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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Choice, Motherhood, and Being a Woman.

By: Liberate Zealot

Sometimes it is difficult for me to reconcile my feminist identity with that of me as a part of my family. Other times it's it nearly impossible to reconcile my upbringing with that of a woman (in the United States).

No matter the aspect of myself, or my actions and beliefs, there seems to be an incongruence.  This touches every part of my life, but for most it is the idea that my identity as a person is not completely recognized, within society or even my family.

I imagine this is a recognition many people experience.  Those of us who are in some way outside, be it because we're queer, or people of color, or disabled, and non-Christian or women.  And rebelling against the established norms only exacerbates our lack or personhood and belonging.

So often society/politics/my family makes me feel incomplete. A not fully actualized version of a person.  And oddly enough it is my upbringing that makes me able to recognize this incongruence.

I was brought up to be opinionated; and confident in my voice and experience and opinions. I was brought up to see myself as a being of worth, as a full and independent entity. And yet, as I age, that full and independent worth and identity is stripped from me.

Once upon a time I saw myself with children, even if I never had a partner.  But as I've left my upper middle class upbringing, and as political and social spheres has turned more pro-fetus and anti-woman, I've experienced a great change in that regard.  Now I know I'll never be willingly pregnant or a mother.  And when I expressed that to my (mainly feminist) parents the question wasn't centered around what had made me change my mind, but what my male partner thought of this. As if my decisions about my body and life were incomplete without a man's opinion.

And I have a brother who goes to pro-life marches and studies to become a priest in the Catholic Church.  And I have so many other family members who seeks to do right and help others but cannot conceive an existence of worth without it being one in line with their own views and beliefs.

And these views and beliefs are the ones that say I should be incomplete without offering up my body and life to motherhood.  That my male partner is the primary actor in our partnership.  That to be a true  women I must be a mother.  And that to be a mother I must sacrifice all for my children.  And that my body, mind, and desires are secondary to that.

And so many of them cannot understand my virulent objection of these ideas.

They cannot understand that my primary objective to motherhood is that of being unwilling to sacrifice my personhood. Instead they convince themselves that it is about a lack of love and understanding of children (despite my decade of work with children).

I cannot conceive of being pregnant in a country where so many people prize the life and humanity of a pregnant person as secondary to the fetus they willingly (or unwillingly) carry.  And that this is a devaluation of humanity that only effects pregnant people.  No one else is expected to sacrifice their organs or living conditions for another person.

And I cannot conceive of being a parent, a mother, in a world that devalues mothers.  Where father's are praised where mothers in the same situations are hated and mocked.  Where women are hated for being working mothers, or for needing more than motherhood to experience a complete life.

I am a person, a human, first and foremost.  And many aspects of my identity means that society seeks to take that personhood away from me.   And I cannot imagine willingly ceding more of my personhood.

Some people must give up parts of their personhood to live the lives they want, and I cannot blame them for such.  Certainly I have done the same in different areas.  Some do not see these identities or lives as a ceding of their personhood.  Some glory in the chance of rebellion.

All of these lives and choices have worth.  And I hope, with all my heart, that they are centered around a freely made choice.

I just wish society recognized the choices of women.  And saw us as full humans worthy and capable of making choices about our own lives.


  1. Just out of curiosity, is this a total unwillingness to have children (or a child) or a conditional one? I know people who do not want any children ever, under any circumstances. I wondered if you fitted into that category, or if you are suggesting that you would feel differently if you lived in a different society.

    1. At this point it's impossible to fully separate a total unwillingness/conditional one.

      I love children, I think I could be a good parent and if I ever had a child I would love it.
      That said I'm very happy being child free and I'll be happy if I'm always child free. I feel no desire to have a child in my life. I like the freedom being child free offers people.

      I'm adamantly opposed to pregnancy or having children because of what you'd call the conditions. But as these conditions are a basic part of society I don't see them as conditional.

      I know some people who want/have children and love having them, and hate societies attitudes to pregnant women and mothers. I'm very happy that this is a juxtaposition I don't have to deal with. I'm not certain I'd be able to overcome my horror at the societal conditions even if I did want to become a parent.

    2. I only just spotted the irony. Doh! So, they're cool with a man rejecting fatherhood in favour of the priesthood, but all women must want to become biological mothers ...

      ... doesn't quite add up, does it?

  2. Very emotive blog. Agree with you 100%. I like how you are simplifying complex issues and making them crystal clear for even someone who would disagree with you to hopefully understand. Defining person-hood as pro-fetus and anti-woman is true. We live in a country and era where if a woman had to describe to a woman what the Bechdel Test was in a movie, the mere definition of the Bechdel Test fails the Bechdel Test. If you ever have the time or desire, feel free to check out my blog, I would be honored by any of your feedback. Plus I read your blogs when I can because I don't feel so isolated in what I experience. Do you ever check out Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency YouTube channel? Or have seen the documentaries: "Miss Representation" and/or "Tough Guise"?


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