- They don’t have the time or energy to think about feminism, let alone act on it.
- Having babies gets them all wrapped up in traditional expectations, which seem to be at odds with feminist principles.
- Many people, women included, think that feminists hate children because they “enslave” you.
- They get seduced by the American Dream: Mom at home taking care of baby, Dad at work supporting the family.
- They feel rejected by feminists, as if they had violated some kind of oath by having children, or worse yet, by staying home with them.
- Becoming a feminist is threatening to the men who (help) support them and their children.
- Their religion tells them that feminists want to diminish the sanctity of motherhood.
- They think that feminists don’t respect women who have chosen to become mothers.
- It would make them seem ungrateful for being able to stay home with the children.
- It would be like admitting that motherhood isn’t enough.
- They feel misjudged and misrepresented by feminism.
- Their husbands/boyfriends might leave them.
These reasons why mothers aren’t feminists fall into two main categories: insecurities about themselves and their children’s futures and a feeling that feminists are not interested in their fate. The ironic thing is, the majority of women who start out as feminists end up being mothers. What happens to their feminist ideology and identity then? Is it like losing your religion? Can’t you be a card-carrying feminist and a mother, too? We need to hear more from those mothers and childless feminists need to give more thought to their own futures. Even if they don’t want to have children, what kind of lives do they want for their “sisters” who do?
[pullquote]It would be like admitting that motherhood is not enough.[/pullquote] Another ironic thing is that many women don’t become feminists until they have children. They suddenly see all the pitfalls that befall a woman who is trying to raise children in a disinterested world. They begin to think for the first time what kind of people they want their children to become. Do they want them to be restricted by the roles society assigns to them? Do they want them to be victims of discrimination either on the receiving end or the giving end? Don’t they want their children to be strong and sensitive regardless of their gender? And what if they have gay or transgendered children? Or a teen who gets pregnant–or gets a girl pregnant? What if they themselves get divorced or were always single mothers?
Being a mother is to be vulnerable. It would be nice to think that society would protect mothers from all the things that can harm them. But look around you: how many employers are empathetic when an employee’s child is sick? How many government programs are there for reduced or free child care or health insurance? How many women get the child support that is due them? How many jobs provide paid maternity leave or are still there for them when mothers come back to work? And then there are the fathers. What kind of support do they receive as they struggle to share in the parenting process? Are they going to pull women up or be dragged down themselves by their desire to be as involved as possible in childrearing?
These are all issues which need to be addressed by feminism if it is to remain relevant. Because someday today’s feminists won’t be here. What kind of people will they leave behind?
Read “Raising the Baby Question” about the disconnect between mothers and feminism.