Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mothers are not lesser Women

I am severely disturbed by the prevailing attitudes with respect to mothers – in short I think that there is far too much enthusiasm for telling women who happen to be mothers, what to do with their bodies, and that the person to whom the body belongs has long ago become an afterthought. In short, I fear that we have let an entire group of women (and a rather large one at that), become a lesser class of people because they have taken it upon themselves to reproduce – to ensure that there is a future generation. We have allowed these women, to be reduced to their breasts, vaginas and uteri – and that is wrong – because it neglects the most important body part a woman has, her brain.

Yes, having a healthy baby matters – it matters a lot, and it particularly matters to mothers. However, having a healthy mother also matters – and that is where extolling the virtues of specific choices – like vaginal delivery and breastfeeding, neglects the person who must undertake those activities. That is where having performance measures that reflect these choices is doing a huge disservice to the health (and particularly the mental health) of mothers.

We have come to a place, where rather than informing the individual woman of the risks and benefits of her choices and allowing her to make the decisions that best meet her needs (and those of her family) and respecting those choices – we have told her what choices to make. By extolling specific choices, we tell certain mothers that they have succeeded, but we have also told certain other mothers that they have failed. What is sad, is that many of the women who we have told are failures – haven’t failed at all, rather they have made the choices that best meet their needs and those of their family best. Yet, there is a lot of stigma and shame that attaches to things like having a caesarean section or formula feeding a child.

There has been a lot of lip service to caring about the needs of mothers – but very little recognition of a mother’s need for bodily autonomy. Is it any wonder that many mothers find themselves depressed?


  1. That doesn't really end with how children are born or fed. Or start there either for that matter...whether or not a woman even has children is the wrong choice. If she has them, she is selfishly overpopulating the planet. If she works and has them, she's putting a strain on her coworkers and expecting special treatment now that she has a family. If she stays home with them, she's a useless waste of space with no job skills dependent on a man to bring home the bacon.

    Then there are those women who choose not to have children. They are selfish too because they just want to spend all of their money on themselves and have fancy clothes and go on vacation all the time. They want to sleep late on weekends, those lazy things. They are also overly ambitious bitchy ball-breakers who want to be CEOs and oust men from the corporate world, and feminize Wall St.

    Then those poor selfish infertile women. Selfishly wanting to bear their own children, when there are all those homeless orphans! There are so many neglected, special needs children, why can't those who can't have children see that and just adopt?

    See? Evidently, we're all selfish, no matter what we do. Sad, isn't it?

    (disclaimer--I think it is obvious, but in case it isn't, I hold none of the opinions/stereotypes above, merely quoting what I read in the media a lot these days)

  2. It is sad - and sadder still are the women who mud-sling at other women.

    1. Absolutely...I hope you do not think I was mud-slinging at other women. I was commenting on it, since I've heard/read the above from both men and women.

      For the record, I fall into the 3rd category first, wicked selfish for doing IVF! Why DIDN'T I "just adopt?" And then the first one...I work full time, so I'm selfishly expecting my coworkers to pick up my slack. Oh and I suck as a mom too, because I had and epidural, formula fed and then I out-sourced the raising of my children to "strangers." What haven't I mentioned? My non-motherhood achievements which are a major part of my identity. :)

      I have sons, I hope to raise them to respect all people regardless of sex. I think the notions of gender roles are slowly breaking down in the Western world...very slowly, but its happening. Of course we've come a long way since the first and second waves of feminism, for example, but this issue is another aspect of feminism I believe. Mothers aren't doormats, they are women and their brains don't exit their uteri with their babies.

  3. I absolutely did not think that you were - just commenting that much of the criticism faced by women come from other women. I firmly believe in choice.