Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day and why I'm a feminist

by Josh Franklin

Today is Mother's Day (Happy Mother's Day!), and it was a good occasion for me to think about the reasons that I'm a feminist. My own mom is one of the most impressive people I know, and I'm grateful for so much that she's done for me. I won't ask you to indulge me in an online speech about how wonderful she is, but I'll satisfy myself with saying that she's incredibly hardworking, strong and dedicated, and knowing that even a part of what she does is for me is truly humbling.

I think that my mom finds my feminism puzzling. When I told her that I was traveling to Florida to attend a conference of sexual assault survivor advocates, she seemed a bit bewildered, and she seems troubled that I want to spend my summer researching gender-based activism in healthcare. And yet, so much of my feminist conviction is rooted in my deep respect for my mother. I think the truth is that the impression left by one strong woman like her is a powerful rebuke of cultural messages of misogyny, if you're really paying attention.

I read an essay by Courtney Martin a while ago, that argued that feminism as a political unity is a thing of the past. As she put it:

I don't think there will ever be a global, or even national, uprising of women focused on one singular goal. There will be no singular feminist agenda. There will be no women's movement. And that's not a bad thing. Because there will be thousands upon thousands of women -- young and old alike -- waking up tomorrow with big ideas, lots of resources and communication tools, and plenty of conviction that they have the right and responsibility to make the world better.

I don't want to address the question of the political future of feminism right now. In my own privileged and myopic involvement with that politics, I focus on the kind of controversial issues that we write about endlessly on this blog--abortion, the hookup culture, and so forth. It's easy for me to forget how remarkable women like my mother are, and I want to take today to appreciate that. So without any more theoretical nonsense, thanks mom. Happy Mother's Day!

4 Comments:

At May 11, 2009 at 4:56 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

I disagree. While motherhood is a great accomplishment, is is all too often a sacrifice forced upon women by the Patriarchal society, and a means to keep them sidelined from society and the workforce. Feminism is all about elevating the importance of career at the expense of family (inevitable as a woman has only so much time), and this fetishization of breeding is a mistake. Motherhood is difficult, but so is staying in the kitchen.

 
At May 11, 2009 at 5:11 PM , Blogger Franklinster said...

Angela,

I usually try not to comment on my own posts, but I'm a bit confused about what you disagree with, although I see what you're saying about 'motherhood' being a means of social control.

Just to be clear, the main analytical point of my post was that I appreciate my mom for the wonderful person she is. Although I don't feel like I need to justify this, it might gratify you to know that I know of few other people who are as dedicated to their work--their career--than my mother, and this is one of the reasons I admire her so much.

I don't agree with your claim that "feminism is all about elevating the importance of career at the expense of family." I appreciate your critique of the "fetishization of breeding," but I'm disappointed that you politicized what I wrote by making such an unfair generalization.

-Josh Franklin

 
At May 11, 2009 at 7:47 PM , Anonymous Jackie said...

Wow, I'm super offended by what you wrote, Angela. To me, feminism is about having the choice and an equal opportunity to pursue what you love freely--whether it's career, family, or both.

 
At May 11, 2009 at 10:31 PM , Blogger Brenda said...

Angela,

I think there's an extreme type of feminism that attempts to outright ignore the basic biological differences between men and women. I think that is a detriment to women, because it is normally an attempt to make women more like men rather than men more like women.

If anything, men can learn a lot from mothers, and men should be responsible for taking charge in the home and leading family life just as women do. It isn't fetishization so much as it is a recognition of the biological role that females play in society. Women shouldn't have to give up as much as men take on.

 

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