Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where Have All the Feminists Gone? (From Erica and Emily)

According to some highly credible hyperbole (aka someone somewhere once said this to Erica), out of every million people who visit a blog, only a thousand return, and only one person writes a comment. This general principle has proven true with Not Another Wave, where our readers vastly outnumber those who actively participate in the discussion. Our recent hiatuses from the bloggernet notwithstanding, we Mods are anxious to get more people involved in important discussions about gender, equality, etc. etc. In the past we've tried pleading, persuading, and guilt-tripping friends into contributing, but in light of how limited our success has been, we've decided to take a different approach.

First of all, we're trying to understand why so few of our readers comment or contribute, especially since we allow anonymous commenting. One friend who is currently working on his PHD IN LITERATURE! (Ben, I'm talking about you) claimed he wasn't a "strong enough writer" to contribute (ridiculous, I know), and non-PhD-candidates have expressed similar concerns too. If people are feeling intimidated by our current contributors and guest writers, we can certainly understand. Few people have Lux's sense of humor, Carl's confidence, Erica's expertise, or Emily's arrogance. But here's something to keep in mind: the real reason all of us have contributed is because we care about the issues we're writing about. These things matter to us, and we write about them in order to get our ideas out there.

But as fun as it is to read debates between Emily and Erica, childhood friends who grew up less than a mile apart in a tiny New England town simply don't provide the kind of diverse insights we're looking for. So, here's the deal: if you don't have the time, expertise, drive, etc. to contribute a full entry, or the nerve to comment on a post by one of the contributors (Erica can be scary, as Emily is very willing to testify... behind closed doors), or if you hesitate to contribute for any reason whatsoever, here's a new opportunity:

For the rest of January, we will be featuring a Question of the Day series. We'll ask an open-ended question each day and will welcome any and all thoughts, opinions, rants, etc. that you feel like sharing. Your responses can come in any size. If you want to write one word, kudos. If you want to write a novel, more power to ya. If you think we're asking a dumb question and that we should discuss something more important, go ahead and tell us that too. Just get your voice and opinion out there, in whatever way you possibly can.

And on that note, here is the question of the Day for January Tenth:

As this day happens to be the birthday of one contributor's mother (we won't say whose, in the interest of maintaining internet safety), we're welcoming thoughts on motherhood.

Some Questions you might comment on:
How do you feel about your mother?
How have she and her female ancestors impacted you?
If you're a woman, how do you feel about the prospect of becoming (or not becoming) a mother some day?


  1. Since I am one of those frequent readers lacking in writing skills, I will comment on the question of the day--and briefly.
    I think it's weird that so many women in the LDS church have children while still so young. I know many women younger than I (I'm 25) who already have children. Not just one child, multiple children (no, these were not teenage mothers). I wonder if it's by deliberate choice or how often it's due to birth control failure. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that I will love my future children, but I can't see myself having them for quite some time.
    Also, I rather resent the emphasis in the LDS church on how being a mother is the most important thing a woman can/will do in this life. Firstly, it is annoying because I am already acutely aware that women cannot hold most leadership positions in the church. Second, it is especially troublesome, in my opinion, in light of the demographics of church members (there are many more "active" women than men). In a church that emphasizes the importance of marrying within the faith, I wonder how constantly hearing about motherhood affects those women who are either young and realize their prospects for marriage are slim, or are older and realize that they have already passed the time in their life when bearing children was possible.

  2. Hi there, anonymous commenter. I find it interesting how you label that which you don't believe in as "weird" (i.e., having children at a young(ish) age). What if the women who have children at a young age feel very fulfilled? What if that is what they wanted? What if sincerely want to raise children, etc., and so they pursue that option once they are married?

    What I appreciate that the church offers is a place for home-life to take center stage. (Transversely, what I don't appreciate is how men might not be as deeply implicated in nurturing children as women are.) I sincerely believe that raising children (I only know second-hand) is the most amazing, beautiful, strenuous, arduous, sweet, special, important thing one can do. As such, I appreciate that there is a venue in which that belief can be refined and finessed. So, basically, I think the Church teaches that the home (the concept of selfless service, unconditional love, etc.) is the most important thing that any individual can establish. And yes, I think anyone can establish a home, marriage or no marriage, single or in partnership. Perhaps we need to rethink the "family" outside of an exclusive nuclear structure that defines itself by its borders. What if a family is that which you love and care for. (I am single and I try to feed, clothe, and visit those around me.)

    Anyway, I gotta run. I'll post more later.

    Another thing to consider: family life is spoken of in

  3. I agree with Ben on the need for us to redefine what it means to be "family." The longer I work in the social services, the more I see that the people who grow up the happiest, healthiest, and best-balanced aren't necessarily those who grew up with their biological heterosexual parents, but those who grew up with caregivers who made it their priority to nurture their children and help them flourish.

    That being said, I'm extremely proud of my mother and humbled by the choices she's made in her life. I come from a family of incredibly strong women- my maternal grandmother was orphaned by age 14 and singlehandedly supported herself, her sister, and her cousin for many years- and my mother raised my sister and me to have a deep pride and respect for that. She also made the choice to be a stay-at-home parent when we were young, which had a major impact on her career and social life for many years; doing so gave my sister and me the kind of parenting we might not have had if both our parents were working, but it was a sacrifice on her part.

    As my partner and I prepare to get married, and are starting to talk about how we want to structure our family life once we're ready to have children, it's interesting to see how stay-at-home parenting is a sacrifice regardless of who chooses to do it. My partner's father was the one to do it in his family, and that significantly impacted his career as well. It's hard to look at our broader US culture and imagine it as a place where the decision to parent doesn't have to be a sacrifice- i.e. if the job market were restructured to make (re)entry easier for parents coming into the workforce as their children grow older.

  4. Motherhood. Oh boy. Greatly ambivilent, I suppose.

    I'm an only child. When I was younger, I secretly dreamed of having a big family. I was so, so lonely that I always wanted to have that feeling of being surrounded by people who cared about me. So I thought I would grow up and have that.

    TheN I got older and realized I also really want to pursue a career (though the goals of it seem some what flexible at the moment) and somewhere along the line I just decided that everything else was not important.

    Now I'm entering my late 20s and I'm finding I'm conflicted again. My friends are starting to have babies, but I haven't even been in a serious relationship. And I still hold that I wouldn't want to have just one child if I do have there's that. And I'm not so good with babies. But I'm getting better.

    But it's so hard to shake that dichotomy; that I have to choose between going after getting a spouse and family or getting a career that I want. And a lot of days it feels like I've already made my choice.

  5. My utopian vision is that of a world in which both parents of one family can have part-time jobs and thus also have plenty of time for their kids. There would certainly not be expectations for individuals in certain professions (esp. lawyers) to work 70- or 80-hour work-weeks. In this utopia, people could work part-time and still get benefits generally reserved for full-time workers (paid vacation, maternity/paternity leave, health insurance, opportunities for advancement). *sigh* I know, utopia means 'a good place that is no place.'

  6. I think the utopian world sounds fantastic. For one thing, we already overwork ourselves. And then we feel entitled to do a ton of extra stuff (won't get into the list now) and forget to simply sit back and maybe have a relaxing evening with people you care about.