Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Children of Women

Over at the Family Scholars Blog, the anti-equality-leaning Elizabeth Marquardt posted a short snippet she entitled "Daughters of the Second Wave." This post was an excerpt of Rebecca Walker criticizing her famous feminist mother, Alice Walker, for "offering herself up as a mother figure" to everyone but her own daughter.

I don't know what Elizabeth's motives were in posting the piece since she didn't provide commentary. But, given the title she gave it, I would infer that she was making a statement about how Famous Feminists Are Bad Mothers because they did not prioritize motherhood.

Indeed, many anti-feminists and non-feminists (not necessarily Elizabeth, here) take a certain delight in pointing out feminists who supposedly turn out to be awful mothers and how that, in turn, means that they have utterly failed at being women.

Yet, couldn't a similar criticism/mocking be made of Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative anti-feminist crusader who hired nannies to raise her children while she campaigned against equal rights for women?

What about Sarah Palin? Shouldn't she be at home taking care of her children, as Rick Santorum suggested, instead of opting for a high profile public career? Aren't her children missing out on Having An Awesome Highly-Involved Mother?

My point in raising these question is a rhetorical one.

Children might indeed miss a female parent just as they miss a male parent who isn't around much, but rarely do commentators suggest that male parents who are public figures should be made to feel guilty for having public aspirations that take time away from parenting.

Rarely do commentators suggest that a man should stifle his professional ambitions and talent because he has children at home.

Nosy commentators who judge other women's choices while letting men off the hook for the same behavior hurt women of all political persuasions. Within their commentary is the subtext that a female parent is the Real Parent while a male parent is a Less Involved Secondary Parent.

What if, instead, the responsibility for Being A Real Parent was spread to two people, instead of just one?

No comments: