Women Worry about Children and Men Worry about Money

Gina Pol

I found it very disturbing in Hollingworth’s article that women were portrayed as if their one and only purpose were to bear and rear children to create families. Hollingworth discusses how the bearing of children is painful, yet necessary for women because it was their “zone of requirement” to produce children and have families. Society has certain expectations for what is the “normal woman” and these expectations are the forms of social control that pressures women to have children and possess the maternal instinct. If you do not have children or do not have a maternal instinct, then you are either an abnormal woman or a bad mother, which is NOT true at all. It is not society’s fault that women are given this responsibility, but it is due to the “natural physiological handicaps of woman” that prevents them from having power or any other forms of control. Once again, it is natural that women are in their position, not that it is institutionally driven.

While I did find Hollingworth’s article to be a bit outdated, one of the devices that I find to be extremely relevant until this day is public opinion. Hollingworth stated that newspapers were the primary sources of information during that time period, but today it is social media.  Below is a Facebook photo that was posted by an extremely fit mother name Maria Kang after she had three children ages two, three, and eight months. The caption on the image states, “What’s your excuse?” targeting other mothers who have had children, but have not loss the weight gained from childbirth. While the image itself is an issue as it is pressuring other mothers to quickly lose weight after having children, the photo also received several negative remarks on social media. One of the negative remarks described Maria Kang as a bad mother because if she had time to work out, then she definitely was not taking care of her children the way she should have been. I think this image and the public opinion surrounding the image reinforces the double bind that women have. It is seen negatively when women have gained too much weight after childbirth, yet it is also seen negatively when women lose too much weight after childbirth. Women cannot be “too fit” or “too fat” after childbirth, so what is the middle ground and why should there have to be a middle ground?

Fit Mom

Walzer’s article was a more updated article as it discusses the concerns that both men and women had when they became parents. One of the main themes that I took out of the article is what men and women were worried about. Women worried about their children and men worried about making money. If a woman did not worry about her child, she would be considered a bad mother but if a man did not worry about his child, he was not considered a bad father.  It was just an automatic responsibility for women to care for their child more than men were. On the other hand, men were concerned about not making enough money support their family. I think what also holds truth is the stigma that men receive if they are a stay-at-home dad. The differences in concern that men and women have show how divided they are on their tasks and exactly how this affects their mental state.

Here is the article that spoke about Maria Kang’s photo on the being a fit mom:


4 thoughts on “Women Worry about Children and Men Worry about Money

  1. Carly Ozarowski

    Gina, I really appreciate the double bind you brought up between being too fit after childbirth to not loosing enough weight. This just plays into the larger double bind mothers face daily, caring for your kids vs. keeping up physical appearances. It is impossible for a women to be caring for children full time and being working out and keeping up with their physical appearance as well, there needs to be some help from somewhere. But then again, women are again criticized if they receive help, because there is this made up idea that all women are perfectly made for raising children.

    1. Wow, thank you for posting that article. It’s crazy how on top of all that new mothers are going through (ex. balancing work and home or staying home full time–both sounding incredibly challenging) that their looks are still scrutinized. This makes me think about the “Mommy Wars” concept of women pressured to evaluate others as mothers and their household role. If a woman works, she’s abandoning her children; if she doesn’t work, she’s lazy. Either way, women lose. In Hay’s article, she includes a quote from a mother talking about her insecurities around other women:

      “I find myself, now that I’m not working, not to have as much in common [with other women who don’t have children]. We don’t talk that much because I don’t have much to talk about. Like I feel I’m not an interesting person anymore” (47).

      I can’t imagine now adding insecurities about pregnancy gain. In my opinion, a woman’s body is nobody’s business except her own. (It gets complicated if she’s severely hurting herself or hurting others as a result, such as alcohol or drug abuse, but someone’s weight should never be up for other’s critique.) Being on a college campus, I am so sick of overhearing others talking about how skinny/fat/whatever someone apparently is. I refuse to take part in those discussions.

      Emma Weisberg

  2. Haris Kuljancic
    Your picture caught my eye and i couldn’t help but show it to everyone that was sitting around me. “That’s terrible” they all exclaimed. It is pretty terrible indeed. It is just terrible how much pressure is put on a women to parent their children, clean the house, and look like a super model. In reality, if a women is concentrated on so much, something’s got to give, and if it isn’t all of the expectations placed on them, then it’s your relationship with them. The sheer unrealistic views we have are disgusting and should be reevaluated. I really wish society would start placing an emphasis on health rather than weight loss.

  3. Luis Ramos

    I like the question you posed in regards to finding out the middle ground for a “too fit” mother versus a “too fat” mother after childbirth. The image you shared is definitely… “BLAH!”

    I mean, why does it matter if a mother is “too fit” or “too fat”? How does that prove how good of a mother you are? I feel like every mother should be able to have some time of their own to just relax and do something good for themselves. Mothers are not rewarded as much as they should be, especially if they’re constantly at home taking care of the house chores or the kids.

    I just find the image to be totally patronizing… This double bind is outrageous. “What’s your excuse?” SERIOUSLY? I mean, for one, I know there are plenty of excuses that could prevent mothers from having the time to become fit after childbirth. But there shouldn’t be an excuse to be a fit mother, if you don’t want to or have to be a fit mother. There’s some re-evaluation that has to be done to end this double bind that exists within our society.

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