Family and Parenting

Traditionalist AND Feminist – and Proud

This week has seen my most (un)popular post in the history of my blog. Whilst I was aware it could be a little controversial, I’ve been genuinely surprised at how provocative it’s turned out to be.

It was not my intention to offend people, but – based on some of the comments left on the post and on social media – I clearly have done, albeit inadvertently. I’ve been wanting to respond to all those comments since, but due to commitments (not least a small baby and a toddler) this is the first opportunity I’ve had. That’s not for want of trying: this weekend hubby has taken a key role – otherwise known as his share of the responsibility for our family. As he does every weekend. And evening. And waking moment. Except those during the dark hours of the night because, alas, he does not possess a pair of lactating breasts (though I suspect he may wish otherwise).

Anyway, I decided it would be quicker and easier to write another post than to respond individually. So here we go…

 

We’re Grown-Ups, So Let’s Be Grown Up

For a start, I didn’t set out to fall out with anyone. It’s not in my nature and I won’t be drawn into arguments. The purpose of this post is not to retaliate but to clarify my position, because several incorrect assumptions have been made. That’s understandable and I’m not offended, but nonetheless I want to put the record straight:

If you’re going to be angered to the point of a diatribe directed at me, I’d like to at least make certain that your anger is not misplaced.

It didn’t occur to me that I’d need to spell this out but the last few days suggest otherwise, so… The majority of my posts are merely my personal opinion; anyone reading is welcome to add to what I say and begin a discussion rejecting my viewpoints. That’s why I leave comments open on my blog and why I publish every (clean) comment submitted – positive or negative. By owning a website and publishing content to it, I accept that I’m inviting opinion and that those reading what I write won’t always see eye to eye with me. That’s fine, I don’t expect everyone to agree with my perspective; of course I don’t. That said, I do try to be diplomatic for the most part.

It’s true I have strong values, but I’m genuinely interested in what others think – and if we disagree that’s okay. I won’t bicker until one of us backs down. I respect the right of everybody to have their own ideas and won’t enter into an altercation simply because we differ. I find it bizarre that so many adults appear to believe that futile option is the only way for a disagreement to play out.

On that note, let’s take a look at exactly what I’ve said that’s caused so much indignation…

Essentially, I’ve been accused of being stuck in the 50’s and of being part of the problem that’s keeping the glass ceiling in place. I’d like to correct this mistaken assertion.

 

Why I’m A Feminist

In case I wasn’t clear about this in the first post, there’s more than one way to shoulder your responsibility for your part in the creation of any tiny people. Getting up in the night is just one; another – equally stressful I’d wager – is providing for them. I know my husband feels the full weight of his responsibility to go to work and earn the money that keeps a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

So please, using the above anti-feminism argument just doesn’t wash. You may ask why his tiredness trumps yours, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about respect and understanding going both ways.

I strongly believe that men and women should have equality – in almost all scenarios. I do not believe that men and women are equal in every scenario. It would be foolish to ignore our physical and genetic differences, and the senseless PC brigade pushing for this beyond all reason infuriates me.

We may wish otherwise, but women will (in general) never be as physically strong as men. Men may wish otherwise but they will never be the proud owner of a pair of lactating breasts.

That’s not anti-feminism, it’s biology.

And yet…

 

Blurring of Traditional Roles

The roles of men and women are evolving – and I applaud that progressive change!

I was also accused of making dreadful assumptions about which (if any) parent was staying at home with the children and which was the breadwinner. If you re-read my post you’ll notice that in several places I use the term ‘partner’. This was absolutely deliberate. The only reason I resorted to gender stereotypes a couple of times was for SEO purposes. Because, bottom line, if one parent is breastfeeding then in a typical family the other parent is the father.

That will not always be the case – which is fine – but in terms of probability, my argument stands up. And when it comes to SEO, probability is all we have to go on.

If I respect Google for anything it’s for its lack of discernment when it comes to being politically correct.

 

Clickbait

The final reason my post annoyed some readers was the clickbait-y title. Reading between the lines I have to presume those people at least understood the true sentiment behind my post, and that they therefore felt the title was slightly misleading.

I won’t pretend I don’t write in order to be read. I still *try* to ensure the title reflects the content. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect balance.

I wrote in a comment thread somewhere that I should perhaps have added an asterisk at the top of the page saying *if your situation mirrors mine. In the end I chose not to because honestly, get a grip. It’s surely obvious what I was getting at, unless you clicked onto my post actively seeking an argument.

 

Traditionalist AND Feminist – and Proud

My final word is this: I stand behind my personal belief that if a mother is a breastfeeding SAHM and her partner is working full-time, there’s little point in them both getting up in the night – and even that I think it’s harsh to expect them to. Obviously (or not!) things change when a second child is introduced; or the mother is returning to work; or there’s illness; or the mother’s wellbeing is in question.

Again, obviously (or not) every family has to find what works best for them. My husband and I share our roles within and responsibilities to our family, but also keep some traditions which suit us. And that’s the way we like it. It’s the ethos that best fits our values.

So yes, in general, in my circumstances, I still believe what I wrote.

#SorryNotSorry

9 Comments

  1. Leah

    July 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I thought your original post was spot on. When mine was first born and other half was on paternity leave he would sometimes wake with me (we indulged the not sleeping unless she was held for that beginning bit – it was an excuse to not put her down!)

    I breastfed exclusively for as long and didnt expect OH to get up when he was back at work… he did his part… more than his part… bathtimes and evening expressed feeds… making me lunch and drinks that he left in reach because moving was difficult… coming home immediately when I phoned him crying because I couldnt cope.

    Of course I was lucky in my own wonderful mother who came by to do housework for me so I had less pressure in those first months.

    When the waking every two hours became too much… we switched to a bottle at about 10pm… husband did that one while I got a headstart on sleep and I woke at 2 and 6 to feed. He sometimes sat with me for that 6am feed. But he was going out to work and while I was home… my job was the baby… so asking him to wake at night and then go to work? No thank you.

    Now expressing is not fun and not easy so yes… I had the milk so I provided the milk. I cant see how that singular piece of biology is somehow sexist? It is, quite literally, the food designed for babies. That is not to say that any woman should be pressured into breastfeeding if its not right for them.

    When I went back to work… we went back to sharing the night time wake ups… taking turns because we both had to be up and neither of us worked in a job where lack of sleep would have been a danger.

    Any good partnership is based on finding the balance that works for them as a family, and as individuals. And that ensures that every member of their family is safe and healthy and secure.

    The thing I find interesting about the comments that I read is that people seem to think that rearing children is somehow the lesser choice… not a real job. Thats the implication that those glass ceiling comments make. That women who choose to stay home and raise their children are letting the side down. As though looking after a person isnt important. What does that then imply about the caring professions which are predominantly women? Are they letting the cause down?

    Now there is a long way to go for true equality… but women now have the choice, not the preordained role, to stay home. That choice should be celebrated… for those of us who go back to work and for those of us who dont.

    But lets not forget… those of us who dont have a job… primary care giver.

    Ps. Apologies for lack of apostrophes – using my phone

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      My sentiments exactly. The reason for my follow up post to this is because of those comments. I’m unsure whether it was semantics or something else that caused misunderstanding, but I wholeheartedly agree about celebrating that choice. It’s not about a lack of equality – it’s the opposite.

  2. Nicola

    July 31, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I completely agree with you Kate and it totally baffles me why people left you some of the comments they did. It’s not a question of equality, feminism etx. It’s common bloody sense!

  3. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    August 1, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Just read both posts and completely agree with you. I’m guessing half the negative comments are reacting to the title of the original post and didn’t really read it properly. It’s quite clear that you’re describing your own circumstances and what works best for your family. Our situation was similar and I rarely woke my husband – he couldn’t breastfeed and would really only be making himself exhausted to keep me company and still have to work a long day on top. I also agree that you can be a mixture of feminist and traditionalist. To me feminism is about giving women choices. I stayed at home and my husband became the main breadwinner because that’s what I wanted to do and it works for our family.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      August 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Thank you Louise! Absolutely agree.

  4. amytreasure0

    August 2, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Well, honestly I am not surprised you faced a backlash I feel like people get as wound up about this sort of thing as the old breast versus bottle argument. There really isn’t any middle ground. As you know I completely agreed with your other post and the entire sentiment but I am a little surprised that readers thought you as anti feminist. To be honest though, these are they types of people that throw the feminist argument in for argument’s sake. As for the clickbait-y title, I, as you know titled something ‘I will never be a gentle parent’. Now, to anyone reading that who had never heard of gentle parenting that would be completely shocking. It was click bait and very deliberate that’s the whole bloody point!! Love this. Love you! xxx

  5. Adam

    August 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Surely the whole point of feminism is that as a woman you are allowed to live your life and use your body as YOU want to? It’s not feminism for other women to police how you are allowed to think and act?

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