In this week’s reading, Hollingworth examined the social devices that impel women to have children and the effect that these social devices have on women’s well being both physically and mentally. The second reading by Susan Walzer, “Thinking About the Baby: Gender and Divisions in Infant Care” gave a more up to date discussion about the toll that child rearing has on the mental state of mothers as well as the marital satisfaction of parents.
In Hollingworth’s discussion of social devices, although there are many social devices that she mentions that still apply to modern day society, I also saw some devices I am not sure would be currently applicable to American society. For example, Hollingworth mentions how child bearing is “necessary for tribal or national existence and aggrandizement”. Although the birth of new members of the next generation is vital for a society’s continuation and a nation’s stability, I think in America we have more of an issue of overpopulation than of being under populated. Hollingworth mentions how dangerous and life threatening child birth is for a mother, so I did some research into the subject because I expected that there would only be a very slim amount of women that die from childbirth in a developed country like America. In 2008, for every 100,000 live births, 16.7 resulted in a maternal death making the US placed 39 in the world. This statistic is extremely frightening especially after all the time between when Hollingworth wrote her article and today, child birth is still very dangerous for women. I would argue this is because the life of a child is much more important than the life of a mother in the eyes of the government as well as the medical world. Hollingworth also makes an interesting connection between war and motherhood. “The fact is that childbearing is in many respects analogous to the work of soldiers: it is necessary for tribal or national existence; it means great sacrifice of personal advantage; it involves danger and suffering, and, in a certain percentage of cases, the actual loss of life”. I do agree with a lot of these connections, and it scary to think that motherhood so closely resembles war on this many fronts. However, I believe that many will argue that soldiers fight for the love of their country while mothers child rear for the love and well being of her child. I believe in most cases that the love for an individual is much stronger than that of the love for a large group of people. Therefore, in some parts of Hollingworth’s argument I believe she does not factor in the love that a mother can have for her child and is some regards minimizes it.
I connected much more with Walzer’s article. When reading “Thinking about the Baby” I couldn’t help but think about my mother giving up her career for me when I was born. My mother was a social worker who counseled and helped recovering alcoholics and addicts in rehabs and halfway houses. When she became pregnant with me, she dropped her whole career because someone had to stay home with me as an infant, and my father was being paid significantly more and received health insurance, housing, and the promise that I would be able to attend the school he worked at for free later down the road with his job. So like many American mothers, she felt because she was not being paid as much she would have to stay home with me. However, now, after all of her children are pretty much grown up, she is having a difficult time trying to get a job now that the market is much more competitive in our area. She always tells me, “I wish I could go back to school” or something along those lines, and I can’t help but feel guilty for her sacrifice. Becoming a mother is a sacrifice on so many fronts. You lose economic independence; usually it is a set back on your career path, and not to mention that it is draining both physically and mentally. Being a mother is far from easy, not like the way media and society portrays it to be. “Thinking about the Baby” shows how women are the ones mostly worrying and caring for their children, men are just there to help. And because it is a “women job” to raise children, its difficulty is minimized by society. Motherhood is emotionally draining as mentioned in Walzer’s article because women are taught that worrying is a large part of motherhood. Women worry about the baby, men worry about the money. But my question is can you even call yourself a parent when you are not equally involved in a child’s upbringing? Are all men parents, or are some just helpers?