Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Think I'll Be a Nuclear Physicist

I appreciate all the e-mails, comments (through the back roads, you sneaky people you), and Facebook messages regarding my most recent miscarriage.  Eventually I will respond.  I promise.  But right now I'm choosing denial, anger, and a whole lot of other things.  The best way I have found to cope is to continue writing about something--anything--other than kid stuff, and to read all your blogs.  A nice escape from a crappy situation.

When I decided to embrace feminism, it wasn't a whimsical decision based on cultural pressures or a desire to be different.  It came because I recognized that many of my personal beliefs matched those of the feminist movement.  One example is my view on women working.

A couple years ago, I quickly read through The Feminine Mystique as a primary source while researching feminism.  At the point I read it, I disagreed with many points (per my disgust of all things feminist), but much of what Betty Friedan, the author, postulated through her research and suggested because of her research has stayed with me.

Before I studied Friedan's work, I believed that all women who worked outside the home were feminists.  After a couple years of pondering on her words, I know the truth to be otherwise.

See, Betty does suggest women can only achieve self-actualization (re: Maslow) through working outside the home.  But, and this is important, only through meaningful work that requires she use her full mental capacity.  That is what I want to highlight today.

I know many, many, women who return to work after having their baby because they believe that's the best thing for them; unfortunately, they detest their jobs and often feel more miserable because the choice they made.  The problem, as I see it, is they chose a job that paid moderately well but had nothing to do with their personal and professional interests.

One of the fundamental purposes of feminism is to empower women.  But, to do this, information must be disseminated as to how this works.  Primarily when it comes to working outside the home.  If we, as women, are going to enter the workplace, we much find professions that challenge and fulfill us.  We need to either pursue higher education to assist us in our professional goals or work our way up in a company we wish to manage.

One of Ben's great friends once gave him excellent business advice: plan to attain the highest position in any company you work for, that way you can get off when you want rather than settle for something lower that doesn't bring satisfaction.  This is great for women and men.  A big reason I plan on pursuing a masters and Ph.d someday.  If I feel that a masters is all I need, great.  If I realize I do want to continue, I will have already planned on it.  The point is, I am not limiting myself--I am reaching for the stars.

There is so much more to say on this issue, but for now let me end with this thought.  After reading this, you might wonder why I stay-at-home.  Because, despite what Betty Friedan says, I do find complete fulfillment at home.  While I have goals to continue my education in the future,  for the present I am very satisfied with my profession.  This is the important "take home message."  Find something that fulfills you: whether that is staying home with your children, a secretary job, or pursuing a career as a doctor.


  1. I'm totally CEO, CIO, and CFO of my household. Since I'm already at the top, I can retire now, right??

    PS: Been thinking about you all day. Sending more hugs and strength.

  2. I couldn't agree more. The goal of feminism, and perhaps humanism in this new century, should not be dictates on what kind of work we do or where we do it, but rather a scaffold to help women (and men!) find work that makes their souls sing, whatever the compensation and recognition is (or isn't).

  3. I really like this post. Thanks.

  4. I'm sure that if I had a career I loved before I became pregnant with my oldest son, I would have had a greater desire to get back to work. At the time, though, there was nothing I wanted more than to stay home with him. Now, however, I can say I've had enough and I'm quite ready to get back out there and find "me" again. Wherever she may be.

  5. Kate--"work to make their souls sing" is the perfect way to describe it.

  6. Yes. Perhaps we can retire together?

  7. Not to split hairs (okay, would you prefer I split atoms?) - I do think there is a difference between fulfilling and being filled up.

    I like that you speak of women seeking what fulfills them. And in your case, that is the profession(s) of staying home, running a home, raising a family. And I do see it as a profession (but you know that) - just one that is undervalued and unpaid.

    Where I see problems are in those women (especially) who see marriage and family as filling some sort of hole. Filling them up rather than finding out who they are, and filling themselves up with knowledge, experience, awareness.

    My (weary, bleary poorly articulated) two cents. Hey - you get what you pay for. Now, what is the going rate for Nuclear Physicist these days? Maslow move over - I've got a mortgage to pay and teens to feed.

  8. I disagree with you; this is a very well articulated "two cents."

    Yes, fulfilling is different than being filled up. Perhaps the reason I am content with being a SAHM (can someone please come up with a better term), is that I have found a purpose for being beyond raising children--as much as I love them. Whatever it is that helps you become filled is something that only you can find.

    I believe nuclear physicists are in high demand, but the risks involved with their subject matter may be too much. As Japan has showed us.

  9. Yes. Finding something that fills you up. For years, I belonged to the corporate rat race cycle, partly by choice. I also had law school loans to pay off. I enjoyed the title, but not necessarily the substance of the work. I continued on that pathway for many years. After having my daughter, I decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to writing and raising my daughter full time. I don't have "professional" title I once had, but most days I am completely full. Great post Amber.

  10. A generation or two or three ago, a woman who wanted to work out of the home had few options: nurse, secretary, teacher, ect. The women who preferred learning, science, math, research, ect, chose to be teachers and shared their advanced knowledge and enthusiasm with their students. Nowadays, these women are becoming surgeons, top lawyers, CEO's, and the likes are no longer filling the teacher positions.

    While there are MANY AMAZING teachers out there who fill the exception to the statistic, this situation means that the vast majority of educators (including the men) teaching our children come from the bottom of their graduating class instead of the top (as they used to, at least in the women's case). The passion for science, writing, and math is not seen nearly as often. Why teach when you could get a MUCH better job that you might enjoy better, right?

    Tangent... I know. But I hope you find it interesting. LOVED your post and agree full-heartedly! While it may not be helping the education system, women SHOULD go out and find things that make them feel fulfilled whether in or out of the home. Every woman, family, and situation is individual!

  11. I see your point, Ashley. Ben and I often agree, though, that if more men were in the teaching profession they wouldn't put up with the crappy situation--you know? But women are more inclined to complain but not act. (At least in most cases.) Or, they think, I'm only doing this until....(I get married, have a baby, or husband finishes school) so don't have much desire to change the conditions.

  12. As a work-from-home mom, this is a hard one for me. I am doing what I love (writing, design, consulting), but the housework and motherwork still falls disproportionately to me. As a someone who aligns herself with feminist principles, it's hard to navigate what could be when treading water at what is.

  13. The women's movement brought us many things. One handicap it gave us: women have to leave the home to have meaningful work. Oops!

    I find it pretty meaningful to raise up people and create new life.

    I also find that there is meaning to my life beyond tending little souls. For me, it's a balance.


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