Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things that Boggle My Mind

A couple of things have been bugging me lately. First, I read the essay from Rebecca Walker, Alice Walker's daughter, where she discusses how crappy her mother was. I can understand perhaps being pissed off at your mother -- that's not an original concept. But I don't understand how she can blame feminism for all that is wrong with her life. She seems to believe that feminism has forced women to eschew motherhood, and she says that is a tragedy.

I've been a feminist all my life, and I am fairly well-schooled in first wave, second wave, and third wave feminism. I don't recall at any time having to decide that having children was a denial of feminism. I always knew I'd have children. I didn't know if I'd get married, but I definitely was going to have children.

Feminism is about giving women the right and the freedom to choose the paths they wish to pursue. If you don't want to get married and get knocked up, have at it. If you do, go for it. It's not about demonizing women for their choices. (Despite what you may hear on Fox News.)

My mom was a feminist and she instilled the values of the movement in me. She didn't seem like a feminist -- she had a fairly conventional Southern life. But she made it clear to me that I had many, many choices in my life, and my gender was not an obstacle.

So back to Rebecca Walker. She might have had a horrific childhood. It was probably tough growing up in the shadow of a literary icon. But at some point people have to take responsibility for their lives and their decisions. I just don't understand how she can blame an entire movement for what she deems is or was wrong in her life. That seems a huge stretch to me.

If you haven't read her article, you can find it here.

There are some great reactions to the article (by people who are better writers than I) on Slate right now, if you are interested. I really liked this one.

1 comment:

Alannah said...

Thanks for directing me to the responses on Slate. I read the original essay on Salon with great interest because, as you know, I'm currently estranged from my mother and have been thinking about all those issues a lot.

I came away from that article feeling the same way you did. My personal thought is that the issues Rebecca Walker have with her mother go far beyond feminism. The mother/daughter relationship is such a freakin' emotional minefield. Or it can be. It doesn't necessarily have to be.