in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

identity

john's mural (thanks, grammie!) always
makes me feel like we're in "where the
wild things are" - where the forest grows
in max's room? it's real chez john.
when i first read about this american university professor who breastfed her infant in front of her class, i found myself somewhat befuddled. on the one hand, i understand the difficulty of not being able to take a sick kid to daycare - especially on short notice and without a partner to help pick up the slack. on the other hand, it was the first day of class and SURELY a teaching assistant could have just as well handed out the syllabus and let her stay home with her child. 

but the more i read - and i encourage you to follow the links in that article, to try to get a more well-rounded picture of the story than offered in just one author's point of view - the more i realized that this isn't a story about breastfeeding. it's not even a story about kids, per se. 

this is a story about identity.

you see, the professor in question is a self-identified feminist, and in fact the class she was teaching that day was called "sex, gender, and culture" - in a blog the professor wrote she referred to it as a feminist anthropology class. and with all of the respect in the world for the progenitors of the feminist movement who have earned numerous rights and privileges for women such as myself ... i can't help but feel like this professor's version of feminism is horrifying.

she's not upset that she's getting all of this attention for simply breastfeeding, per se. she's not arguing whether women should or should not be able to breastfeed in public. she's upset because this media attention will forever associate her with her "biological condition" of being a mother.

in other words, being a mother is no more of a part of a definition of herself than is having a cold. it's just a biological condition.

now, i'm not knocking the prof's parenting skills. she may be an amazing mother who is raising an incredible child. and i think this travesty is born out of a well-meaning belief that gender should not define who we are - that women truly should be allowed to be college professors and car mechanics and doctors and street sweepers and whatever else they are, without regard to their gender and family status and whatnot.

but there is something, to me, inherently dishonest about a mother who wants to shun motherhood as a part of her self-definition.

i recognize that we all identity differently, and where "mother" falls on the list of ways we would describe ourselves would and should vary drastically between different women. and i even have the utmost respect for an individual woman's right to choose where that falls in her many definitions of herself.

but to try to pawn off this concept that being a mother is inconsequential to who she is is revolting to me. and to try to convince women that it doesn't matter that they are women is equally abhorrent, in my mind.

so if feminism means everything has to be gender neutral, and that i can't be a "mom and wife and sister and daughter and granddaughter etc. who works and plays cello and reads books and loves sushi and etc.", then please count me out.

i prefer a brand of feminism that says being a woman is an integral part of who i am - being a mother is an integral part of who i am - and who i am is amazing and can do whatever i set my mind to, not despite those things but because of them.

so if you want to know me as that mom who blogs? yeah, that's ok. and that identity is in no way a threat to what i think feminism ought to mean.

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