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Archive for the ‘Political Rant’ Category

As a woman and as a mother I am currently working on two things. 1.) Understanding what racism is, where it is, how it came to be in all it’s different forms, how to spot it, how to apply a language to it, to see it in my own thoughts and ideas, to spot it in other’s when it’s not glaring but instead subtle and seemingly “harmless,” and how to give this knowledge and language to my children. These are things I’ve been working on since my early 20’s but I still have so much to learn. AND 2.) Having the right attitude about food so that my children have a healthy relationship with it. This means taking a long hard look at how I react to food, talk about food, prepare food, and even how and when I eat food. This is especially important to me since we are having a daughter… not that men aren’t affected by body image and their relationship with food… but because my daughter will look to me to learn how to view her own body and what she eats. What I learn, inevitably, will affect both our children. And, I’m of the belief that our attitude towards food affects them as much if not more than what they are actually eating as they grow up.

These are going to be personal goals that I will not ever be able to stop working on. I was introduced to an excellent website (blog?) to get me started on goal #1 called, Anti-Racist Parent – there is also a link to this site on my blogroll. This is a site that everyone should bookmark and read regularly, not just parents. I’ll also be checking out the book, “Let Them Eat Cake!:: The Case Against Controlling What Your Children Eat” by Robert E. Kleinman.

Wish me knowledge!

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Mother Earth

Just as I was really starting to feel alone in my thoughts with the last post, I got my “Mothering” magazine in the mail. My favorite writer on the topic of motherhood is Peggy O’Mara. I feel like she puts my feelings into words that I’m still searching for and may not have found otherwise for years. The title of her article in this issue is, “Reclaiming a New Archetype.” In it she writes:

The view of mother as victim does not match the experience of giving birth or that of adopting a baby. A woman is transformed by these experiences. Mothering unlocks in her an instinctual intelligence that generates confidence in her own authority. Inevitably, this increased confidence changes the relationship between her and others. A woman who has given birth is not easily intimidated. A woman who has adopted a baby is fearless.

She goes on to say, and I have read this many times before as well as experienced it, “Not wanting to be dominated by others is a legacy of the new mother, because in becoming a mother, a woman also gives birth to herself.”

The article talks about how our culture has fallen from viewing motherhood as a strong archetype, such as Mother Earth, the original model of the mother, to a stereotype of a woman who has given up “a life” to become a mother. The stereotype of mother is a woman who is making great sacrifices to stay home with her children, the martyr, or a victim.

While many accept that mothers can be creative and that mothering is in itself a creative endeavor, the dark side of the stereotype suggests that any distraction from the task of motherhood compromises a woman’s devotion. We can be ambivalent about whether or not it’s OK for mothers to have separate lives as women or other serious pursuits. What this dilemma highlights is the stereotypical idea that being a mother means self-sacrifice to the point of self-destruction or martyrdom. Having a life of one’s own, paid or unpaid, threatens the stereotype that mothers must be willing to be consumed.

Peggy really puts things into perspective for me. I teeter back and forth from being focused on mothering to thinking about and doing activities that are completely separate from my mothering experience. When I’m out doing my own thing away from family and in the position of being asked, so what do you do? I feel insecure. Not because I don’t love my life right now (well, most of the time anyway) but because I’ve internalized these negative stereotypes of mothers.

When I hear a new mother go off about how she doesn’t want her life to change because she’s had a baby (I did this) or she doesn’t want to become a “soccer mom” (a term meant to be derogatory) I know that she too has internalized this hatred and disrespect for motherhood.

Now, this isn’t a very well thought out theory, but, I would gander to say that in some ways feminism has left motherhood behind and possibly contributed to the negative stereotypes of the mother. However, it is also feminism that will take back the original strong archetype of The Mother. What’s that saying?  Two steps forward and one step back.

When I go out and spend time with friends that are mutual to Hal and I, I find it incredibly insulting when someone badgers my husband as to why he’s not going. Yet, when I do not accompany Hal, no questions are asked about it – because of-course, I’m home taking care of our son. So, this expectation that I stay home and make the social sacrifice for the good of our family is acceptable and expected but when Hal does it people think I’m being a selfish tart and he’s a GREAT father (which he is but that’s not because I have a social life). The irony of this… I don’t find staying home while Hal goes out with friends to be a “sacrifice,” and neither does Hal.

Oh boy… I’m starting to ramble so I’ll stop right here. Maybe I’ll have more to write later.

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This is an awesome article on the topic of activist men and how fighting for “the cause” doesn’t address their issues with abusing women and/or misogynistic speak/mentality.

When I read the above article behind that link, it brought back so many memories of how I would feel about men in the political environment I was involved with in my early thru mid 20’s.

It’s a long article but if you are interested in the subject of “progressive” men displaying sexist and abusive behavior, you should read the whole thing.

Subcultures are like mini-me’s of the culture at large (as Hal would say). Just because a man is able to write a paper about or talk about women’s political issues and struggles doesn’t mean they have addressed these issues in a conscious and personal way. These men are raised by men who where raised by men who view women as second class. You don’t read Bell Hooks or any other feminist author and automatically shed all those years of conditioning. Just because a man can quote Rosa Luxemburg doesn’t make him a feminist. It is how you treat women, view women, talk to women, and have relationships with women that show your true feelings about women. It’s not just about how men treat women when they like, love, or lust for them. It’s also (and primarily) about how men treat women when they either 1. Don’t want and/or need anything from them and/or 2. Dislike them.

I need to add that this system of thinking also applies to how women treat and think of other women. Yes, there is less physical and sexual abuse happening between women but women do have the ability to lay a heavy oppressive/judgmental hand on other women – and often this happens without even considering it to be misogynistic or abusive. Women also live in the same patriarchal society that men do and are affected by it as well.

 

 

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