-percenter because money and power are such a potent combination, and if I am going to be bossed around, I don't want that to be the reason. When it's come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don't want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.