Not all people got the warm & fuzzies from my last blog post. An email I received said this:
“If you’re so intelligent, why don’t you get that having children is never beneficial to a woman & only enslaves them? Having children only ever benefits the man and makes the woman subservient to him”
This wasn’t a singular sentiment. I received 2 other similarly worded emails over the weekend, the intent seemingly meant to enlighten me, a poor,enslaved Breeder. I am still trying to imagine the message that accompanied the mass-emailed link-sending spree that brought multiple hits to that one entry. “Can you believe how stupid this woman is? Imagine a woman subjecting herself to such patriarchy in this day and age!”.
Coincidentally (maybe even ironically), I have been immersed recently in the life of Emma Goldman and her writings. I love Emma Goldman to bits and pieces.I’m sure I could find a more high brow and intellectual way to express my admiration for Goldman but sometimes the ordinary way of saying things gets the point across so much more efficiently.
At the time that she was spreading her message about anarchy, feminism,free love and social change, birth control was illegal. Like Margaret Sanger (who I have professed my love before here on this blog), Emma was passionate about women having control of their own reproductive health. Like Margaret Sanger, Emma worked closely as a midwife with women who threw themselves down flights of stairs to end an unwanted pregnancy and tended to worn-out,exhausted mothers who were defeated by multitudes of children and poverty. Like Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman was arrested for distributing birth control and information for women to gain control of their own body and access reproductive freedom.
Emma suffered from “womens troubles” and instead of having surgery that could correct her problems, she chose to do nothing and became infertile. She had a mission in life and saw children as being something that would hold her back and keep her from achieving this mission.
In contrast, another woman of that era, raised 7 children while publishing a newspaper that outraged many and fighting to change laws that equalized women and men, including the right to vote. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a mother of a large brood and never let it impede her goals and vision for the society she wanted her children and grandchildren to inherit. Her husband became her partner in this effort, taking equal responsibility for all tasks involved in raising a family, from changing diapers to doing dishes. If she wanted men & women to be equal, equality had to start at home. Mr. Stanton should be prized as a pioneering Male Feminist.
Each woman chose what they felt they could handle, determined to see a change in this world that went far beyond gender and reproductive status. Emma Goldman, the supreme goddess of feminism, said, “A woman MUST be free to decide the number of children she is to bring into the world!”.
5 was a good number for me. That’s what I chose. If I chose to have one child or none, I’m sure I’d have the respect of militant women who call themselves feminist but I really don’t care. To quote Emma Goldman, “True liberation begins in a woman’s soul”.
I am liberated. I wonder about women who scream so loudly and try so hard to get me to listen to and adhere to their vision of feminism. Did they grow up watching an oppressed mother give birth to child after child she didn’t love for the sake of religion? Were they made to feel they were less than a woman for not longing for maternal bliss? I don’t know what their issues are but I cannot see that they have found liberation within themselves. If you have internal liberation, you are more likely to be satisfied with your own state of being and have less concern for others. To condemn the choice of motherhood so adamantly almost seems like perhaps someone might not feel too terribly secure about themselves…or maybe their own ability to find the balance between being a mother and a person.
I don’t like to use labels to identify myself but feminism is one I have used from time to time. I don’t fit this picture in some minds, obviously but my view of feminism is perhaps different. It means that I just want to have the same opportunities as a women that men are provided. I don’t necessarily WANT to take advantage of all those opportunities – I just want to make sure they are there. If not for me, than for my daughters. I want to be treated the same as a man. I want social stereotypes and gender roles disbanded. Yeah, i’m choosing to live in a pretty stereotypical “woman’s role” but so what? That’s what I choose.Isn’t that what this “battle” is all about…making sure women have the right to choose.
Essentially, what I am saying to all those women out there who dare to judge and criticize a woman for being proud of her “Crotch Trophies” and the institution of Motherhood- kindly just please fuck off. Worry about what’s going on in your own womb. Mine is pretty content.