My mother is one of the most intelligent and accomplished women I know. Prior to her marriage to my father, she traveled the world, picked up many fascinating hobbies, was fluent in multiple languages, and drove a sweet sports car. Additionally, she had a very cushy job and a plethora of equally interesting friends.
The day I was born, she gave all that up and never looked back. As I grew, the enormity of my mother’s love for me was more than apparent. I certainly didn’t have a perfect childhood by any means, but she raised me with constant affirmations of how beautiful, smart and capable I was. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I was doted upon by her and my grandparents, and my indefatigable self esteem is undoubtedly a product of their suggestion.
I would not trade my childhood for anything; to be loved with such pure potency is a gift many live their entire lives without.
In the second to last chapter of her book Radical Womanhood, Carolyn is all about motherhood, wherein she introduces a most curious term: “Mommy Wars.” She defines it as “the tension which exists between stay at home moms and working mothers.” This cultural phenomenon, according to Carolyn, was brought about by the modern notion that “work” is only considered valuable to our economy when you can put a price on it. Thus, after fighting hard to win respect in the workplace for so many decades, women had yet to win equal respect for their work at home.
In fact, when stay-at-home-moms describe their career to others as a “home-maker” they felt they are downright scoffed at!
So, it would seem to Carolyn, women who choose to stay at home view mothers who go to work as not taking their role of motherhood seriously, and women who work see women who stay at home as delaying the evolutionary process of feminine independence by self-inflicted isolationism.
“Why is this?,” Carolyn asks. Raising children into responsible, intelligent, god-fearing adults is the most important task of all for our world and futures! In addition, God very clearly described Eve’s role as to “be fruitful and multiply.”
As usual, she’s also done her homework on the feminist movement, and how their “best laid plans” have yet again gone awry in real life. She refers to the feminists who pioneered contraception and liberal sexuality as “the clogs and destroyers of civilization.”
She cites Margaret Sanger, who campaigned against women breeding with “staggering rapidity” and believed “when women have raised the standards of sex ideals and purged the human mind of the unclean conception of sex, the fountain of the race will have been cleansed. Mothers will bring forth, in purity and joy, a generation that is morally and spiritually free. When motherhood becomes the fruit of deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, it’s children will become the foundation of a new race.”
Sanger is essentially suggesting that if women take sole responsibilities for their bodies and don’t hogtie themselves to repressive notions of sexuality, it wouldn’t even be necessary for Jesus to save us!
Carolyn breaks down into tears at this point (she literally typed those words). Without Christ, we are doomed. “Women who have abandoned their husbands…and who are living in adultery with their paramours, produce abortion and arise from their guilty couches an stand before large audiences as the medium for angels.”
What I find interesting from studying the passages she cites from the feminists is they are suggesting a woman not bear the entire load of child rearing herself. They aren’t saying mothers should shirk all duties, leave the kid at home and whoop it up. Charlotte Perkins and Margaret Sanger were leaning more towards the “it takes a village” approach which was popularized by Hilary Clinton many years later. This radical proposition is that women and men support each other, and don’t delineate child rearing to be a solely female chore. Were there flaws in the plan? Absolutely. Was Margaret Sanger a pinnacle of morality and Utopian feminism? Of course not. But creating a pro-woman environment which allows them to retain their individuality even after becoming a mother helps lessen the resentment which crops up from the”lazy housewife” stereotype, and creates more well-rounded children.
Now, I am not a mother, and I was raised by a decidedly domestic mother in a nuclear family model, but our neighbors both worked and their children turned out just as healthy. If anything, they were more socialized than I was. Until I went to school at age 5, I had almost no experience interacting with other children. I was very comfortable speaking and joking with adults, but small kids my age didn’t react the same to the sarcastic wit and unapologetic assertiveness on the playground. I could read and write at age 3, my grandfather taught me basic algebra at age 6, and I could point out the big and little dipper, the north star and Orion’s belt in the night sky. This was both a blessing and a curse, because it took years for me to feel comfortable in a group of individuals my own age intellectually and socially.
The problem I have with Carolyn’s accusations of feminism shifting a woman’s priorities away from a godly imperative, is she offers plenty of problems and flaws in the status quo, but she doesn’t offer any real solutions other than to cling to the Bible like a buoy in a sea of sin. There is no respite until everyone has a Judeo-Christian worldview. Her beliefs and reactions are based solely on how a given stimuli makes her feel, and that just doesn’t jive with me.
Should the right person and time present itself, I think I would make a good mom. In fact, I think I would be enamored with the little crotch cabbage. But there honestly has never been a longing to be a mother and to nurture a child. I’ve noticed this longing in so many of my friends (most of whom are now mothers) and that’s awesome for them. If for some reason I should never have a child of my own, I won’t be heartbroken. I’d like to believe I’m my own best judge of how to spend my life and so far, my intuition has be unerring when it comes to determining when the “right time” for a major life decision needs to be made. If that means an existence with a full heart and empty uterus, I can live with that.