This post has two purposes.
One is my desire to share with you the work of my awesome mother-friends. These women are amazing, they have supported me in different ways and inspired me in others. They are true to themselves and rise above the pressure to conform. They call bullshit as they see it and celebrate Awesome un-competitively. We can all be awesome, it is good to point out how awesome your friends are in an overly critical world. Add your awesome into the comments.
The other is to address an article by renowned feminist, and newish mother, Clementine Ford.
I am going to Start with Ford’s article, which raised three red flags for me.
1. Her blasé mention of sleep training.
3. Her avoidance of referring to Mothers
To address number one would take a book. In fact several very good books* have been written and many more utterly devastating ones. Parenting books usually focus on ‘sleep’, or lack thereof, in varying degrees of usefullness. Dr Amy Brown addresses parenting books here. Grubby Mummy has a blog dedicated to the topic of sleep and Evolutionary Parenting explores the evidence surrounding sleep training here. If you find yourself thinking sleep training sounds good: this is a red flag. This is a sign that you need help. YOU. Chances are your baby is normal and perfect and awesome. Rule out anything problematic with your baby by addressing a few key areas of your life.
For many women the pressure to keep their career in focus, our cultural devaluation of motherhood and medicalised approach to life sees them juggling with too many knives…or to quote a rather special, and fictional, non-parent, Mr Bilbo Baggins:
“feel like butter scraped over too much bread”
Resorting to sleep training feels like taking action, like you are in control, gives a sense of purpose and an illusion of support. The key point here is support. In a world that values superficial and self-focused activities (“self care” anyone?), motherhood leaves many women feeling isolated and invisible. Mothers groups are often very dull, competitive and schedule focused. Just as hospital provided birth classes are limited to being a good patient, the Mothers Groups limit you to the 'approved' approach to parenting. The assumption is you will return to work. Soon. This means your baby MUST fit with your job. The blazé mention of 'sleep training' further normalises this. Ford writes almost as if she is daring someone to judge her. I don't judge her. She makes her own decisions. I do judge society though. There is no one way.
This leads in to the second red flag. “Survive”
I was very sad to read Ford’s experience of entering Motherhood, her feelings of ‘making it through’ and her descriptions and advice to others. This is a red flag for two reasons.
The third red flag, avoiding reference to Mothers, showed me that Ford’s Feminism is overlooking an important aspect of Herstory.
Beyond the title of the article, Ford does not mention Mothers or women at all. She refers to “Birth Parent” and “parenthood”. This would be very purposeful, as Ford is an inclusive feminist. She knows that not all mothers identify as women, and the acceptable language is to avoid using ‘mother’ and ‘woman’ even when referring to biologically female aspects of humanity. The disappearance of women generally is problematic, but the disappearance of “mothers” is alarming. When we are referring to biological aspects, we dehumanise this experience using ‘birth parent’ and referring to ‘parenthood’. Liberating Motherhood: Birthing the Purplestockings Movement (2016), by Vanessa Olorenshaw is a great way to explore Maternal Feminism.
These three red flags show me there are gaps in Ford’s knowledge. She is very learned when it comes to her usual topics, such as domestic violence, and in her book Fight like a Girl, she very humbly admits she was ignorant in some aspects. She also very wisely sought to become educated and looked to mentors in the field to guide her. I hope Ford can do the same when it comes to Motherhood and Maternal Feminism. She holds a unique place among feminists and has a strong voice and a huge audience. She is an ‘influencer’. This is not something to be taken lightly. I invite her to explore this more, and would very happily mentor her. This is not advice. Just awesome possibility.
With that, I return to the First Purpose: Sharing the Awesomeness of my mother-friends. Some of these women have taken their Motherhood and recreated themselves within it. Embracing the Mothering and maternal aspects of themselves, they build an awesome life around it. Along with the above mentioned links, they provide a great foundation for building knowledge. They show that mums can celebrate Mothering AND be successful in creating a world that adheres to feminist values.
The first woman I am highlighting is Alecia Staines. She is the Director of Maternity Consumer Network. She has a podcast: Birth - the forgotten feminist issue
When I first met Aly Krantz, I could see a fire in her belly. She has a burning passion, that ignited when she was a newborn mother. She also could see the damage that ‘horror birth stories’ were doing to women. So she embarked on a mission and created The Circle of Birth Podcast, she is a birth doula, a death doula and student midwife. She sees the positive in the world, and knows how powerful it is to share the positive. She is no longer adding stores, but the podcast is preserved as a brilliant resource.
Another podcasting friend is Arianwen Harris, her podcast is In Mothering.
All the women mentioned in this blog are Awesome. They have strong voices and all are Feminists. There are many others who deserve to be heard: please add them into the comments.
Hear them Roar.
They hear you.
They applaud you.
They support you.
*see the Sleep section of links and resources in the Member Area (free to sign up)
Selected Articles by Catherine around the web:
bellabirth.wordpress.com | evolutionary parenting | pregnancy.com.au |
| birth without fear | newborn mothers | PBBMedia |