"As I see it, feminism opened the door to opportunity outside the home and
then pushed women through it."
As a feminist, I cannot DISAGREE more STRONGLY. The feminism I know opened
the door to CHOICE. It was and is all about supporting other women's choices
about what they do with their lives. If a woman CHOOSES to work in Corporate
America, I support that. If a woman chooses to be a primary care-giver to
her children within her home, I support that. Women (and Men) should be
supported to do what is best for them and their families regardless of
cultural stereotypes. That is the feminism I know and practice.
The American, stereotypical, lifestyle of today, as depicted by the dominant
shaper of American culture these days, Madison Avenue (and by extension mass
media,) is based on conspicuous consumption. Conspicous consumption of goods
and services, "having it all," has been sold to us for more than a generation
It's no longer enough in this culture just to buy one's own home. This home
must be in a certain type of neighborhood. It's no longer enough to have a
car. It must be a certain type of car and new. It's no longer enough that
children are clothed. It must be name brand clothing. It's no longer enough
that children have one after-school activity. Now it's soccer AND gymnastics
AND ballet or baseball AND the local theatre group.
All of this costs money and takes time.
I used to get up on Thanksgiving morning and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving
Day parade (the first nationally institutionalized infomercial!) while I
helped tear up bread for the stuffing. There wasn't much choice if the TV
was allowed on, all three networks broadcast it. Now, instead of the
uninterrupted parade, we get updates on the number of shopping days before
Christmas and toy commercials. The day after the only thing on the news, it
seems, are updates on available parking spaces at the local malls broadcast
from a circling helicopter, the shakiness of retailers about whether they'll
"make it" this season, on-the-street interviews with people about how much
they'll be spending this year.
Monthly news reports emphasize the US economy is consumer-driven. We have
shifted in the last generation from an economy based on export of heavy
manufactured goods to one of retail and service sector domination.
Historically, these sectors pay less and offer less security than the
manufacturing. Consolidation of all industries, allowed by the government in
the name of the free-market, resulted in many, many traditional wage-earners
(men) being laid off. Traditionally, again, retail and service sector jobs,
were part-time, unbenefitted, "pin-money," jobs held be women who "didn't
have to support a family." Guess what, if all the manufacturing jobs in town
go away, service and retail sector jobs in the next town over, "women's
work," is the only thing available to support a family.
Both the change in the economic engine of the US and the perceptive cultural
norm are what pushed women through the front door.
These changes also impacted communities, churches, and schools - those
institutions that used to support families emotionally and spiritually.
Transient populations searching for employment tend to bond to the smaller
family unit and are reluctant to bond to the greater community because they
may again be ripped away. If you are afraid of losing things - home, car,
personal belongings - and you are afraid of losing community that you've
extended yourself personally to create, you start to focus on acquiring and
hording posessions. Acquiring and hording takes money and has an insular "me
first" focus. If the shorthand to your place in a new community is the kind
of car you drive and what activities your kids are involved in, guess where
your attention is going to be?
How do we reach EACH OTHER in this environment? I'm not sure I have a magic
answer. I discovered a couple of years ago the above described lifestyle
wasn't the way I wanted to live. That's when I started our Community
Supported Agriculture program. I believe that Community is an extension of
personal intimacy. It takes personal involvement, risk, and effort. It
happens by giving of one's self rather than taking. And, it seems to happen
one person at a time. I am now making an effort to create the kind of
community I want to live in. I've been lucky enough to find other folks who
are willing to do something about that, too.
Maybe this is a situation where Ken Kesey's Hundredth Monkey theory applies.
When a critical mass of Americans sees more good in giving of themselves to
each other than giving goods to each other, when we all recognize that
sustainability means our families and communities sustain, a sea-change will
Full Circle Organic Farm
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