Saint Augustine once famously said, “The Church is a whore, but she is my mother.”
This quote comes near to describing how I feel about feminism, although it may overstate my affections. While I appreciate the work that feminism has done over the past century, I am embarrassed by her conduct as a whole. And like most young adults leaving home, I am glad to be free to do things my own way. I realize I owe the Feminist movement much of my freedom as a young woman today, but feel unshackled by her dogmas.
I have been outgrowing feminism in both literal and ideological ways. Feminism has traditionally viewed women’s reproductive capacity with scorn. Now on my 6th child, I have long ago literally outgrown the number at which even a moderate feminist would have ceased that dreadful reproductive process.
It always amuses me when feminist women become mothers. Autonomy being such a linchpin of feminist ideology, these women seem to fumble in their own convictions. “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall,” but for this one exception. This baby brings out my creativity. This baby renews my pride in my female genitalia. This baby identifies me with Womyn around the world.
Or, alternately, feminist women neglect their children in favor of higher pursuits. In the effort to invest their sociopolitical passion in the world at large, they ignore the significant portion of the world under their own roof- the portion for whom they, as mother, are the world.
The Woman’s Right To Choose has always struck me as a hypocrisy of feminist ideology. Since my youth, I have wanted to be a mother. I love babies. I aspired to be a midwife in spite of my tendency to faint even at conversation about needles, and had visions of rolling up my sleeves in a hut in the African wilderness, welcoming screaming tangles of life and limb into the cold, bright world. Giving birth at home, unmedicated, was for me a truly empowering experience because it told me that I was strong enough to achieve my dreams. My first words upon beholding my newborn were, “I could do that again.”
What feminism told me, however, was that my dreams were not valid. At the time my first child was born, I was 3/4 of the way finished with a degree in Basket Weaving or some other nonsense, and made a conscious decision to postpone my degree until my children were school aged. I knew that in my field of study, a portfolio is far more important than a degree, and motherhood would not impede my ability to maintain a portfolio. But when I shared this decision with a friend, she replied, “Well, that’s not very feminist of you, but I support your decision.”
Thanks? If feminism can’t support a woman’s right to pursue her own personally defined goals, then it is not substantially different from the Victorian ideology that preceded it. Women, who were once shackled to their biology, are by feminist dictate estranged from it. So, with a strange gratitude to feminism for teaching me to pursue my own personally defined goals, I formally abandoned the ideology and proceeded to have five more children. And for the most part, I am as happy in my chosen life as a pig in mud.
I believe that my views of feminism are increasingly common among women of my generation. We appreciate having the freedom to choose a career, but not the stigma that says we are lesser women if we choose motherhood. Domestic life has its own appeal, and for many women it is the preferred choice. It is a valid choice. Our hours on earth are limited, our ovaries’ days numbered. Investing in the next generation need not take place on a university campus or at political rallies; it can take place nearer to home, on a more personal basis. And if that is your choice, for what it’s worth, I support your decision.