Indeed, while a vibrant Cuban women’s movement flourished in Havana during the first part of the twentieth century (Stoner 1991), the writings of early Cuban feminist Mariblanca Sabas Alomá ( 2003) make clear that the desired outcomes of social and political reform for many poor urban women in Havana were economic and conjugal stability – meaning the possibility of remaining within the unpaid domestic sphere with the support of a male breadwinner – rather than the right to work and autonomy from men. – Elise Andaya, Conceiving Cuba: Reproduction, Women, and the State in the Post-Soviet Era, pg 41
The perspective of this author seems to be that the highest goal for women, the most progressive and ideal, is to join the paid workforce and be free of dependency on men. While I agree with her that the ability for financial independence is necessary, I take issue with the demeaning tone she uses throughout her book to describe women who live out more stereotypical female roles in the context of marriage and child-raising. It is consistently presented as the lesser option, the choice of the unenlightened and ignorant, or (alternately) the luxury or prison of the wealthy.
I think even in the United States today, where women have the right to work outside the home, can be financially autonomous and self-sufficient, and are culturally encouraged to obtain an education and pursue a career, a lot of women still desire the stability offered by marriage as well the ability to devote substantial amounts of time to their young children that the financial support of a partner enables. We have found that we can achieve autonomy, but that it is a hard and lonely road, and that the interdependency of committed marriage and family life can often bring joy and fulfillment. The simple truth is that while many women choose careers that bring them incredible satisfaction and purpose, many other women work simply out of financial necessity (often occasioned by family breakdown) and would love to spend more time making their homes and neighborhoods places of beauty and community and raising their own children instead of outsourcing their care. The benefits they can bring to their families and communities in the context of the “unpaid domestic sphere” are not the less for being monetarily unrecognized, and it is a harsh devaluation of the family, the child, and the task of raising the child to act as though the financial remuneration for a job is its only source of worth.