**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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