Sunday, May 19

Controversy: A Woman's Role

I am responding today to a powerful article entitled: "How my mother's fanatical feminist views tore us apart." As I read, I found myself sympathizing with the author and wanting to reach out to her and tell her I'm proud of her for the choices she has made in her personal life. Her mother is very apparently a poor example of what a woman should be: tender, caring, full of love, willing to serve others, kind toward children--she  has not truly developed any of these qualities though she may make impressions otherwise. 

The fact that Walker neglected her own daughter shows she lacks good character and, to be frank, good sense. How can she support the view that children enslave women? Does she not care about raising the next generation to be one that honors women? How does she lack the foresight to recognize that children are going to be born no matter what and that without strong, willing mothers, they will be raised just as poorly as today's generation? 

As someone who is strongly anti-abortion, I feel very sorry that Rebecca had that heartbreaking experience at the age of 14. It makes me sad that she was put in that position as a youth and that her mother displayed no interest in her daughter's situation at the time. Her mother's lack of approval was a selfish act, meant only to hurt her daughter who obviously tried very hard to please her mother regardless of their differing views. This quote regarding her mother's attitude toward her lifestyle sickens me: "But she wouldn't back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother." How utterly despicable and hateful Walker has been toward her daughter. It is a miracle that Rebecca has been able to look past her mother's faulted ideas and cultivate an entirely new set of beliefs on her own. 

Rebecca's views on feminism align well with my own. I consider myself the complete opposite of a feminist--at least the opposite of the extremists. I am aware that it has had its merits. Feminism has given women opportunities. It has opened doors to higher education, better workplace conditions, and involvement in politics. But in my mind it has gone much too far and is essentially destroying the most important and crucial unit in society: the family. 

I liked this quote of Rebecca's:
"Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating."

It is very devastating. How sad for those women who selfishly deny themselves the power to create and support life. It is the one power we possess that men do not and our divine responsibility as women. Yet so many turn away from that role and later find that they have missed out on a great happiness. This particularly saddens me when I think of how many women abort the life they have created, while so many women suffer from loneliness--many are single and unable to have the family they dream of, many are barren but yearn to be a mother more than anything else, and many have had tragedies befall them or their children leaving them in what must feel like a perpetual state of helplessness. 

Rebecca sums up her mother's greatest fault with this quote. "But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities--after work, political integrity, self-fulfillment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel." Selfishness is evident in Alice Walker's every deed. She may have incorrectly believed that she was living a life of freedom and independence, but in actuality she behaved for her own good and no one else's. 

The greatest point Rebecca makes in her article is how her experience as a mother has been more freeing than she thought possible: "The other day I was vacuuming when my son came bounding into the room. 'Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, let me help,' he cried. His little hands were grabbing me around the knees and his huge brown eyes were looking up at me. I was overwhelmed by a huge surge of happiness. I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.' It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother  -  thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman. You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale. In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late  -  I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck." 

I am grateful for Rebecca Walker's courageous example. She has taught me that there is more to be gained as a woman through motherhood than anything else. She emphasizes that the truest source of happiness has been her family. She recognizes her mother's many errors of thinking and has developed her own set of principles to live by. She is someone that I personally look up to for her faith and commitment to her family. 

Now I want to hear your thoughts and feelings. 
What did you think of her article? 
Do you agree with her like I do or disagree and why? 
What joy, in your mind, could possibly be greater or more important than having a loving family? 

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