Fly My Pretty is a gorgeously reflective feminist mother and she tackled my 10 feminist motherhood questions just the other day here on her blog. Fly My Pretty, along with her female partner are mothers to twin babies (a boy and a girl, so her description of gender stereotyping and how young it starts is quite interesting). Aw, I love twins. Fly My Pretty is the primary carer but her partner and her are actively pursuing equality in the sharing of their family roles.
I do think it is easier to be a lesbian mother and a feminist than a heterosexual one. Many of the struggles other women have about division of household and childrearing labour and valuing of mothering vs working out of home take on a different flavour when sex roles are taken out of the picture. My partner works, I look after the kids. When L comes home from work she is ‘on’ – doing the baths, responding to overnight cries, getting up early with the babies so I can have a sleep in. At the moment this arrangement is practical because I am breastfeeding, so can’t leave the kids for any length of time, and she is halfway through her doctorate. When she’s finished, we plan to each work part time. Our decisions about our roles in relation to the children are not made with reference to what we are ‘supposed’ to do because of our sex – even subliminally.
Her observations hold up in the research too. Our feminist mothers’ group discussed ‘queer parenting’ last month. We had a guest speaker who is both an academic in the area and a lesbian mother herself. And conveniently for the purposes of roping her in as a guest speaker, also a good friend of mine. Among the things I learnt that night are that there are some 18 possible ways of conceiving a child, which makes us look a little deluded in being so hung up on the penis in the vagina method (or repronormativity, for you smarty pants types). She also covered the politicising of heteronormativity (eg. the emphasis put on “family values” in politics and what we mean by ‘family’ when we say that). Then towards the end of her presentation she talked a bit about queer family formation (let’s just say that there are plenty of possible plot lines for episodes of The L Word) and finally, queer parents’ negotiation of domestic and parenting roles.
Unbound by gender roles and, wait for it… I know this will come as a big shock to you as a feminist, but lesbian couples seem to manage a little more equality in the home with sharing housework, raising kids and paid work than straightie couples. Yes, I know, who would have figured gender was such a big part of domestic inequality?
Incidentally, family processes (eg. satisfaction with family relationships, quality of parenting) were found to be much better predictors of children’s well being than family structures (eg. gender, sexuality, status of cohabitation etc). I know, more craziness you wouldn’t have predicted.
Anyway.. if you haven’t already responded to my 10 questions about your feminist motherhood, then you could do so (please let me know so I can either post your response here as a guest post or link to your post on your own site)… or you could just read what others have said, the archive is here and it is full of fabulous feminist mothers in all their varieties.