Journal Entry 3.19.11

Motherhood & Feminism; the Truth

This Wednesday at 12pm and 7pm EST I will be streaming a speaking engagement by Dr. Amber Kinser. Her bio describes her as “…a powerful feminist writer, speaker, mother, and professor.  Kinser draws on feminist thought and activism, her doctoral training in family communication, and 18+ years experience as a mother to explore how women who choose to mother can do so as powerful people.  She agrees with celebrated author Ann Crittenden that attention to mothering is the great unfinished business of feminism.  She intends to get all up in that business.”

Powerful indeed. She is also the author of ‘Motherhood and Feminism‘ and the Chair of the Communications Department at East Tennessee State University, she is also the former Head of the Women’s Studies Department at ETSU.

I have heard Dr. Kinser speak and she is a very passionate person about her subject, a strong working mother with strong opinions about raising children, feminist rantings and women who chose to become mothers in the social sphere of the idea of motherhood in today’s testy environment. I think she’s pretty darn awesome and certainly extremely knowledgable on the topic.

Being a single girl (in a virtual world, nonetheless…) myself, I find it an interesting topic of debate. Many women whom I’ve spoken to, my mother included, who chose to raise children and work in a career, or those women who have raised children and decided to not pursue a career seem to still be finding their place in a society in which seems to debate what is really the face of feminism in motherhood. Which one is right vs wrong. Why do we have to choose at all?

My mother raised two daughters and put herself through two college degrees, while her husband worked to support us all. Sacrifices made, mostly her young single-dom, but a ‘job’ of raising children nonetheless, she was proud to have chosen – even today, there are no regrets. But raising two independent daughters, who have chosen not to marry or have children, through our own single Odyssey, is something that has us each seeing ‘feminism’ in a different light.

Would my parents like to see me married? Of course? But they have long since given up that argument. 🙂 Why have I chosen the single life? Quite simply,I’ve climbed the career ladder for 20 years, traveling the world, learning about myself and my place in it and haven’t slowed down long enough to stop and pursue that road. Honestly, I’ve never sat still long enough to carry on a serious relationship; even though engaged briefly once in my very young life. Maybe, that deterred me. These are questions I still ask myself from time to time when the issue comes up.

Why again, did I choose this path, when my raising and environment was from a loving, two-parent home? Maybe, I decided long ago that I didn’t want the responsibility of raising children, while I was still discovering myself? Maybe, I watched my mother juggle so many responsibilities, I thought it looked ‘too hard’. Maybe, it was the times (80s) when I lived as a teenager, where everything was the ‘Me generation’; the Gen-Xer’s, who were going to take the world by storm and not toe the line to any corporate jobby or fall in line the same matriarchal role as our baby boomer mothers had. A generational shift happened – I wanted it all! And still do, but 20 years later after my idealistic 20s, I know better.

At one time in my 20s, I did think I could have it all. Marriage, kids, career, travel, adventure, creativity, art, music…but I was kidding myself because there is always something sacrificed; and in my case – I felt it would be my individual freedoms. I guess that’s why I think this debate between Motherhood and Feminism is such an interesting topic.

So many women who proclaim they are feminists, divide and conquer claiming they are better feminists than others because of (fill in the blank). Whether they are mothers who have chosen to stay at home and raise children, or leave their children in daycare while they pursue a career, or even women who choose not to have children or get married and ‘selfishly’ go along their merry way — who is the ‘better’ feminist? Why can’t we just all get along and see that there are both benefits and sacrifices just simply from being a WOMAN in general?

We have so much to learn from each other. We’re already fighting ‘the man’ – imagine if we could step outside the dogma and see the beauty and freedom that we have fought for actually is working…though we still have work. As Dr. Kinser says ‘…there is a great unfinished business in feminism’ (taking it out of context to fit my statement here).

Will I ever get married? I don’t know. Will I ever have children? At 40 now, it’s doubtful, though adoption is never out of the question. But that is a personal choice, not based on science, society, culture, or peer pressure – but rather, I feel as a feminist, that I shouldn’t have to make these decisions or conform to any particular ‘ideal’ of what a feminist looks like in the 21st century because of some outdated rhetoric or indoctrinated fem-speak that dictates how I should and shouldn’t live my life or make my own choices according to the equality and freedom I deserve as a human being – and yes, that includes YOU governments who impose their morality and judgements on women who chose what to do with their own bodies. (Whew! That’s a long sentence)…breathe…

Don’t get me started on that topic. We’ll save that one for the next time…

I hope you’ll join Dr. Kinser’s speaking engagement online. You can watch it live via streaming on Wednesday, March 23rd at 12pm and 7pm EST on my UStream Channel. Please watch and chat your questions to Dr. Kinser or reply to the post here your thoughts on the issue of Motherhood and Feminism; and what is YOUR truth.

I look forward to continuing ‘getting all up in that business’.

About Jodi Nelson

I am a filmmaker launching a new film project entitled 'Single Girl in a Feminist World: What Does A 21st Century Feminist Look Like?' By engaging a global audience of online participants, I will be asking virtual strangers to join in my quest to answer the question, “What does a 21st Century Feminist Look Like?” Utilizing social networks, crowd funding initiatives, web blogs, viral video, second life, flash mobs, virtual chat interaction and traditional modes of documentary practice, I will create a documentary film that exemplifies feminism in its profoundly new image.
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