Homeschooling Is Anti-Feminist?

Now, here’s a new one. A claim that homeschooling is just one more thing that perfect moms are supposed to do without being monetarily compensated. (Please, if you comment at this website, be brief and moderate. Don’t give them more reason to be anti-homeschooling.)

I wonder, does that mean that parents who don’t homeschool don’t work their asses off to make sure their kids are educated? And that moms who work don’t have the pressure to be the perfect “school mom”? Uhm. No.

If there is an anti-feminist sentiment in homeschooling at all, it’s also in schools. It’s a cultural thing.

But I don’t think there is. In fact, I think homeschooling is empowering to moms. Empowering to kids. And provides moms ample opportunity to be fully engaged people in the world – paid or not paid.

In my opinion, feminism is not just about how much we earn as women. But how much we are allowed to effect the world around us. How much we are allowed to speak up, make a difference and to incite critial thinking. The fact that there women are welcome to work the 9-5 grind just as much as a guy is, or that she is asked to contribute to the financial functioning of the family is not even close to feminist.

What’s really feminist are women who do what they want to do – whatever that is – without being told they can’t. And for most homeschoolers, that’s what they are doing. Saying, “I won’t stand up to the pressure to be a good school-mom and I’m doing this to make change in my family.” While at the same time, so many homeschooling moms find their true selves while being away from the social pressure to be the perfect parent, and are able to get out and make a difference in their communities, political parties or in whatever capacity interests them – in a way that is true to themselves, instead of trying to live up to what a woman is “supposed” to be interested in.

There can be pressure withing the homeschooling community to be perfectly motherly or the perfect at-home school teacher. But we have the choice whether to be involved with that. We can choose conform to everybody’s idea of what a woman is supposed to be or we can choose to do things our own way.

If we think feminism is all about how much money women make, or whether we are able to work while being a mom – we’re missing out on the real point of feminism. It’s not about the money (Well, OK, money is a gauge on how we can see if we are valued as much as men, so it’s sorta about money). It’s about women being free to live fully, and to be treated with the same respect and acknowledgement as men. Instead of being pushed down and unable to speak up or be a part of the world.

Homeschooling moms can be exactly the kind of mom, woman, person we want to be. We can speak up. We can stand out. We can follow paths that working moms and dads can’t. We can be the woman we’ve always wanted to be.

That’s what it really means to me to have “equal rights with men”. The idea that women can work too, and earn money for the family, just like men, doesn’t mean we have “equal rights”. It means we can do double duty. The whole “women can work” doesn’t actually give us anything new except to add more on to our plates. Equal rights means we can be in positions of power – and that’s right girls, power over our family and of the community in which we live in. It also means we can have power over our children’s education and the system in general. We’re not the teachers, but the change makers.

The feminist movement is far from over. Trying to do what men do, and keep up with them is a distraction. Equal rights doesn’t mean “doing the same thing” as men (thank God/Buddha/Allah/the universe). But having the same freedom in life to pursue our dreams. To be taken seriously. And to stand up and say, “You can’t control me.” That’s equal rights.

I say, as a fully equal woman, “I can teach my own children how to be in the world just fine, thank you. I don’t need other people to do my job for me. I’m not afraid of taking responsibility. I have the right to stand up for what I believe in. And I am not going to bow down and go to work “like I’m supposed to” to prove something. I don’t need to prove anything. I’m a woman, proud of it. And don’t have any intention of sending my children to school like a good little mommy just because our culture says it’s what we’re “supposed” to do. (And, the educational system (run mostly by men) and our politics (run mostly by men) and our pop culture (run mostly by men) tells us to do).”

If that isn’t feminist, I don’t know what is.

But I’m willing to hear other points of view. Is homeschooling anti-feminist? What’s your opinion?

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12 Responses to “Homeschooling Is Anti-Feminist?”

  1. Summer Says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you. I think it is sad that some seem to think feminism means getting a job outside the home and making as much money as possible. Thats not feminism! Feminism means having a choice, being free to choose my own path. If we lived in a society where all women had to work that would be no less oppressive than a society where no women were allowed to work. By actively making a free choice to take the well being of my children into my own hands I am a feminist.

  2. Sheri Says:

    You know, it’s not like Dads who decide to stay home and/or homeschool get paid either. And when it’s the Dad who decides to stay home, then it’s the Mom that must take on the full financial responsibility for the family.

    So where does anti-feminism come into play?

    Truthfully, I didn’t link through to read the original article, I figured it might just piss me off and encourage a rant.

    I’ll just say that I agree with you that Homeschooling is really about personal choice and personal responsibility for the welfare and education of your kids. Whether you are a woman or a man, it’s really about parenting.

  3. Rolfe Schmidt Says:

    I have to laugh a little here. I am teaching my kids and you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to stop doing it. I don’t feel oppressed. Just one voice.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not a woman.

  4. Sheri Says:

    Actually Rolfe, it’s worth more than you think that you’re not a woman.

    If more men were willing to speak up about this issue, there might not be such a fuss in the first place.

  5. Mom Is Teaching » Blog Archive » Is homeschooling anti-feminist? Says:

    […] May 31st, 2007 by Summer Minor I found an interesting article being talked about over at Just Enough, and Nothing More. The article can be found here. But it’s frustrating to me that it goes without question so often […]

  6. Throwing Marshmallows » Feminism and Homeschooling Says:

    […] over at Just Enough and Nothing More had an interesting post titled Homeschooling is Anti-Feminist? In it, she responds to this post. Tammy has many good points with which I […]

  7. The Sinister Scribe » Maybe I am a Feminist Says:

    […] Been doing some late night reading at Throwing Marshmallows and Just enough. They phrased much more eloquent responses to a blog post saying, among other things that […]

  8. Just Enough, and Nothing More Feminist Homeschooling Concerns « Says:

    […] Homeschooling Concerns July 9th, 2007 — Tammy In response to my post on feminist homeschooling, I received this interesting comment: So, if being a mom is a full-time job, does your husband have […]

  9. Kathleen Trigiani Says:

    I hate to say it, but I thought your article was very naieve. I resonate strongly with many home schoolers’ concerns about the quality and safety of public schools, and the expense of private schools. However, as long as home schooling mothers are economically dependent on their husbands, I cannot view it as a feminist decision. In our still-patriarchal society, it’s hardly a coincidence that most of the world’s poor are mothers.

    Indeed, I wonder what these homeschooling mothers would do if their husbands cheated on them, beat them, beat their children, got disabled, died suddenly, or just practiced garden variety emotional abuse. So many homeschooling mothers act like a man is a financial plan. A mother who cannot provide for her family is setting herself and her children up for abuse.

    Please read Anne Crittendon’s “The Price of Motherhood: Why the World Most Important Job Is the Last Valued.” Also, you need to read Allan G. Johnson’s “The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy.”

  10. Victoria Carrington Says:

    I agree with you. It seems that American feminism only values working outside of the home in a high-powered career, ironically leaving the children to be raised by poor minimum-wage earning women. I find little “tolerance” of diversity (ie. women who think having babies and being barefoot in the kitchen is –gasp–OK alongside women who want careers outside of the home) in modern feminism in America. Sad that the movement seems to neglect the right of all women to choose their destiny according to their heart’s desire, not what feminists feel is best for us. The stance on homeschooling is just another example of this.

  11. Summer Says:

    Kathleen, I’ll answer you. First, after he picked himself up out of the hospital because any man who lays a hand on me better make sure I can’t get back up he’ll be slapped with all kinds of child support. Meanwhile, I rearrange finances and find a way to make due on a smaller income.

    We’re not all weak helpless creatures, and personally I’m insulted that you seem to think we are simply because we choose to homeschool. Many, and I dare say most, are resourceful and bright and know how to work around obstacles and find a way. Some will find a way to continue homeschooling, some will not. The same thing is said for working mothers relying on 2 incomes and may suddenly find that 1 of those incomes is gone, you find a way to survive.

    It’s no longer the 1950s, at least not here in America. I don’t face complete obscurity from the workforce for simply having a uterus. In fact with the boom of the internet there are many stay at home moms who make sizeable incomes from their own couches. We are crafty and resourceful and understand that our time spent managing a home can be translated over into the workforce. Hang out on Twitter.com and you will see a huge population of moms working together to benefit each other.

    And lastly, assuming that we see men as nothing more than a paycheck is insulting to us and them. I see him as a partner, as a 50-50 part of this adult household. We choose how we will split that obligations, and for us that means he works out of the home while I work in it. However that does not mean I am helpless to his whims.

    It seems to me that this energy would be better suited to helping the women who have no choice and to increasing the power of women culturally. Trying to convince those of us who choose differently that we’re weak isn’t building up women overall.

  12. Tom Mericle Says:

    Tammy,

    I agree that homeschooling is more empowering and better for families and society because we choose to care about our children rather than ship them off to school and daycare for someone else to take care of and raise.

    Tom


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