The Feminism of Motherhood
Changing social mores have devalued the choice to become a mother, but at its core, feminism is about women being free to do and live as they want.
By Jill Phelan, St. Vincent College
Ladies, we need to have a serious talk. Get ready, because it’s time to get deep for the next 1,000 words.
The Feminist Movement is on the rise and stronger than ever in the United States right now, and in a way, that’s a really good thing—but it also kind of sucks.
Hear me out. I’m not dissing women and all that they’ve accomplished. I’m excited to see female CEOs and fearless feminine tycoons. Seriously, go get ‘em, girls! Kick some corporate ass!
Here’s what really boils my blood, though: as a result of the societal pendulum having swung back so far in the opposite direction, I’m starting to see respectable young adults condemn the everyday Shirley for choosing to have a family and take care of her spouse and kids. Not cool.
I realize where those haters are coming from, I do—they feel that women now have the opportunity to reach for the stars, and they believe that spending your time raising babies and cooking supper is like selling a special birthday present that your friend gave you.
But the way I see it, if someone gives me a camera and I have no idea how to use it, nor do I have the desire to learn how it works, then I’m better off putting it in the hands of an eager photographer who actually wants it. The situation is win-win.
Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t for everyone, but if that’s what you want, then by all means go for it. However, don’t spit on the rest of us when you reach the top. The fact that there are people below you doesn’t mean those individuals are beneath you.
Becoming a Boss Ass Bitch isn’t the only path for women. I praise the hardworking female doctors, but I also applaud the dedicated mother of five. They are both accomplishing wonderful, meaningful feats.
Radical feminists may cringe, but I want to be the housewife who’s barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen with her seventh child, making dinner for her husband. I’m not saying that all women should live this way, I just think that they should have the right to that kind of lifestyle if they so choose—and not be ridiculed for that choice.
Because I’ve known since I was a little girl what I wanted for myself and being a corporate president isn’t a part of that vision, I don’t view my decision as squandering an opportunity. Despite everything I’ve learned about women’s history and female rights in my time as a well-educated student, my desire to be a wife and mother hasn’t wavered in the slightest.
Additionally, who’s to say I can’t be both family-focused and career oriented? I don’t necessarily have to pick my job over my children or vice versa.
I feel that it has become a common cultural belief that to be a feminist, you have to support the working woman and turn your nose up at the seemingly simplistic homemaker—but I don’t think this has to be a matter of taking sides. You may not realize it, ladies, but we’re all on the same team, or at least we should be.
Which leads me to another problem with the PHD versus MRS dynamic: women are being pitted against each other, and the ones putting them in that position are none other than the female victims themselves.
Ladies, why do we feel the need to tear each other down? Our history is riddled with oppression and struggle enough as it is, so why prolong the miserable succession of judgment and scorn? We are better than that. We’ve overcome too much to be held back by something as petty as a difference of opinion. We’re creating problems for ourselves that don’t need to exist.
Now more than ever, women need to be a united front. And we can’t come together if we’re busy ripping each other apart.
Side note: I want to make clear that in all this “I am woman, hear me roar” spiel that I’m not degrading men either, because man-hating is another stigma associated with feminism that I do not endorse.
When I say that women need to band together and fight the enemy, I am not referring to the entire male sex as the opponent. Men who are supportive of women and encourage them to follow their dreams regardless of their sex are of equal importance to their female counterparts.
The adversary is more of an unconscious, oppressive force that still remains in the wake of pre-existing notions and ideals that were set in place for hundreds of years. It’s an outdated attitude that needs to be eradicated from the modern mindset in order for real progress to be made.
To sum it up—society needs a little more love and understanding for its members. Women need to have each others’ backs, regardless of their career paths. Men aren’t the bad guys—the real struggle comes from several generations of historically-based presets that restrict the goals of women.
So, let’s not be so harsh on each other. Ladies, if you tell me that you want to run a newspaper one day and work tirelessly to spread your talents with the world, then I’d raise a toast to you. And if you want to spend your life bringing babies into the world and teaching them how become people with integrity and compassion, then I’d say congratulations are in order.
Whatever avenue you decide to take, make it one of value that you determine for yourself—and don’t you dare let anyone else demean its worth (or your own worth). Embrace your calling with pride and conviction, because no matter what you do, giving 100 percent and loving what you do will always make a positive impact on the world around you.