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…