I'm A Feminist And I Don't Think Women Should Have To Work

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I'm A Feminist And I Don't Think Women Should Have To Work

Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

Women should stay home.

Don't stop reading just yet. Women should stay at home ... when staying at home is what they choose. Because true feminism is about choice.

Being in a lesbian relationship — at least for me — means fewer assumptions about work, both in our home and outside of it. One of us has to be out making the donuts. But why should both of us be selling ourselves to make money for someone else?

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That is what most jobs are: making things that people don't need or convincing people they need things that they don't. It's hard and unforgiving and in a world that operates on dollars alone, it's nothing short of required.

So if a woman can — and wants — to stay home, she should. But so many don't because we, as a society, don't value what it actually means to stay at home. To stay home is to have a mind that's free. Staying home means being able to pursue creative endeavors.

It means being able to care for the person who is out slaying dragons, making it possible for them to slay dragons. And for the ones who aren't part of the cog world — but who are instead saving lives, bettering lives, and working in jobs that support people who save lives — those of us at home are literal lifesavers.

Staying home doesn't mean doing anything. It doesn't mean only doing the laundry and the dishes. It means raising humans who will one day be lifesavers. It means taking care of the person who takes care of us. It means living a life we have chosen instead of one we've been "shoulded" into doing.

How did life get turned so upside down that making widgets and making people think they can't live without those widgets is more important than caring for human lives?

Women should stay home when that is what they choose when that is something they have the luxury of doing. And they should be looked up to for that choice.

We have to rethink the work we value. We need an overhaul. Throwing a pig's skin over a line is not important. At all. Creating art, volunteering, caring for the person who takes care of you in a way that the world forces them to, making life more beautiful, curating a world where there are still things to cherish — that is important. That is vital. That is how humans can survive the meaningless work that takes place in cubicles all across the country.

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Yes, there are women who stay home and are slaves to care for disrespectful partners and children. Yes, there are women who stay at home and eat bonbons and shop like it's an Olympic sport. But many of us who are lucky enough to stay home is taking care of the people who take care of us while pursuing endeavors that society does not value monetarily.

I get to write because I stay home. I get to educate and challenge, inform and inspire, instigate and propel — all with the words I write in my pajamas.

If I were in an office, I would be writing for someone else. I would need approval from editors and advertisers. I would be making money for someone else while following someone else's rules. Why would I choose that if I don't have to?

When my partner gets home and the dishes are done and the laundry is folded and dinner is ready after she's been out of town for a week storming the castle, she is so happy, grateful, and relaxed. It also means we get to spend more time together when she's home because she doesn't have to jump into house stuff as soon as her feet hit the floor.

And when she is home, she cooks and always cleans the kitchen when I cook, and she is plenty familiar with the laundry room. But my being home eases the chore urgency. Things are in order when she returns from the mayhem. And her gratefulness makes me feel happy and loved and like my contributions are as important as hers.

She says knowing I'm here burning the home fires makes all the crazy travel and work stress worth it. 

And I'm ever-grateful for the life that her work provides us. When we travel or have a fabulous dinner out or go on a shopping spree, I thank her for participating in the system that makes that possible, even though I know how hard it can be. We are different and we complement each other, and we both make choices and honor each other's choices, and we are grateful for one another's contributions.

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For those women who thrive in a corporate environment, who get their energy from working with others, more power to them. But that work is no more important because it requires dressing a certain way and sitting in a certain place, or because it garners a paycheck.

This is a discussion about choice. Staying at home is my honor and my delight, not my burden.

Staying at home means not having to participate in male-dominated and male-created systems that serve only themselves. It means not making less money than men for the same work. It means revaluing what really matters and reminding us all that the work at home is as important — and very often more important than what's going on on the assembly line or on that sales floor.

The point is, when life allows, to choose to work at home (after all, just because it isn't paid doesn't mean it isn't work) or to work outside the home without thinking you are somehow less valuable because you stay at home.

One woman says she's a banker and everyone in the room is impressed. Another says she stays at home and everyone turns up their noses. The woman in banking is part of the demise of the middle class; the woman who stays at home is a community organizer helping people get the healthcare they deserve. We're valuing the wrong pursuits and thusly, it's causing women to pursue the wrong pursuits.

We value jobs that in the past, have been traditionally male and make it seem as if doing those jobs (preferably in the ruthless way men traditionally do them) is to be praised while choosing things that are traditionally female is to be dismissed. We have it all backward.

If you're lucky enough to get to stay home, don't squander it. Take care of the person who takes care of you. Better the world. Do your art. Don't waste it.

We're the lucky few given a bad name by the idle rich or the unappreciated whose partners think having someone who stays at home means they don't have to lift a finger, and because they are out of the house they and their work are more important. Capitalism can't be what defines us.

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Jenny Block writes for a number of regional and national publications, including the Dallas Morning News and American Way. She's the author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.