Stay-at-Home Feminist

I knew the so-called “Mommy Wars” were big, I had no idea HOW big. It seems the war is now on my doorstep, or more accurately, in my email box:

“Erin, I can not believe you dress your daughter in Feminist shirts. YOU ARE A STAY-AT-HOME mother!!!! All you have taught her, is that you have succumbed to the patriarchy and subscribed to catering to your husband. You clean, cook, wear an apron-everything WE fought against doing for all those years. I am sickened by women like you who have thrown away their opportunities in favor of suburban Barney marathons and tupperware parties. Don’t call yourself a Feminist. Don’t dress your daughter like she’s part of your cause. You are NOT one of us. I fought to give you the option and the right to choose your fate, but at least I was a strong role model for my boys. I showed them a woman could be the bread winner and the mother not that I needed a man to take care of me. I would appreciate if you, and women like you, would stop aligning themselves with the real feminists. Goddess Bless, Anne”

When I first read this email, I was hurt. And my skin is usually pretty thick.

I was hurt because I do have guilt over my choice to stay home with my children. As a woman, I feel a sort of responsibility to my gender. I feel like I should always be everything I can be, to show that women are strong, educated, and above all-equal.

But those reasons are exactly why I chose to stay home. Because as a strong, educated woman, I knew the benefits of having at least one parent at home. My husband and I actually had the option available to us, and it seemed a no brainer.

Does having a mother who stays at home have it’s drawbacks? Sure. An impression may be left on my son and daughter that this is a woman’s role. But I highly doubt it. My kids also see their father clean, cook, do laundry, etc. They also see stay-at-home fathers in our circle of friends. But the benefits of having a parent at home far outweighed any impressions that may or may not be floating around.

And here is the big kicker: I want to be home. There was a time where I wanted to be live at every breaking news story, and I did that. There was a time I wanted to be grilling public officials and asking the hard hitting questions-and I did that. I did it well, too, thank you very much. And now, I want to influence my children. Raise my children. And raise them to be strong, educated, and independent.

My mother graduated from high school, got pregnant and married my father. I graduated high school, went to college, became an award winning journalist, THEN got married and got pregnant. That’s progress. I was not expected to stay home with the babies. That’s progress. In fact, I planned on going back to work. After my son was delivered, I changed my mind. Motherhood was my job. And again, it was a no brainer.

Here is what you may not realize…I have it all. And I have it how I want it, not how society wants me to have it. THAT is being a feminist. THAT is what you fought for. You don’t like my choice? Fine. I don’t like that you don’t want me in your little “club.” So I’m starting my own.

SHF. Stay-at-Home Feminist. Raising kids and Raising hell.

Oh, and I plan on dressing my daughter in more feminist garb. I even have a shirt that matches hers. We’re a family that believes in equality of the sexes and choice. And that idea also means I will battle with YOU, my feminist sister, on the choices I make.


  1. I’m 28, not married and have no children. I live on my own, work full time in a coporate environment, pay all my own bills and am completely self-sufficent. I find it ironic that 50 years ago I would be considered a failure as a woman because I’m NOT staying home raising children, but here someone is accusing you of being a faliure as a woman because you are. Ironic.

    I can find my own path in life; determine what I want and what’s best for me and to go after it with all the passion and dedication I can muster. I can live my life single, independent and rise up the corporate ladder or I can get married, leave my job and raise a ton of children or even some blend of the two. That’s my choice and I would consider myself successful either way. To me, that is what feminism is about.

    As for strong female role models, well, my mom was the best role model I could have hoped for. She was college educated, but stayed home with my older brother and me when we were young. Then when I was in school she went back to work part time. When I was in Jr. High she went back to college. When I was in high school she passed the CPA exam and became a CPA at the age of 45. Earlier this year (at the age of 55), she decided she’s had enough of working for other people and has struck out on her own to start her own practice. For so many years she worked hard to balance her own desire for self-improvement with what’s best for her family. She taught me that gender, age, marital status, whether or not you have children, none of that matters. If you want something and are willing to work for it, just go out and do it. I am in awe of her, she’s one of the strongest female role model I can think of. I don’t think she has ever considered herself a feminist; she just lived her life like she was.

  2. I recently had similar argument with someone.

    What a lot of modern feminists (virtually any woman you talk to) don’t know is that 2nd wave feminists such as Simone de Bevoir WANTED women to HAVE NO choice to stay home, so technically feminism didn’t start as being “about the choice”. It started as being about allowing women yo work. De Bevoir specifically said in her writing that she wants women to not have the choice to stay home (“because they will take the choice if it’s available to them”). Of course, feminism likes to constantly amend itself and modern feminist authors no longer claim that. But that doesn’t change its original meaning – and according to it, a stay-home-mom who is a feminist is an oxymoron. Feminism as a movement was one of the reasons why now most families HAVE to have 2 incomes to survive and while we theoretically have the choice to stay home, very few can actually choose to do that and not suffer financially. I could go on and go.

    the letter she sent you is not knocking you down for the choices you made. It merely states the fact – you are not a feminist. Nothing is wrong with it, neither am I.

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