Saturday, May 08, 2010

Feminism vs Faminism??? WTF?

Just came across a horrible article in The New York Observer: Faminist Theory.

The article creates a completely bogus divide between  feminists and any woman who has a family. It ignores the fact that feminism is just as much about the right to not have children and a family, as it is about being able TO have children and a family.
"The feminist battleground, with its slogans, marches, and campaigns for reproductive rights, has given way to the playground and the fight for lactation rights, stroller rights, school-system rights, unpasteurized milk rights, charter schools, birthing techniques, nutritional value of bagged lunches and water quality. It is not so much about the Fem as it is about the Fam."
This quote probably angers me the most. It is basically arguing that all of these things, because they are not about postponing childbirth, are not feminist issues. The article is completely misleading! Lactation rights, birthing techniques, VBAC's, etc. are all FEMINIST ISSUES! The right to HAVE children is just as much a reproductive right as the right NOT TO. Feminists fought for years against involuntary sterilizations (there was a huge epidemic of unconsented sterilizations of poor and colored women that went on for years) and eugenics, and continue to fight for rights to all the previously listed causes as well as rights to paid maternity leave, health care that covers reproductive rights, etc.

No man has to worry about whether or not he will be able to breastfeed in public, have the natural or unnatural birth that he wants, or be forced into yet another cesarean. Some amazing feminist men fight for these rights, but it is mostly is female feminists who fight for these causes, and the fights are most commonly against men. Just because someone's personal priorities change from career to family does not mean that they stop being feminists.
“Women are defining themselves more by their families than they are by themselves,” said Pamela Paul, a 39-year-old mother of three in Harlem and author of Parenting Inc. “It’s no longer about something as selfish and self-advancing as abortion or the pill.”
I strongly resent the idea that since people do not openly talk about abortion rights, we are somehow past the need to fight for them. I don't know about other mothers out there, but my pregnancy experience has made me MORE supportive of reproductive rights! I would not wish the past 9 months on anyone who didn't choose it for themselves. It's also my opinion that if someone doesn't support abortions, it's easy enough not to get one. Instead of forcing our beliefs on other people, we should be content with making our own decisions based on our own beliefs.

I also resent the idea that fighting for access to abortions or the pill is somehow selfish. I think that waiting until you are physically, emotionally, and financially prepared to have children is beyond unselfish. I think that making sure that your child can grow up with everything they need is incredibly important. They ignore the fact that most abortions are received by women who already have children. They ignore the fact that many of these women who are choosing to have families now once used the pill and made a conscious decision to have children, which in my mind makes them all the more special.

As a supposed 'reference' to this change from feminism to faminism, they have a slideshow of '9 Women Who Prefer Prams to Politics'. Instead of including any meaningful images that might have strengthened their weak arguments, they included pictures of 9 random celebrity mothers toting around their children. The worst part was that they even included pictures of celebrity mothers who CONTINUE to work on global politics beyond reproductive justice and family rights. They imply that, by having a family, these women have given up fighting for any other causes. It's incredibly demeaning to limit a woman's identity to only that of a mother. I'm sorry, I'll be a mother, I'll be a mother first and foremost, but I'll still be a feminist, hippie, vegetarian, liberal woman.

The article talks a lot about the younger age that women are deciding to begin their families. They completely ignore larger socioeconomic reasons that more women are having children now. The fact is that it is harder and harder for both partners in a relationship to be employed, and that it makes sense to take time where you would not otherwise be able to work and to have children. I know this played into our decision to have a child. Since I was unable to find employment since graduating anyways, and since my husband was able to support us (though just barely), we made the decision to take this time to start a family. 

This last quote is the most ridiculous, rude, presumptuous part of the article:
"In Ms. Jong’s time, women were protesting compulsory motherhood; now, it seems, they are not protesting anything at all—they are too busy mopping up crumbs."
 I said it earlier, and I'll say it again, just because a woman is a mother does not mean that she stops being anything else.

To make such false divides in a movement is nothing short of an attempt at sabotage.  It's pitting two groups against each other in an attempt to create a weaker movement overall.

I'm making a vow now, especially in light of this recent article, to attend as many rallies, protests, demonstrations, etc. with my daughter in tow. Not just to show people that women with children do still care, but to show my daughter that it is possible to make real change and that political involvement extremely important.

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