Guest post: Janine from Lost in Reverie on her feminist motherhood, in response to this post by blue milk. She is partnered with a son.
How would you describe your feminism in one sentence?
Questioning social norms and expectations, teaching others to do the same, and knowing that the tenets of feminist mean social justice for women (and men).
When did you become a feminist?
Through the kick-arse nuns at some of my primary and high schools, and my social science teacher at one of my high schools who was a formidable and brilliant woman.
Was it before or after you became a mother?
Way, way before!
What has surprised you most about motherhood?
How much fierce and protective love I can feel for another human being.
How has your feminism changed over time?
I have realised that men have to fight for social equality alongside women, as they are our partners (if you’re het), workmates and friends, otherwise we are doing it alone. Idealistic I know, as it’s not in many mens’ interests to change, but there are plenty of men who believe in justice and equality.
What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?
I knew this but having a child helped me to experience it: it has made me realise that there are many women out there who are disadvantaged, financially, socially and emotionally, just through the act of having a baby.
What makes your mothering feminist?
Teaching my son that all people are different, but equal. Questioning everything we see. As your sub-heading says, “Thinking+motherhood=feminist”.
How does feminism impact upon your parenting?
Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother?
When I was caring full-time for my son (who was born with a physical disability) I realised how dependent I was on my partner financially, and it freaked me out – I literally lost my independence and had to sacrifice my career temporarily. There was no choice though, and that freaked me out more! Guess this is a better answer for above.
Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?
Has identifying as a feminist mother ever been difficult? Why?
Motherhood involves sacrifice, how do you reconcile that with being a feminist?
See previous answer.
If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?
Even though my partner would never call himself a ‘pro-feminist man’ (urgh, I hate that term), he believes in what feminism has achieved and is still trying to achieve. Issues of gender politics are always part of his teaching. He wouldn’t have chosen to be with me if he couldn’t handle my belief system!
Do you feel feminism has failed mothers and if so how?
No. Except for the arguments by some supposed feminists about the stay at home/work conundrum, arguing that it is an either/or choice, rather than a set of circumstances that often mean women have no choice and need support (structural and personal) to be both a parent and/or a paid worker, or neither.
Personally, what do you think feminism has given mothers?
The ability to have a voice in the social world, and the potential to change structural inequalities, for themselves and their children