My mother is thinking about going back for her last year of college so she can earn a bachelors degree. Why? Because my father is virtually forcing her after almost 20 years of being a stay-at-home mom.
It sounds like a man trying to help a woman reach a state of “fulfillment” – or whatever it is that comes from doing something OTHER than the soul-sucking housework that my mother has undertaken as her role in our family. And I do believe my father’s intentions are sincere. Let it be known, however, that the choices laid out before my mother are anything but pie-in-the-sky. I’m reminded of Marilyn Frye’s concept of the double bind, in which a person is left with few options and every one of them comes with a negative consequence. Essentially she or he is damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
If my mother goes back to school, she will have to send her 10-year-old daughter to daycare. If she asks my dad to quit his job or take fewer hours he probably won’t, but even if he does our family will face a serious drop in our standard of living.
If my mom doesn’t return to college, she will continue to be perceived by her peers and by my father as the “uneducated”, “unworldly”, degree-less housewife who contributes nothing to the family’s income (except for all the unpaid, tireless domestic labor that keeps our family alive and enables my dad to work, of course). If she doesn’t earn her degree now, she may be mired in her career-less state of domestic servitude forever, denying her the ability to engage in the creative labor that gives the spice of life.
As I talk to my mother about this “decision” of whether or not to go to school, I can’t help but think it’s not a decision at all. It’s a determination of the lesser of two evils, stemming from a system (patriarchy) that was out to get her from the beginning. I guess it’s #HFSF
DC from Fem Phil, Corvallis