Bookish Spinsters is a weekly link-up where we discuss feminism based on a topic/question/prompt, and other feminist book bloggers and book tubers join in with their response. Feel free to join in at any time, I just ask that you link back to Bookish Spinsters. For more info and the list of future Bookish Spinsters topics, go to the Bookish Spinsters page.
This week's topic is Motherhood & Children.
I am yet to have children, but even so, I'm aware of the grief women get when it comes to children. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the best way to be a mother, and no matter what a mother does, someone's going to think she's doing it wrong.
We live in a world now where women are can work. We also live in a world where the cost of living is quite expensive. For many families, this means that the father and mother both have to work - whether they want to or not. There are also mothers who enjoy their job, and want to get back to work once their maternity leave is up. However, society seems to be of the opinion that working mothers are bad mothers. We still seem to have the old, antiquated idea that mothers should be home and looking after their children, which harks back to the idea of a woman's purpose and role as the care-giver; you raise your children, you care for your husband, you spend your life in the kitchen. The idea that mothers shouldn't work but be at home with their children has no bearing on whether they're bad mothers, because that's simply not the case. It's just an idea rooted heavily in sexism about A Woman's Place. There are going to be some mothers who would love to be at home with their children, but work because they simply can't afford to. They don't need the extra hassel of being made to feel others think they're doing something wrong when they don't have a choice.
But if a mother does choose to stay at home to raise her children, then she's lazy. Lazy. Firstly, bad mothers work or lazy mothers don't work, which is it? (If we discount that it's none of your
business what a mother/family chooses is right for them and their children.) Secondly, how on earth can you think a stay-at-home mother is lazy?! Raising children is hard bloody work! Seriously, think about all it entails to look after a baby or a young child each day, and then make that every day, every week, every month, every year - until the child is old enough to go to school. I really want to have children, and when I do, it money allows, I'd love to be able to stay at home with my children. For me, being a mother has always been my dream, I've never had an idea of the dream career. Being a mother is all I've wanted. Being there every day, feeding them, clothing them, bathing them, loving them, raising them, and everything in between. If I can't afford to stay at home, of course I will work, but I hate the idea of working for hours every day while someone else is looking after my children, when that's all I want to do. It's not laziness. Again, we live in an expensive world. And while some people can't afford to stay at home, some people can't afford to pay for someone else to look after their children while they go back to work.
Also, let's not forget that so far these views have been based on a stereotypical view of what a family looks like - one mother and one father - which just isn't the case for a lot of families. What about same-sex couples who have children? The idea of motherhood is completely turned on it's head then. If a child has two mothers, are you saying they should both be at home? If a child has two fathers, should they both be working? This idea just makes no sense! And what about single parents, where there are two parents who are not together, or children who have just one parent? And what about teenage mothers, who are dealing with something so incredibly scary to them, whether or not the father will stick around (which is not a worry for only teenage mums, I might add), and are also unbelievably judged; sex-shamed and with a lot of people around them thinking they're too young to be any good at being a mother. They have more to think about, it's not just whether they go to work or stay at home, it's whether they work, stay at home, or continue with their schooling in the hope they will be able to provide some kind of future for themselves and their child. You can't dictate who works and who stays at home. Each family has to decide what's right for them, for their family and for their finances.
Whatever the view on whether mothers work or stay at home, people do seem to agree on one thing - again it's that antiquated idea of a woman's role - all women should have children. The question of children always seems to come up at weddings, or shortly after a couple has got married. Or if a sibling or cousin has children, there's the comment of "you'll be next!" (the same comment used when a sibling/cousin gets married). I will agree that women's bodies are designed to carry children, but men's bodies are designed to impregnate women; society doesn't tell men it's their purpose in life to father children. It's completely unfair to hold to this idea that women should be mothers; for one thing, it suggests that women should not have the autonomy to make that decision for themselves - some women simply don't want to have children, and of course that is perfectly fine, but for another, but this is such a vicious idea for society to have when a woman can't have or is struggling to have children. Not only are these women who want children but are having problems are having to deal with how emotionally crushing is it to be told they can't have children/they have miscarried (possibly for the second, third, fourth (and so on) time), they also have to deal with how society makes them feel about the lack of a viable foetus in their womb, and their worth in soceity without one.
And while we're talking about autonomy of one's body, telling a woman she should have children when she doesn't want them is one thing, but telling a woman she must carry her foetus to term when she doesn't want it, and keeping her from safe proceedures to terminate that pregnancy, is completely another. I find it absolutely incredible that anyone feels that control over a woman's body belongs to anyone other than the woman herself. It's disgusting, and it makes me so angry, yet this is the law in so many places still, even in England's neighbour, Ireland. (I've written more on this subject on my personal blog here.)
It's the 21st Century, for crying out loud! Shouldn't we put all these ideas and all the judgement to bed, and let women and families decide what's best for them?
And now it's time for you to share your responses to this week's topic! Join the link-up below with the URL to your Bookish Spinsters post/video, along with your name and your email address. Then check out other people's posts and let's get talking!