What Does a Feminist Mother Look Like? Part 2

Continuing the series in which I answer the questions posted at Blue Milk (sadly interrupted by my technical difficulties). Today is Part 2.  You can see Part 1 here.

5. Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?

I don’t think so. I wish that my children had seen me out in the world earning more money and that “daddy goes out to work, mommy works at home” didn’t seem to translate into “mommy has less power in the world.” But I don’t think that is me failing – I think that is the society failing me and I try to make sure my children know that.

I hope my kids see that part of being a feminist is engaging in the feminist struggle.  They definitely see me struggling.  The challenge often is showing my anger without letting my kids think that I am angry at them for being a force that holds me back.  I often tell them that how society treats me because I am a mother holds me back and it isn’t their fault- but I know there are times they blame themselves.  How could they not?  It may be in those moments when I can’t hide my unhappiness from my children that I am failing as a feminist mother.  Or maybe not. I visit this question a lot.

6. Has identifying as a feminist mother ever been difficult? Why?

No.  I think there are people who don’t understand what I mean when I identify as a feminist mother.  It is difficult that my political positions as a feminist mother are often dismissed.  I am infuriated by the Bill Mahers of the world who deny that motherhood is a political identity as important as any other.

And there are people who think I can’t be a feminist if I [fill in the blank].  “You can’t be a feminist if you breastfeed on demand.”  “You can’t be a feminist if you let having kids change or limit your career choices.” “You can’t be a feminist if you homeschool your kids.”  Well, I can and I am. And … well … fuck you for thinking you can decide whether I am a good enough feminist.

7. Motherhood involves sacrifice, how do you reconcile that with being a feminist?

How are sacrifice and feminism difficult to reconcile?  Sacrifice is part of life, part of living in society, part of being in human relationships.  If my children thought motherhood involved sacrifice but fatherhood didn’t, then I would have failed as a feminist mother.

Feminism is not just about women having more or women having as much as white men. It is about fairness and balance.  It means that the oppressed have more and that the oppressors have less.  There is nothing anti-feminist about sacrifice – feminism requires sacrifice.  Feminism is not the right to become the oppressor – it is the elimination of oppression.  Switching places with the oppressor, or replacing yourself in the social hierarchy with someone else, is not feminist.

It is anti-feminist if I am the only one sacrificing for my children. Our society needs to recognize that we all need to sacrifice for all children and redistribute obligation accordingly.

8. If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?

I don’t know how he feels.  I have always been a feminist and, as far as I know, so has he.

As for impact on him, he works harder on maintaining the household than he would (I guess) were I not a feminist. I believe maintaining the household (cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry) is not part of mothering and that he must do as much of that as I do even if I am home with the kids.  If I were not a feminist, I might think I had some biological imperative to do dishes and then he wouldn’t have to.

There is more but it is private.

The last two questions in Blue Milk‘s meme are biggies so I am saving them for a post of their own. Check back for Part 3 in which I will give my take on:

9. If you’re an attachment parenting mother, what challenges if any does this pose for your feminism and how have you resolved them?


10. Do you feel feminism has failed mothers and if so how? Personally, what do you think feminism has given mothers?

If you are interested in what you are reading, please comment and tell your friends about this blog.  I’ll try to keep my technological mishaps to a minimum and keep the posts coming.