Monday, January 24, 2011

Feminist Motherhood Roundup

I was not really raised with the principles or ideas of feminism.  Sure, I was raised with the believe that I as an individual person could do anything that I set my mind to.  My worshipful mother instilled that in me deeply.  But not the ideas that society as a whole holds an unrealistic expectation of women, judges them unfairly when they don't meet the expectatations, and almost doesn't even know what to do with women, and therefore develops the fatal double standard of madonna and whore, so no matter what one does, society has grounds to condemn.  That those expectations are so prevalent and insidious that they often go without being questioned, and one grows up wondering why one feels so foreign in ones own skin, despite being told of ones value so often.  Noone tells you what to do if you find yourself both madonna and whore, when both are vilified in the public square.

My first experience with feminist theory didn't come in college.  Or in a classroom at all for that matter.  It came in a therapist's office.  A therapist who believed so strongly in feminism that it oozed out every pore of her being.  It made her smile at me so often - probably to hide her shock at my naivite.

I loved feeling empowered.  I read everything I could get my hands on, from online issues of Bitch to Manifesta.  I started the classic "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar" phase.  I would have loved to be a trendy bisexual, if I could fall in love with women like that.  I liked gender neutral words like wimmin and grrls.  I vowed never to marry again, never to have children, never to shackle myself to The Patriarchy and all the insidious judgements (probably why I have had a hard time finding a church where I am comfortable.  Feminism and churches seem slightly antithetical to me at this point.)

Now, here I am.  I've managed to find a career that is female-oriented.  I teach allied health students - a female-dominated area - but in higher education - so no male principal/female teaching staff dyads.

In the course, though, I have become a Mother.  A single mother, no less.  And even ex-vice presidents believe that I am the bane of the world's existence.  So back to feminist theory I go to help me find my voice, and identify with others.

What's this?  Not just feminist writings, but writings on feminist motherhood?  No wonder I stay up so late reading, clicking link after link.

My first was blue milk.  I found her while I was pregnant.  I thought her views were strong - I still had an idealized view of what this mommyhood thing would be all about.  Once I had a girl to protect, I came back for ideas on how to do that.  She is the source of the video on gender bias in toy commercials that I wrote about previously.  She also pointed me Hoyden About Town, which has tons of great stuff.  (These ladies are located down under, which is why they are discussing summer while the rest of us are freezing our you-know-whats off.)

At some point I came across ArwynThis post on some of the feelings one can have while nursing that make people uncomfortable helped me through my own, slightly different, experiences ... it's incredible that people have the courage to be raw and bare and honest, because it helps so many other people make sense of where they are on their own journey on the continuum.  She has a whole bunch of posts on Feminist MotherhoodThis one is a great response to a post written by a man who calls himself a doctor.

Lots of others to recommend.  Many I have found because of their lactivism (views on breastfeeding support) so they may-or-may-not be true feminist blogs, but take up the feminism of supporting breastfeeding mothers. 

And one of my favorite writers is Caitlin Flanagan, book author and writer for The Atlantic.  I adore this treatment of the female Duke student situation (and it helps that I love her name, no?).

If anyone knows of a feminist treatment about The Daddy Question (relevant to SMC's) please give me a heads up.  Otherwise I may have to work one up myself, and contribute to the feminist motherhood discussion.  Like, why it freaking matters so much to us as feminist mothers and our daughters and sons who may or may not grow up to be feminist offspring.

What about you - read any good feminist or feminist mothering blogs lately?


Funky Mama Bird said...

HHmm... As an objectivist, I can't also be a feminist - the two are at total odds with one another, but Sars at once wrote an essay called "Yes, You ARE" that really hit home with me. Basically she said that just being a woman made you a feminist and outlined why. I'd search for the link, but I'm lazy and have peanut butter toast to eat. ;)

Serifm said...

I really haven't. I find that I am a happier, more relaxed woman and mother when I don't read a lot of opinions about how I should do it. I enjoy other people's experiences immensely, but other people's philosophies tend to make me feel claustrophic. What did Jane Austen say? Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.

MommieV said...

But that's kindof the point. You have all the opinions bearing down on you (male doctor link in the post that thinks a mother can't leave a child in someone else's care until age 3) and then the feminists come along and yell BULLSHIT loudly and feministic-ly and it's amazing and reminds you that yes, your kid is okay if you have some mommy-sanity time.

I don't find feminist motherhood to be an opinion of how I should do it. (OKay, yea, I did find that someplace, and I quit following that person, because she was just waaaaaay too uptight. But: exception.) I find it instead to be a picture of another option. How someone else deals with the struggles and thinks the thoughts and puts it all together. Is there anything I can take from that?

Serifm said...

Oh, absolutely! Don't get me wrong...we need those people yelling bullshit. If nothing else, because there are moms who may be influenced by sexist unhelpful male jerks unless they feel other mothers are backing them and saying "We're not gonna take it! No! We're not gonna take it!" believe me, if I saw a friend struggling under an overwhelming burden of guilty crap, nothing in this world would stop me from saying "hell, no!" for moms in general, I think guilt is the problem and chauvinism is a major source of that. What did Jesus say about binding burdens on other people's backs for them? I just mean that I personally don't give a flying fuck about sexist parenting philosophies, so I don't spend a ton of time thinking about them. I am very glad that some people do, though. We need those voices out there. Remember the Supreme Court case with the teenager who got strip searched for Advil at school? Those jackass male judges didn't see what the problem was till Ms. Ginsberg tore them a new one. Fight on!

Serifm said...

I now realize I just said, "I like benefiting from others' hard work without doing any of it myself." Crap.