Conflicted motherhood

Posted by Guest Blogger on Saturday, 20 November 2004 17:35.

Joanna Murray-Smith confesses

in a recent Age article,

“I am leading the life the feminists of the ‘70s dreamed of: successful professional and mother - but it’s no dream.”

Why not? Because of the mental anguish she feels at not having time to spend with her children. She asks,

“Where is the play time with our kids? Where are the long hours of unhurried togetherness?”

She admits that “I go to bed at night asking myself over and over again how much our working lives really benefit our children?” and that “increasingly I resent the dishonesty of pretending that our children are not guinea pigs in an experiment that is, in many ways, a failure.”

What is her response to this situation? On the negative side, she claims that “the true feminist quest [is] to continually re-examine women’s choices”, as if feminism itself could redress the balance and support the choice of women to stay at home and look after their children. As I’ve pointed out previously

, the logic of feminist theory runs counter to women choosing to stay at home to care for their own children. It’s a forlorn hope that feminism might reform itself and allow women to freely choose this option.

More positively, though, Joanna Murray-Smith does question the liberal idea that we should aim for unimpeded individual choice. She realises that women can’t do, in reality, what they are told they can do, and simply choose to have everything at the same time. There will always exist impediments to individual choice. She relates how,

“my generation of middle-class women, desperate to realise our mothers’ dreams, sailed into the professions with the bluster of undimmable expectations”

but having also become mothers,

“we have woken up in our 30s and 40s and found that you can not be a master of parallel lives, only, with a little luck, of one.”

She has become aware, too, that unimpeded individual choice has little to say about what we owe others or what our adult responsibilities are. She writes that women need to be,

“vigilant not only to our desires but also to our mistakes, to find the elusive balance between our needs and our responsibilities to our children ... We have been taught to applaud our own rights, but now we need to question how the volume of that applause has rendered mute the rights of our children.”

Her conclusion casts doubt on the whole political culture of unimpeded individual choice. She writes,

“Perhaps we have reached the point where the feminist cliche of having choices is finally undressed. The gift of choices is booby trapped. The concept of choices is laden with the grief of loss. Something is always lost.”



Comments:


1

Posted by Fred Scrooby on Sat, 20 Nov 2004 20:47 | #

In recent years we’ve begun to see more and more reports along these lines of course, telling sadly how the promises made by women’s lib back when they were spouting all that irresponsible Marxist propaganda during the late 60s, the 70s, and the 80s have not worked out “as advertised.”

When I lived in Europe a Vietnamese friend who’d been through a lot of difficulty in her country used often to repeat one of her favorite sayings:  “La vie est un choix.”  (Life is a choice.)

No one “can have it all.”  Every life will feel a certain sense of loss, of yearning, of heartbreak even, over dreams of youth unfulfilled, over “the grass is always greener,” over “the road not taken,” over a gnawing “What if?”  This is universal and has nothing whatsoever to do with the sex you are.  It’s just amazing how the women’s lib movement was able, starting a generation ago, to convince so many now-despairing, unhappy, unfulfilled women they “could have it all” (or even more extreme—they “didn’t need a man at all for their happiness,” or “didn’t need children” either, for that matter).  Just amazing.

For the women who were duped it’s now too late.  The hope is, naturally, that these bleak tales of youthful credulity, these confessions, which we’re starting more and more to read about, will serve as an invaluable lesson to the next generation.  They seem to be doing exactly that:  one reads here and there how fewer and fewer young women are ready to call themselves “feminists” nowadays, and how “feminist” organisations routinely need to inflate their membership numbers for the press.

There’s a more important lesson here, and it’s not women who have to learn it, but men:  the same unalterable realities of human nature that are debunking “feminism” before our eyes also debunk that utter nonsense which was idiotically called “The Playboy Philosophy” when I was in college.  Enough said, men?  Yes, exposure of “feminism” as the utter fraud it always was does something else as well:  it puts the ball be back in men’s court. 

Something drove all those women to take leave of their senses.  They said part of the problem was the unacceptable way husbands treated wives.  If there’s something that needs mending in the way boyfriends and husbands treat girlfriends and wives, let’s find out exactly what it is and get working on fixing it, men.  This business of considering men’s and women’s problems to be separate from one another is Marxist.


2

Posted by Fred Scrooby on Sun, 21 Nov 2004 10:50 | #

Today Mark Richardson has a riveting book review up over at OzConservative.com, “Fatherless America,” which in many ways is a companion essay to the present log entry.  I consider it must reading for anyone interested in what makes left-liberals tick in regard to their attitudes toward the fundamental question of the sex roles we were all born into.  Here’s a small portion:

“And here we have that crucial juncture which separates liberals and conservatives. A liberal will at this point stick to his vision of individual freedom, and deal with negative social consequences as they arise (or ignore them). A conservative, though, will too much value what is being lost, and will question a ‘freedom’ which destroys an important human good.  Which way does Blankenhorn go? He decides for conservatism. He declares of the liberal vision that, ‘... as a social ethic for fatherhood, I dispute it.  I dispute it because it demands the obliteration of precisely those cultural boundaries, limitations, and behavioral norms that valorize paternal altruism and therefore favor the well-being of the infant.  I dispute it because it denies the necessity, and even repudiates the existence, of fathers’ work: irreplaceable work in behalf of family that is essentially and primarily the work of fathers.  I dispute it because it tells an untrue story of what a good marriage is. In addition, I dispute it because it rests upon a narcissistic and ultimately self-defeating conception of male happiness and human completion.’ “


3

Posted by Guessedworker on Sun, 21 Nov 2004 14:14 | #

Thanks, Fred.  I’ll talk to Mark about getting it posted.

The excellent Civitas has a number of e-books of interest, one of which is Families Without Fathers, available in a 152-page PDF here: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/cs03.pdf

There is so much evidence on this subject it can only cause the most cynical wonder that the sixties freedom junkies who now run this country can’t apprehend their own wrong-headedness.  If they don’t think families without Dads are such a great idea why don’t they guage what must be done to reverse current trends?

Only two possible reasons for that.  One, there is no political advantage to them in a socially conservative society.  Two, they actually want all the chaos and pain that flows from our descent into immorality.

The latter could be because they perceive it to be a price worth paying for freedom from the old, stiffling sexual proscriptions (also they don’t pay that price, of course)... or, being liberals, they are good at destroying stuff but bloody useless at building anything ... or because they just want as much destruction in society as possible as in some student-days, marxian, pre-revolutionary sense.



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