I am not a mother. I have not decided if I ever will be a mother. There are days when it seems like a better idea than not and days where I can never imagine going down such a hard path. I had heard about some of the schisms in Feminism over motherhood but I had never paid much attention and never realized how much anger there was until a thread at Feministing. I understand that my experience with this anger was only in one place but from what I saw much of the anger, hostility and belittling came from those feminists who did not have children.
It blew my mind. In my opinion, we NEED womainst/feminist mothers. These are the women who are raising both girls and boys to be believers in equal rights. We need mothers that don’t buy into all of the gender stereotyping that occurs in childhood. Could you imagine if the only people that reproduced are the ones that think things like “girls like only pink” and “boys shouldn’t cry.” I am a feminist because of my mother and what she showed me about being strong and self-confident and to always make sure you can land on your feet no matter what decision you make. My mother suffered from sexism and because she recognized it she worked hard to create a life where I had more experiences and rights than she did.
Motherhood is changing. I am sure it’s amazing and creates a mindset unlike any other. That’s okay, it doesn’t mean that my mindset and experience as a women currently not parenting is any less valuable, it’s just different. Much as we say it is, in some ways, ridiculous for a man to think his opinion on reproductive rights is as informed as a womans, I find it funny to think that we don’t need mother’s opinions and thoughts when it comes to things like maternity leave, child care, health care, and breast feeding. They know more than us because they’ve lived it.
I wonder about this anger directed at mothers within the feminist circle and I can’t help but feel it all comes back to patriarchy. The sexist world we live in has created a situation where women feel that to express natural desires and needs can be unwelcome because of the way said desires had been “embraced” by the patriarchy. We have been told since we were young that we were meant to have children. Dolls where what we were supposed to want and dollhouses and kitchen sets were geared to be our toys. We are expected to be baby happy and once we are in a serious relationship the pressure to have a child is high (I am writing this from a heterosexual point of view although I’ve always wondered if lesbian couples get pushed to adopt or use reproductive technology from those around them). It is only natural to push back against that type of indoctrination but in so many ways I feel like that is the patriarchy winning yet again. It’s almost a gut reaction, much like how I refused to wear pink for many years and still have a hard time purchasing “girly” colors without feeling slightly guilty. It’s the anger that what should be individual choices have so much weight because they are perceived as “women choices.” People can make a statement by refusing to have children but they also can by having children and yet maintaining their focus on equal rights and becoming the type of mothers that so many sexist men and women fear.
We need feminist/womanist mothers because they are the ones raising their children to be strong against a sexist world. They are the ones sending their girls to Rock camp & Science camp. They are raising boys and girls that get read the “The Paperbag Princess.” & “Free To Be You & Me.” They are the ones that are pregnant and pro-choice. They are important and their fight is our fight.