If you are a SAHM interested in thinking about the role of women in the home as opposed to the workforce I strongly encourage you to check out this post. It will be a far better use of your time than what you will find here. Thanks!
I am ashamed of my job. I am not ashamed of my work, because I am enough of a New Englander to know that one should be ashamed of being ashamed of honest work, but I am ashamed of my job. I am a glorified secretary, and there is nothing cool about that.
I am incredibly thankful for my job. I am somehow able to be employed in a great position even though I can barely think most days. And really, I don’t expect to ever find my life’s meaning in what I do, so I do not especially care about whether I am proud or ashamed of my job. But I am still ashamed of it.
Every other day it seems I hear women talking about housework and childcare as opposed to meaningful, paid jobs. Sometimes there will be a reminder about the women who must work to support their families, but for the most part it is wives of men with cool jobs who consider what it would be like if they too had a fulfilling job instead of solely managing the domestic sphere.
These women often hurry to reassure others (and perhaps themselves) that they could have fabulous jobs, if only they had not chosen to stay home with their children. Then they will discuss the various merits of their feminine sphere and take note of the many sources of pain from those who fail to appreciate their work.
Of course the funny thing is that I have rarely in my life encountered anyone who does not appreciate the value of women who dedicate themselves, at least for a few years, entirely to their children. For every person I have encountered who finds SAHMs less than impressive, I have seen 100 more who will lambaste a mother for daring to even consider working outside the home before her child is in school.
I am quite enthralled with these arguments and find them most fascinating, even though they have little impact on my life. Because, you see, I am one of the multitude of women who belongs to neither the SAHM nor the cool-job sphere.
I have a college degree, but in my case that has turned into a little money without any coolness whatsoever. Many of my peers get paid less for the exact same work, but they can describe themselves as working in non-profit development or whatever and know that in a few years they will have an even cooler title.
The people for whom I work are classy enough to not need to set themselves above me. There is such a tremendous gap and they are so established that they have nothing to prove. But they are rare.
Back in the rest of the world I frequently see women who feel the need to specify when a colleague is a secretary even when it has no relevance to their story. Ironically enough, it is only by finding a way to identify primarily as mother that women such as myself could possibly be considered as an equal. I do not typically feel ashamed of my job around these people because I see them as slightly deformed for feeling the need to demote others in order to raise themselves up by comparison.
But there is such shame when it comes to former classmates. They are fabulous people who value all sorts of variation on vocation. Not only is being a SAHM an obviously respected option, it is even fine to work at a coffee shop while supporting one’s hobbies. The only thing that is shameful is to have a job purely for money–without making an insane amount of it.
I have no problem with supporting others, and so I have no difficulty with my day-to-day life at my job. But I do find it funny that a subculture which talks so much about glorifying the service of a SAHM is unable to even see the existence of women who have less-than-thrilling paid employment.
It just so happens that I value myself as a human being, and thus do not deeply absorb the shame of my job. Yet I cannot help thinking that there is something a little off about those who claim to have a high appreciation of women, but then only recognize our value when we either dominate the domestic sphere or else have awesome jobs outside the home. Anything else is too shameful to even be recognized.
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