feminist math (the opposite of a clickbait title)

I'm a homemaker. And I work really, really hard.

UGH, CUT. Just stop.

It annoys me so much that I feel like I have to assert that I work hard.

Because that statement (YesI'm a stay-at-home mom and it really is the hardest, best job I've ever had) feels like my armor against:

a) disapproval (Is that because you didn't want a real job?)

b) pity (I'm sorry - you must be so bored and frustrated.)

c) eye-rolling boredom (Aaaaand you'll be telling me how hard and rewarding it is, in 3... 2...)

d) patronizing amusement (And you have a blog? And you volunteer! Well, good for you! You're really staying busy, aren't you!)

Any way you slice it, I'm not sure that I can think of another job that inspires so little curiosity at an adult cocktail party. Accountants of the world, I know you feel me.

Honestly, it's fine. It's an easy pre-screening system. If I see disapproval, pity, boredom, or "that's so cute!" cross your face when I tell you what I do for a living, then I know. Alright, thanks, good talk. 

Do I see crab cakes over there? Won't you excuse me for a moment?

I don't get my dander up when acquaintances are disinterested in the saga of Chicken's potty training. Sometimes that shit is just not interesting, and that's totally cool.

But I DO get my knickers in a twist when some armchair pundit whips out the shovel and starts heaping yet another fresh load of manure on that dried-out cow pie: "stay-at-home moms are fine, they're just not feminists."

My knee-jerk response? "Well, your mom obviously wasn't."

But I'll try to be the bigger person here and unpack why it pisses me off so much that we're raising a generation of girls who believe that a woman has to tick a certain number of boxes that were drawn by other people without her input in order to be considered a success.

WAIT. DO I? Seriously? Do I still have to explain why it bothers me that we're determining the level of a woman's value by whether or not her choices conform to what the rest of the herd thinks is valuable?

What's that? I do?

Okay, after I'm done perhaps you can catch my follow-up lessons - "Squares: They Have Four Sides," and "When it Rains You Might Want an Umbrella, or You Will Get Wet." I'll call it my "Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This Lecture Series in Remedial Humanity."

Here we go.

Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This
Lecture 1: 
(Girls + Math) - (Girls + Baking) = Fake Feminism

There's this huge trend right now in children's media - Girl astronauts! Girl scientists! Girl explorers! Girl engineers! And that is FANTASTIC. I'm not trying to Grinch on Rosie Revere, Engineer (which I actually adore.)

It just seems like girl poets, girl caregivers, girl cupcake bakers, and girl knitters are getting a lot of flak.

Or not flak, exactly... it's not as though we punish girls who develop interests in traditionally female fields. We just... don't talk about them so much. We're damning them with our silence. Doctor girls and scientist girls and hard rock-drummer girls and all the girls pursuing traditionally male interests, they're getting all the glory.

These are our daughters, Suzie and Annabelle. Annabelle wants to be an engineer! Isn't that AWESOME?

Oh, and Suzie writes poems.

I've been thinking a lot about this long-overdue celebration of girls (as long as they're girls who like science) and I am coming down hard.

This is fake feminism.

Even if we're praising girls for being great at math and science, we're still not praising them for being girls - we're praising them for daring to be girls who pursue what we still think of as boy things.

We haven't evolved enough to be able to admire a girl's tenacity or creativity or curiosity, her innate character. We've just become good enough at branding ourselves and each other that we recognize the value of the unexpected combo - she wears pink AND knows how to code? Ka- CHING!

I love a female empowering book or movie as much as the next person, but it seems to me that we're selling ourselves a little too cheap and easy. Make a movie about a girl who invents something and we're SOLD. Write a book about a girl who plays baseball and we will TELL ALL OUR FRIENDS. I still can't shake the feeling that Disney hired a crack team of social media analysts to write Frozen.

Where's the trendy new book celebrating a girl who learned how to weave on a loom or paint with perspective? Where's the movie about a girl who changed the world with her volunteer work? When the stories that glorify "women's work" make millions, that's when we can start being proud of ourselves.

But today, the fact that we are so proud of girls who excel in math shows how much we still value math, not how much we've come to value girls.

But what about girls (OR BOYS, for that matter) who really love "girly" things? Oh, them? They're probably off baking somewhere, making quilts and trying to remember how to count to seven. Don't worry, they're simple folk. Probably raised by stay-at-home mothers, poor dears. Never had a chance for success... 

No! False!

Quilting is precise, detailed work. You know, like surgery.

Coding requires creativity, patience, and sharp problem-solving skills. You know, like parenting.

Still not getting the message? Alright, here it is, math-style:

I. 
GIRLS = BOYS

II. 
GIRLS who like math = BOYS who like math

IIIa. 
GIRLS who are hungry to learn all they can about math 
or coding
or medicine
or racecar driving
GIRLS who are hungry to learn all they can about sewing
or drawing
or non-profit work
or parenting

IIIb.
BOYS who are hungry to learn all they can about math 
or coding
or medicine
or racecar driving
BOYS who are hungry to learn all they can about sewing
or drawing
or non-profit work
or parenting


If we are going to be feminists, we have to tell our children that they can become whatever they want to be. And we have to mean it.

Even if she doesn't want to be an astronaut.

Even if she wants to bake wedding cakes.

Even if she wants to be a secretary at a law office, or a Red Bull promotional model.

Even if she wants to be a stay-at-home mother and spend her days folding onesies and swabbing down her children's poopy bottoms (showing them, at least six times a day, that they deserve love, that they are worth messy, stinky, hard work) and helping them play inventor, truck driver, babysitter, cake-baker (showing them that the world is full of fascinating endeavors, no matter what junk they got by the luck of the chromosomal draw.)

a feminist works here

If you've thought about this yourself and you disagree with me, respect. I'd love to hear what you think.

But if you're just regurgitating some "homemakers aren't feminists" or "math is better than art" bullshit without thinking about whether or not it's a message you want to be putting into the minds of your children...

Oh! Do I see crab cakes? Won't you excuse me for a moment?

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