Last night’s post was the blog equivalent of thinking aloud.
A quick summary then.
If we want a pro-life society we have to value motherhood as a vocation in and of itself.
Valuing motherhood should be an integral part of an authentic feminism, which promotes the fact that all other factors being equal, mothers are by far the best placed to be the primary carers for their children, even if they do need guidance at times.
We need employment legislation that compels employers to be creative with hours offered to mothers, a benefit system that does not penalise mothers who choose to stay home with their young children, as well as accessible child-care.
At the moment most women do not effectively have any economic choice as to whether or not to work if they have children. The expectation is that women will work, bring in an income and continue to do so whilst juggling the demands of a young family, which is a fair amount of pressure. Whilst fathers are getting better at being hands-on and relieving the pressure, the burden of birth and breast-feeding does not fall on their shoulders.
At present, a mother has to accept that unless she works, she and her children have to accept a substantially lower standard of living, not just doing without luxuries but in reality, struggling to afford the basics, regardless of whether or not she has a partner or husband. If a couple have children, the compromise is often a choice between living in a house/flat to accommodate children or whether the mother/father can stay home. Often there is no choice. The rising house prices have shafted everyone under 50 who doesn’t have a substantial inheritance or private income.
The answer is not to make men do more and make two people juggle the demands of work and children, but to re-gear society in order to give women some real choices, understanding that motherhood is not of secondary import, something to be relegated behind one’s duty to earn one’s keep and pay taxes.
The early feminists were right; women should not be forced to stay at home against their will, they are entitled to equal standards of education and equal opportunities in the workplace. But those pioneers who were passionate about women’s choices and freedoms and would be horrified to learn that the unintended consequences of their movement resulted in women being compelled to choose between their economic freedom and their ability to have children.
An authentic feminism should not compel a woman to work. An authentic feminism does not force a woman to abort her babies or limit the size of her family. An authentic feminism does not treat children as a barrier to equality, but rather encompasses and accepts them. An authentic feminism is pro-life; it values motherhood and does not treat babies as an encumbrance.
If we can get women to stop thinking of fertility as a problem and society to value and respect motherhood, if we can give women a real choice in terms of how they raise their children, then abortion will be a thing of the past and feminism can claim a real victory.