Does Feminism Overlook Motherhood for Abortion Rights?

While mainstream media often try to pit feminism against motherhood (our stance: that’s bullshit), there’s no doubt that conflict exists for working mothers. Guest blogger Guinevere A. Murphy, Ph.D. reveals how returning to her high-level career in science after giving birth to a child made her question, then value, feminism.

The beeping machines and the loud voices in the crowded delivery room fell silent in the instant I saw the tiny, crying baby. My baby. A long minute later, they placed the wet, pink, perfect little human in my arms. A warmth and light effused my being, and without even a slight hint of cliché, I thought wonderingly, “This is the best moment of my life,” with an absolute certainty and fervor beyond anything I’d ever experienced.

Everything changed in that moment. I had to separate my life into pre-Evie and post-Evie epochs, like B.C. and A.D. The overwhelming love I felt for my baby gave me a clarity and sense of purpose I hadn’t realized was missing before.

I came to realize after Evie’s birth that my devotion to my career in science had become in large part an act, one that I put on, among other factors, because of my whole-hearted belief in what is popularly attributed to a feminist ideal of the high-achieving career woman, but I’ve since come to realize originates more from an out-of-control, greed-dominated corporate culture. Marissa Mayer famously went back to work after just a “few weeks,” and worked from home while still healing from delivery. Her decision to do this largely contributes to the idea of motherhood as merely a minor bump in the road of one’s career trajectory.

I went back to the office at six weeks. It’s not hyperbole to say that my every instinct cried out against walking out the door most mornings, and nights I mourned if I was home even five minutes late, for the precious hour we had together before bedtime. My experience illustrates why feminism is still needed in the U.S., one of four countries in the world without mandated paid maternity leave. This angle wasn’t lost on me at the time, but above all, I felt a furious, overwhelming sense of betrayal, by the feminist movement.  [Read more...]

What Working Moms Can Learn From Marissa Mayer

There has been a lot of talk about Marissa Mayer’s ascension to the top spot at Yahoo!—and her being pregnant while doing it. Most women, feminist or not, cheered the news as yet another fracture in the corporate glass ceiling—and one that puts a powerful face on a working mother to boot!

But her face looks a lot different than that of most career moms. Mayer talked about her maternity leave as if it were a mild inconvenience: it would be brief and she would work throughout it. But the only way she will be able to do that is with the kind of help and resources many working moms don’t have. While I understand Mayer’s commitment to her new job, I do worry that such declarations (issued as if to assume anything less would be unconscionable) hurt working moms everywhere and further prevent the U.S. from adopting a realistic family leave policy.

[Read more...]

Stay-At-Home Moms Are Feminists Too

Remember Elizabeth Wurtzel? Quick recap: she wrote a book about depression and addiction called Prozac Nation (maybe you saw the movie), got famous, then posed naked on the cover of her next book, Bitch, flipping us all off. She’s now a lawyer and one would assume has a slightly more settled life than the memoir-making chaos that led to her early publishing success.

But she wants you to remember that middle finger. She’s flipping it again, and this time it’s directed at women. Namely, those who choose domestic responsibilities over career ones. In a new essay in The Nation, Wurtzel blames who she calls “1% moms” for the failure of feminism and the reason the war on women exists.

Yeah, wow.

The bulk of her argument is directed at the Desperate Housewife set—the moms with expense accounts (provided by their husbands), nannies and acrylic fingernails that eschew the dirty work of motherhood. Some of them have Ivy League degrees. Others just lucked out marrying a rich guy.

[Read more...]

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