In an article about an upcoming movie featuring gun-toting women with STEM degrees, the characters were described as “badass bitches.” I thought, if these women were baby-toting women with sociology degrees – would they also be called badass bitches?
The main difference is that the first group of women are breaking the stereotypes of what it means to be a woman. And while that’s unique, it doesn’t make those choices better or worse than the choices to engage in more traditionally feminine activities.
Women in male-dominated fields are not better.
It makes me sad when women doing traditionally male activities are exalted. And this isn’t jealousy from me not getting enough attention. I work in a field dominated by men. I love watching football and I love biking, traditionally male activities. I also wear dresses nearly every day, love to cook and entertain and love my nephews. I don’t think my stereotypically male activities make me better, cooler or more valuable than the stereotypically female activities. That would be denigrating things that a lot of women like and, in turn, denigrating women.
The point of getting women into certain male-dominated jobs isn’t because these jobs are better – it’s because they pay more. Of course, we now know that women face a boys’ club and sexual harassment and all sorts of other problems when competing for these positions.
We also know that if women start to take over a male dominated field, the pay collapses. It seems like women are being sold a house of cards. Work really hard in this career so you’ll get paid more, but it’ll be a difficult job where you’ll likely face a lot of sexism and harassment. When the sexism and harassment tide turns and it starts becoming easier for women to enter the field, the pay will drop.
It doesn’t make sense for women to chase male-dominated jobs. It reinforces the idea that male jobs are better, but the only reason we think they’re better is because they pay more and the only reason they pay more is because they’re male-dominated. Maybe you help a few women for a short term earn higher pay, but it would be far more fruitful in the long-term for people to respect typically female jobs.
Of course we should all support women who want to go into male-dominated fields if that’s what interests them. But it’s not inherently better for women to be in male-dominated fields.
Women in female-dominated fields are not better.
I’ve heard some women (annoying women I may add) stress that motherhood is the most important job anyone can have. Ok fine. You are entitled to your thoughts, annoying woman.
The problems with this belief are at least threefold. It’s other-ing to women who cannot or don’t want to have children or who are single. It’s other-ing to women who put their career first. It’s shaming for women who have to work and who have to hire outside help for raising their children.
There’s nothing wrong with not having children. I don’t have children and I’m fine. I know a lot of women who have fertility issues. Obviously women without children are not any less worthy of being mothers. They are excellent aunts and sisters and daughters. We need all of these roles. Being a mom isn’t the job that everyone can have or wants.
My mom stayed home for a few years when we were young but when she went back to work, her salary went to pay for our nanny. At no time did I think I was neglected by my mother or my father because I had a nanny. My parents still raised us. I will fight to the death anyone who would shame another mother for having a nanny or for having help in raising their kids.
My sister is a stay-at-home mom. That’s fine too. I will also fight to the death anyone who says that her staying at home is easy or useless. These are all perfectly good choices.
Sometimes I worry that feminism spends too much time exalting one group of women’s choices over another’s and that’s not what feminism should be about – it should be about helping every woman and man make the choices that are right for themselves. Let’s stop saying more women should do STEM or stay home or whatever. More women should be able to do whatever they want without judgment from others.