Motherhood.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.58.08 PMAlia

When I was in 7th grade, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  When she asked what the doctors thought the causes were they said “it could be a number of things, but given your age and lifestyle, it’s probably a result of how late you had children.”  My mom was the first to go to college in her family and paid her way through it herself, then worked for 10 years before she got married at the age of 29 and had her first child at 31.  I’ll never forget being at the doctors office with her and hearing this news – responding with “Are you fucking serious? You’re telling me I had children TOO late and therefore have breast cancer? You’re full of shit.” and stormed out.  (Sorry for the crude language.. meet my mother!!)

I thought of this almost the entire time I was reading Hollingworth’s article, and as soon as she said “One also reads that women who bear children live longer on the average than those who do not, which is taken to mean that child-bearing has a favorable influence on longevity. It may well be that women who bear many children live longer than those who do not, but the only implication probably is that those women who could not endure the strain of repeated births died young, and thus naturally did not have many children.” I was like, yup, there it is! 

So much of this article relates to what we have discussed in our class on how we socialize women and how women are led to believe that child rearing is not only their purpose, but will provide some form of life long satisfaction and worth.  I really appreciated Hollingworth’s point on ‘maternal instinct’ and how it should be unifying all women.  When I read this and considered that maternal instinct is a fundamental assumption that women will all specially bond with their child, are caring, compassionate, patient, etc.. and any other characteristics that are assumed of women – it then would make perfect sense that society would feel disturbed when a woman does not act with these characteristics, especially if she has a child.

I really appreciated the image that Gracie posted, of the magazine cover stating “Are You Mommy Enough?”  Which speaks to both Hollingworth’s societal pressures of motherhood, and Walzer’s study – which was completely fascinating.  It exemplified the pressures that mothers feel, beyond acting a certain way but the very intense stigmas around motherhood and maternal instinct.  I thought the section on worrying, not only about their child but about what others thought of them was spot on. (pg 223) People really do not look at women and say “oh what a great mother”, but typically turn to them with criticisms.  When it comes to fathers, however, we have discussed how “good” fathers are really any fathers that are seen playing or interacting with their children; our society applauds them.  The standards for “good motherhood” and “good fatherhood” are completely skewed, bias and inaccurate, even in private settings as demonstrated in Walzer’s study when she evaluated the division of diaper duties on pg 226.

I can relate to both of these articles very much and as someone who came from a very unbalanced home (mother and father responsibility wise) find both of these articles to be extremely accurate.  For my images, I was curious about magazine covers and googled “pregnancy on magazine covers” – trying to google something thats somewhat gender neutral (if thats possible) and seeing if any fathers come up in these photographs (knowing that this is a very heteronormative topic).  The result speaks for itself…

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3 thoughts on “Motherhood.

  1. Haris Kuljancic
    I really liked what you had to say about how mothers receive a great deal of criticism as well as some praise, but fathers are looked at almost always being good. This reminded me of the idea of a mother-daughter bond and a father-son relationship. Why did we group these accordingly? Some say it’s because mother’s and daughters are biologically meant to have a close relationship, but I don’t buy it. I believe it’s more of what we are socialized to believe and what we grew up learning. I was always closer to my dad goring up because of my love for soccer, cars, and other manly things that we could relate to. I lived in a traditional Bosnian household where the wife takes care of the house work and the men watch TV. or do stuff outside. It wasn’t until I lost my mom to cancer last year that I realized how horrible this environment actually was. I always wish I could go back and help her out after a long day of work and do the dishes or anything at all, but I was told to let the ladies do that kind of work.

  2. I think the idea of motherhood being a way to socialize women is crucial and so hidden to so many people. As a society we continue to separate the roles that men and women are supposed to play into two distinct categories. There is now the clear vision that the men must make more money while the women must raise the children. This process has gone so far as to create guilt in women that doesn’t typically exist for men due to the insane amount of pressure that society has put on women to have children and be the more involved parent. Any woman who does not want to have children is outside of the norm and judged as a strange case. Most people will probably ask what’s wrong with her and why she doesn’t want a family where as with a guy it is much more acceptable and sometimes expected for him to not feel a strong desire to have children.

  3. Luis Ramos

    Going off of what others have said in regards to the treatment and criticism women receive when they state that they don’t want any children, I remember the way my family reacted when my sister brought up the fact that she indeed did not envision herself having any kids of her own. Mexican families tend to be HUGE… and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

    My sister is 25 years old and was the first female out of my entire family to actually go to college. My parents we’re strict on her growing up because she was a female, plus they expected a lot from her since she was their first child. It was sad to see them deny her the chance to go out of state to study at schools that were willing to pay full-ride for her, and instead, forced her to attend Texas A&M University, which ultimately ended up being two hours away from Houston, TX. They feared that she would commit so many mistakes. My sister had in mind what those anxieties could be, and ultimately ended up deciding that she would never become a mother.

    I was shocked when I found out just because my sister was a well-known babysitter in my neighborhood, plus she was always seen playing around with children. As for my parents and the rest of the family, they just immediately judged her and labeled her as crazy.

    I don’t think that any woman who does not want to have children should be considered to be outside of the norm and judged as a strange case. At this point in time, everything should be acceptable. We’re in that age of time where things have totally flipped around and what once was out of the norm is actually normal.

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