Feminism and Motherhood Are Not Incompatible. #feminismisformotherstoo
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I am appalled at the criticism that Michelle Obama has received lately: Talk of the First Lady “leaning out” and being a “Real-Feminist Nightmare.”
Why? Because Mrs. Obama isn’t acting on “policy” as much as certain feminists want her to? Because she called herself “Mom-in-Chief” and said that would be her most important job?
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In a much publicized post on Politico, Michelle Cottle says, “The woman is not going to morph into an edgier, more activist first lady. “ I guess launching the Let’s Move campaign to combat childhood obesity (which is a real problem and affects over 23 million children in the United States) doesn’t count as being an “activist.” I guess helping soldiers and their families doesn’t count. I guess all that some “feminists” want to see is the First Lady putting down her “Mom-in-Chief” hat as if her motherly duties were somehow not important.
Growing up, I was a self-proclaimed feminist. I believed with all my might that men and women should have the same rights and opportunities. I still do. I believe that women shouldn’t be told what to do with their reproductive organs. If a woman chooses or not to become a mother, that should be her choice, not the Church’s, not a man’s, not Congress or other elected bodies. Just as a woman can choose to be a mother, she can choose to not be a mother. One shouldn’t be exalted over the other. Why should being a mother be seen as an obstacle? A hindrance? Why should mothers earn less than childless women? Are we saying mothers aren’t worth as much?
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The fact that Mrs. Obama is criticized for being a MOTHER before tackling policy or is seen as not doing enough to influence policy is absurd. May I remind you that it was not Mrs. Obama who ran for President, it was her husband. Mrs. Obama always said it was important for her to take care of her children. She never hid that—and good for her. Being a mother is the one thing that you can never STOP being. You can stop being a lawyer, or a politician, you can make a career switch or retire… but you will be a mother until you die. Ms. Obama has shown the country where her priorities lie, and instead of supporting her in her choices, other women, under the guise of feminists, are criticizing her.
Michelle Obama is being criticized because she’s an Ivy-league educated woman who is not “doing enough.” If she weren’t educated, she would be criticized for that… oohh an “uneducated” First Lady. If she speaks too much, she’s labeled “Angry Black Woman.” If she doesn’t speak “enough,” she’s criticized. She’s criticized for wearing dresses and not wearing “power suits.” If Mrs. Obama were flying around the country and around the world talking policy, she would be criticized for not spending enough time with her girls—she’s criticized either way.
Feminists criticize Mrs. Obama, as if feminism, the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, is not something that Ms. Obama champions. By her actions, by her putting motherhood front and center, she is elevating it to what it should be: Revered. Women shouldn’t apologize about being mothers, about giving life, about making choices that put children first. As much as I believe in equal rights for men AND women, I want to make career choices that will not impede me from doing a good job as a mother. Does that make me less of a feminist? Absolutely not. Because, FEMINISM IS FOR MOTHERS TOO.
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Feministing columnist Lilith Dornhuber apparently said “Judging by Michelle Obama’s speech, [at the DNC] feminism is dead to the Democratic Party.” Is she living under a rock? Are she saying the Democratic Party, which supports a woman’s right to choose, is anti-feminist? Mand maybe she thinks that the GOP is a champion of women’s rights!
Why are feminists out to get mothers? We are all women. Some women choose to be mothers, and some don’t, and that’s OK. It’s not ok to think moms are less qualified, or don’t have the right to believe in equality for women. As Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director of Momsrising.org says, “demeaning moms demeans the vast majority of women.”
If feminists are so up in arms about Mrs. Obama’s and other women’s choices, perhaps they should and contemplate what would happen if all women decided to stop being mothers…
Feminism and motherhood are not incompatible. Women shouldn’t have to choose between the two. But, if women do have to choose, it is in everyone’s interest that we choose the latter.
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