Saturday, May 19, 2007

Some Thoughts on Feminism 

Last Sunday (May 13) was Mother's Day. Mine was quite pleasant, although I spent a chunk of the day on an airplane returning to Minnesota from a daughter's graduation in Los Angeles.

We in the Twin Cities are used to the leftist bias in our featured paper, the Star Tribune (Strib), but the LA Times is almost as bad, . For Mother's Day, the LA Times had two opinion pieces: "A Mother's Day kiss-off" by Leslie Bennetts; and "Moms are people too" by Deborah Tannen, renamed to "Understanding Mom" in the electronic edition. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, in these opinion pages about the joys of being a Mom: families, kids, foster families, etc., that is, the real reason for Mother's Day.

Bennetts dismisses the one-day honoring of Mom: "...the world, having made its annual perfunctory nod to the contributions of American mothers, will move on, leaving us once again to cope with our inordinate responsibilities, largely on our own." She asserts that this creates "a permanent state of simmering anger in all too many women." Bennetts recites the predictable leftist-feminist screed, blaming men, our culture, corporations and politicians for creating "institutions, policies and practices that oppress us all." For her, motherhood involves stark choices: "many [work] out of financial necessity," while others stay home and deal with "conflicted feelings" about giving up a career.

Tannen earned her PhD. and became a professor of linguistics at Georgetown. Her article discusses her choice to return to graduate school after her divorce, and how this conflicted with her Russian-born mother's values and choices. But at least Tannen acknowledges the necessity to "try to see our mothers and love them for who they are: creations of their lives and their worlds, which doubtless are different from our own."

I am a mom, a former single mom, divorced, remarried with stepchildren, graduate-degreed, with multiple careers in academia and the corporate world. It pains me no end when I hear and read of women who make a point of looking for the negative aspects of raising children with a loving spouse. This type of feminist seems to think they are constantly receiving the short end of the stick in life. It is the whine, moan and complain view of the world.

Both writers made choices and Tannen at least acknowledges hers and recognizes there are legitimate differences among women. But Bennetts complains that she has been "pilloried in print and cyberspace" by stay-at-home moms who have challenged her views. Bennetts does not see that her writings are dismissive attacks on women who value children and families more highly than careers.

When young women are not taught that a loving relationship with a spouse and children usually generates much happiness, we are lying to them. Couple this with the constant barrage of sexual images they see, it's no wonder they struggle. Where can they internalize an "I'm ok" and "this is worth doing" attitude about motherhood presented from a positive angle? Hard to find.

Contrasting with these two pampered authors is the current Weekly Standard's headline article, "The Subjection of Islamic Women", which highlights the fact that the so-called feminists of the west largely ignore or rationalize the truly gross inequities in their plight in the Islamic world.

I thoroughly believe in women's education. But having "done it all" (or close to it), I'll take a strong marital relationship and my children any day of the week, compared to an office and a career spent bemoaning the plight of American women.

Women (and men) need to understand that there are many women like me who have found enormous satisfaction in the joys of marriage and family. Juggling kids, spouse, career, etc. was and can be overwhelming at times but I wouldn't give up the "mom" aspect for anything.