Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feminism and Motherhood: not incompatible

One of my Facebook friends just posted an article from Thought Catalog entitled "I look down on young women with husbands and children and I'm not sorry." The gist of the article was that women who choose to marry at a young age are sacrificing their opportunities for adventure, travel, happiness, etc. Oh, and they are choosing to do something just about anyone could do instead of something that really stretches them and helps them grow. I understand that not every woman's goal is marriage, but unlike the author of the article, I think being a feminist really does mean supporting every woman's right to choose what she wants to do with her life, without stating that a particular choice (in this case motherhood) is worthless.

Let me be frank. I am twenty four years old, a college student, and I am single. Several of my cousins have married at age 18 or 19. Some of them have more than one child by now. My life hasn't worked out that way, and I'm actually grateful for that. I have had the opportunity to earn my BA in Spanish, travel, serve a mission in Argentina, and begin my MA in Hispanic Literature. This summer, because I am otherwise unattached, I plan to go to Portugal, Spain and London. I may not have had these opportunities were I married, but I look forward to the opportunity for marriage when it DOES come along. In fact, I believe it will be one of the most important milestones in my life. I consider myself a feminist, but that is not incompatible with wanting a family someday. Also, putting other women down for their life choices isn't part of my definition of feminism. I'm grateful for the example of my mother, my aunts, my young women leaders (married and unmarried) and my female professors. Through their examples, I've learned that women can choose how to define femininity and they can form lasting family relationships while still leading wonderful, exciting lives. I'm also grateful for the examples of the good men I know who treat women with respect and encourage them to pursue their goals. This includes my father, my brother, my uncles, my male professors, and many friends. From my observations, parenthood is hard work, and it's a full time commitment, whether the parents work outside the home or not. I admire the many people I know who make the time to put their family first while still maintaining a successful career.