CAN anybody tell me why the young professional women of today actually WANT to be barefoot and pregnant – a state of being that women of my generation (40-ish) denied, decried, despised as chauvinist and backward, not too long ago.
This article was recently published in the Jamaica Observer’s All Woman. Its title was ‘I dont mind being barefoot and pregnant’
“DESPITE the achievements of the women’s movement when it comes to championing the rights of working women, many career women are opting to go back pre-women’s lib, and embrace being barefoot and pregnant — choosing the stay-at-home lifestyle over the whole climbing the career ladder scenario.
Indeed, many women are (or are wishing to) going back to the days when the woman would stay home and care for the family while the man bore the task of being the breadwinner.
“I tell my husband all the time that I don’t mind being barefoot and pregnant,” said Tanya Meichen, 31, who has a master’s degree and a well-paying job as a middle manager in a large communications company.
“The only reason why I haven’t done it is because we can’t afford to live on one salary right now. But after the birth of our daughter, I realised that my destiny didn’t lie in the 8:00 am to 8:00 pm workdays and in trying to compete. To put it bluntly, I’d rather be popping out five more babies; attending school functions and my child’s games, and decorating my home.”
She said she never thought like this before becoming a mother, in fact, “I never wanted children and wanted to be head of my company. But people would never understand the yearning to revert to the traditional, until they have kids.”
No disrespect intended, but I thought we were capable of doing it all, mother, wife/partner, professional. At least, that is what my generation was brought up to believe, courtesy of our hardworking, enlightened and educated mothers, and eye-opening books and magazines (there was no cable tv nor social media, nor cellphones for that matter).
Back then we devoured information about the masses of women – primarily in the US and UK – smart, driven, yet sexy and nurturing women, who we held aloft as she-roes while we planned out our future lives, complete with nice (not necessarily rich) hubby, a villa-type home with a nice backyard complete with gazebo, and the 2.5 kids. We went to university, got a career (not just a job), celebrated birth control and our sexuality (and the right to choose any, and as many partners as we wanted).
We endured the ravages of time, a poor economy, sexist male derision and shrieking hordes of barefoot and pregnant woman (usually in rural Jamaican villages) pointing the finger at us and called us “mules”, because we chose to determine when to have babies, and “fool-fool” because we decided not to accept the first marriage proposal we got.
But, just when we seemed to have finally accepted that it was perfectly fine that we couldn’t handle the roles of working woman, wife and mother equally well, all the time – here comes this new generation of educated, professional young women, making it seem like we have been idiots all this time.
The new breed of women don’t want to work and would readily give it up just to stay home and have babies; leaving it entirely up to the man to provide for the family. If it weren’t for sheer financial necessity, they wouldn’t work outside the home at all.
I get it. You are tired… of trying to do it all, of trying hold it all together, of taking up the slack where the men fail and now you just want to be cared for. Well so am I. I’m bone tired from trying to fend for myself financially for the last 20 + years in a sluggish economy. Doing back-breaking, spirit-crunching, energy-depleting, social life-killing late night, weekend and public holiday shifts. Where is my Sultan of Brunei, Bill Gates, Richard Branford, Michael Lee-Chin to come save me from bills I generated?
I don’t have kids, because I wanted to have them in a committed marriage-type relationship like the one between my parents. They were the foundation of the loving family I grew up in and I haven’t yet found anybody worth trying to recreate this with. Still, even sans kids, I’m tired, I too want a break!! I’m just not willing to give up my financial independence to get it. I could have, I had the offers. Now, mark you, I would have had to be subservient, sweet and available all the time, and depend on the man to give me an allowance and likely tell me how to spend it. The horror! I have witnessed too many relationships on the fritz, where the women can’t leave a ‘wutliss’ man because of her poor finances, or who discover, only when the relationship is dissolved, that the man has spirited off their shared savings.
But, I am honest enough to admit that I’m not a strident feminist. I would accept a suitor’s/lover’s gifts, monetary or otherwise, today. Years back I refused or returned them for fear that he would think me ‘licky-licky’ or easily bought. Maturity has showed me that if a man cares about you, he wants to see you comfortable and happy and will go to the ends of the earth to ensure he makes this happen for you. Like my Daddy did for my Mummy. Like I would for my husband/partner. A real man sees it as a matter of pride/ego that he can care for his woman. What did Steve Harvey say in “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” – A real man will profess, protect and provide for his woman. That is at the top of my list these days. No more paying half for movies and meals (yes, I actually did all that in the late 80’s). That darn ‘different but equal’ anti-sexism movement had in me a real convert back then.
But I have yet to make the leap to wanting to be barefoot and pregnant, waiting at home for the hubster to bring home the jerk pork. More power to those who see it differently, but I worked too hard on this independence thing to just cast it aside because it is no longer popular, or because it’s just too hard! I battled male coworkers who were less qualified, less smart and got more pay and quicker promotions, although I was busting my ass and they were just drinking with the boys. I endured men being sexist and treating me like a favourite pet or sexy plaything at work, with me having to prove, over and over again, that I had an equally sharp, if not sharper intellect than they did.
So while I get that pregnancy and child-rearing are really hard, and its much simpler to just let the man take care of everything else, can it really be that all these young women are simply content to be called simply ‘mother’, and nothing else? Has the world changed so much?
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