On Feminism and Motherhood: Our Rights Begin at Birth.




**Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that women only belong at home with their children, always and forever. Personally, I would never want to *solely* be a mother my whole life, and also, I made the choice to become one, which entails certain obligations and “sacrifices” (which only feel that way because #patriarchy) in the first developmental years of a child’s life. Read on…

 

Today on Instagram I saw the following post, which is what ultimately inspired this article, although this issue is something I think and talk about a lot. 

Apparently, this is a reflection of women’s empowerment and liberation, and a cause for celebration. Don’t get me wrong, in some ways it is (whoop for non-traditional families!) and, I still think we are a little confused.

I obviously do not know the prime minister of New Zealand’s life and how they plan to set up what this situation looks like on a day to day basis. Because of that, this post isn’t about them, but it has inspired me to say something.

Women returning to work soon after (as in, within the first 1-2 years) having a child is not liberation for women, children, or empowering the feminine essence. It is simply more evidence of how we hate women. It is more evidence of a society that values work/production/capitalism over nurturing future generations. Not to mention, one single person running an entire country is a very toxic-masculine, patriarchal ideal. The true feminine essence knows things run best when there is a collective effort and we don’t assign one person to assert power and dominance over all others. The feminine has village consciousness.




Here’s the thing:

Just as women have rights, so do children who are in crucial and vulnerable stages of their development (well, all children have rights, but I digress).

Babies have built-in biological and physiological needs that are expecting to get met when they enter the world, and they have a right to have those needs met for the highest attainable standard of health and well-being.

We will march in the streets all day for women and people of color and the LGBTQ community and most other minority groups of people that have their rights limited because of the patriarchy (which is AMAZING. March on…).

But you won’t see children marches or many people fighting for their rights, because giving them their rights often times is inconvenient to the deeply ingrained patriarchal values that we hold. It would mean our society would have to truly go back to be a matriarchy, and many of us are simply and unknowingly marching to join the patriarchy. Ironically, the lack thererof [children’s rights] is probably what brought us to have a society dominated by patriarchal ideals and detached parenting practices in the first place.

Babies have a right to form an attachment bond.

All mammals seek attachment upon being born. It is part of their make-up and what ensures healthy physical, psychological, and emotional development. Our lack of attachment with our parents due to detached/western parenting practices is why so many adults need therapy and cannot have healthy relationships (to name a few human dysfunctions).

Babies have a right to be breastfed.

I am not going to argue breastmilk vs formula in this post. There is plenty of science backing the obviously more healthy choice between the the two. I am also not going to argue that “not all women can breastfeed.” That is correct, and women returning to work is a huge reason why. Other reasons can be addressed by putting more emphasis on breastfeeding education and support for all new mothers. As in, breastfeeding should be seen as a top priority for all new babies by health professionals, family members, and the new mother. Not just something she will simply try and see if it works.

The fact is that women (physiologically speaking) have breasts to feed babies (even if a woman never uses them for that), and babies enter the world with an instinctual ability to find the breast and suckle.

A baby has the right to optimal health and a high functioning immune system, along with skin-to-skin contact which promotes brain development and keeps cortisol (stress hormone) low. A mother’s body and milk is uniquely designed to meet the needs for her baby. No one else can replicate this symbiotic relationship. This isn’t closed-mindedness or discrimination, it’s years and years of evolutionary biology.



Many people will argue that modern feminsim is all about choice. That it isn’t about what women *should* do, but more about having the choice in everything she does.

Look, I am your fangirl for choice, but the choice isn’t to go out and work or stay with your baby. The choice was to have a baby, and like any other job a woman might choose to go out and do, (or stay home and do) it comes with responsibilities. As far as I am concerned, that responsibility in the choice to become a mother is to meet the very legitimate, biological needs of the baby, or else you are violating the rights of the child. Their right to optimal human development. The idea the we can pawn the job of motherhood off to someone else, but all other jobs require our exquisite time and attention is a result of the patriarchy. Make no mistake. I am not placing the blame on mothers here. I am blaming years of **capitalism, the suppression of ancient wisdom, and colonial destruction.

Women’s liberation is not leaving babies at home and returning to work after 6 weeks, or 6 months. This just goes to show how far we are from our true nature as humans and how disconnected we are from the importance of nurturing our offspring from a biological perspective. It goes to show our lack of understanding of the post-partum period and how long it actually takes for a woman’s body to heal and replenish vitamins and minerals post pregnancy and birth.

It goes to show how deep the patriarchy runs in our psyches when we celebrate a new mom going right back to work while dad stays home. Women being separated from their babies to go work is just more patriarchy. It is in no way dismantling it.



True feminism and liberation for women would be living in a society who recognizes and values the nurturing and bonding of its children just as much (or more) as it values going out to work and climbing the career ladder.

It would be a society that is fundamentally set up in every way to radically support women so that they didn’t have to work right after having a baby. It would be a society where we never said having children was a “sacrifice” because we would be so supported and taken care of that it never felt like we were having to sacrifice anything. It would feel like having children added to life, not took away from it because everywhere we went would be mother/kid-friendly (so not the case now). Ultimately, it would be a culture that understood that the health and well-being of mother and child affects the health and well-being of everyone.

Feminism isn’t only getting to do what men can do. It is remembering why women are pure magic and valuing what they were orignally meant to offer humanity and creating a society that supports that. Stop banging on the door of the patriarchy and start opening the door that holds the matriarchal territory that we are all longing for. Which is the invitation to view child-rearing and mothering for what it is. A saintly opportunity. An eminent type of creation, and a chance to wake-up to your holy feminine through the reflection that is being offered to us through the lives of our children.

 

**When I talk about capitalism I am not so much talking about the trading of goods and services for monetary value amongst people. I am referring to corrupt capitalism, corporate capitalism, and capitalistic greed….


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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for this very empowering article. I’ve always wondered how the liberation of women was supposed to happen by their working more 🙂

  2. Yes yes yes.

    No one goes and gets a job and then gets someone else to do that job for them.

    No one in business outsources the most important part of the business that only they can do (& what they went into business for in the first place).

    So why on earth does our society think it’s ok to outsource the most important role a mother can have – bringing up her own children?

  3. OHMYGODTHANKYOUSOMUCHFORTHIS

    Seriously, I lack words to speak about such matters but you gave me a bunch.
    Love what you do here,
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sister I fecking loved your words, all of them. ✊ Yhanks for Thames the time to share with others. 💚

  5. I have mixed views about this article.

    I agree with much of what is said about how when a woman decides to become a mother she shouldn’t feel like she is sacrificing anything, she should feel supported and like she can stay off work and be with her baby as long as is right for them. I even wrote an article recently that criticized a study that there was no damage to babies if the mums return to work because I feel that pushing this in women’s faces pressurizes them to return to work instead of letting them find their way instinctively.

    I feel like many women are pressured to return to work and I like that this article addresses that.

    But this article doesn’t say a woman should stay at home for as long as is right for that individual mother and that individual baby.
    It says that “the choice to become a mother is to meet the very legitimate, biological needs of the baby, or else you are violating the rights of the child” and to “pawn the job of motherhood off to someone else” within the first 1 – 2 years is doing exactly that.

    But for some mums and toddlers, to return to work when the little one is around a year old, for example, might work just great for the both of them. They might have a great support network but still feel that it’s the right thing.

    And for women to have that choice to return to work when they feel ready IS a feminist win. Yes it usually still comes with a load of judgement from the way society has been conditioned by the patriarchy, but it has come a bloody long way from a time when women had virtually no choice but to stay at home.

    Feminism isn’t about telling women what to do, like this article does.
    It’s about giving women the choice, free of judgement, to make the decision that is right for them and supporting them in that.

    Telling women that returning to work before your kid is two will damage them, isn’t feminism.

    And don’t even get me started on the repercussions for any gay dads who might be reading this.

    Finally, to say “Babies enter the world with an instinctual ability to find the breast and suckle” is factually incorrect. It also suggests that mothers who’s babies can’t or don’t breastfeed are responsible for it, rather than accepting that the baby just might not have that instinct or ability. I was desperate to breastfeed and had all the support I could wish for, including my own mum who was a midwife and breastfeeding support worker. My baby had no instinctual ability to find the breast and suckle and I know many, many other mums who found the same thing, even though it broke their hearts. I still gave my baby breastmilk through pumping, but they has zero instinct or desire for it.

    1. Well that’s why I said 1-2 years. For some it might work closer to year, and others it might look longer. You read 1-2, I know you did because you quoted me at the beginning of your comment…but then went on to criticize and say I’m judging anyone who returns to work before their child is two.

      To address the ability to breastfeed: Nearly all babies who won’t latch and nurse are coming off drugs that were put into the mother’s system during birth (which is shown to also enter the baby’s system). There are very compelling studies that show babies born to mothers who were induced or had epidurals are more likely to have poor (or non existing) latches and breastfeeding troubles. Also babies who experienced any birth trauma such as c section or circumcised babies. All these things can interfere with breastfeeding but let’s not blame the baby and say they were simply born just not knowing how. Nature is intelligent and they have a built in mechanism. If it’s not there then there is a reason for that.