This, right here.
It annoys me for a number of reasons: the author over-generalizes, makes assertions without evidence to back it up, and seems unaware of the ways in which her own positionality on the issue influences her interpretation of these Mormon mommy bloggers.
But I think what irritates me the most about this post is the author’s assertion that she is a “feminist” while she simultaneous judges other women’s life choices- the key word being “choice” here- due to her own failure to understand and accept their choices through their own words. She substitutes her views on the value of being a stay-at-home mother, and the possibility that any one might enjoy it, for the subject of her fascination. She continually discredits the idea that these mothers might actually enjoy what they do because it just doesn’t jive with her own perspective of what constitutes self-actualization (I guess? or proper womanhood?) as a “young, feminist atheist.”
These Mormon mothers, based on what we know of their perspectives, appear to love what they do. But that’s still not okay with the author. As soon as she seems to come to grips with the idea that maybe some people are happy as mothers (as they lead “simple” lives), that not all families are miserable and mired in power struggles like the “friends” she knows (who are, coincidentally, Ph.D. students…), she symbolically discredits their happiness and contentment by countering it with negative information on Mormon domesticity. Ultimately, the Mormon mothers lose their subjectivity as the author “others” these women, for no other reason than that she cannot understand or relate to their lifestyle.
In short, postcolonial and U.S. Third World Women feminists have been criticizing Western feminists for the same assumption that this author makes for decades (and maybe centuries). She casts judgment on women based on her belief of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s acceptable, rather than assessing the women’s situation through the lens of their own belief system.
Not only that, but when did feminism take issue with being happy? Are feminists that cynical that we can’t accept that some people are truly okay with where they are in life? Maybe these women just don’t bitch and moan like I do on my blog. I still love my kids (and my husband) dearly. But I wouldn’t discredit “domesticity” any more than I would discount being single, like the author. And dammit, what’s wrong with being able to bake one helluva cupcake? If you haven’t done it, let me tell you there is an art, a freakin’ art, to domestic economics (and that’s what it is- economics).
The point of feminism, I would argue, is for women to have the freedom to make their own choices, without cultural judgment or sanction. As I write this, I, myself, am adjusting to and finding a new peace with being a stay-at-home mother. Nonetheless, I would argue that the author furthers the “Mommy Wars” and the overall discord between women that benefits patriarchy by doing so, therefore misdirecting her efforts as a so-called “feminist.” I would suggest a more productive politics to take as a “feminist,” a contested term by itself, would be for the author to more closely interrogate her own dissonance on the issues of motherhood, domesticity, and femininity, rather than misplacing that dissonance on others.