The Birth of a Mother Feminist
Does the world need another mom blog? No, probably not. Do I need a place to write about motherhood and feminism?
Yes I do.
Because to be honest, I’ve been struggling – not really with the day to day of motherhood – or at least no more than is to be expected – but with what it means to be a mother, and what it means for me, an avowed feminist and independent woman to be a mother.
I’ve been mulling over how those two identities conflict, or support, each other.
With this week’s SCOTUS leak, I’ve been thinking about the really sticky parts about the conflict too.
I was told that I’d feel different about abortion rights when I had a baby of my own, about when a fetus becomes a baby, becomes MY baby. I was told to “just wait, you’ll see” when it came to ideas like staying at home, daycare, and priorities.
Slowly, over time, somewhere, someone had put the notion in my mind that being a mother meant giving up my feminism.
If I had to guess, that “someone, somewhere” was just the patriarchy, or one of its staunchest supporters.
I was told, or I told myself over the years, that motherhood was a traditional feminine role – one that feminists should break from, one they should reject.
So on the night I found out I was expecting – I immediately felt like I was at a crossroads, a point where I had to choose between being a good mother and a good feminist.
Which is ridiculous.
Being a good parent means instilling values in your children, a foundation for growth and progress. It means teaching them more than just how to ride a bike or tie a shoe.
It means teaching them how to be a good person, a good member of the community, a good partner and teammate.
Feminist values are those core values that need to be instilled in the next generation – especially considering how skilled the patriarchy is at passing down their corrupt and dangerous ideas.
If we stand any chance at creating the peaceful, healthy, and just society that we deserve, we need mothers (and fathers) to build the next generation.
Before my son was born I had slowly assumed the role of pseudo or step-mom to a wonderful daughter, and as that role crystalized, the responsibilities that came along with it emerged, slowly but clearly.
I began to realize how important it was for me to break the dangerous anti-feminist ideas I had absorbed over my life – those about making men comfortable, about competing with other women for success, and about how a girl or woman should act, look, or dream.
I realized that feminism and motherhood were not incompatible, mutually exclusive domains, but rather mutually supporting, complementary responsibilities.
In fact, in no other role – not as a Marine, an academic, or a diplomat – was it more important for me to teach, affirm, and live feminist values that it is a mother.
The white patriarchy wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be smashed in just one generation either.
If we’re going to do this, we must do it together – picking up our pens and our hammers (and our ballot cards) to write – to build a better world for our children.
Happy Mother’s Day mother feminists.