Guest post: Ariane on her feminist motherhood in response to this post by blue milk. Ariane is partnered and has two sons and is heavily pregnant with a little girl.
How would you describe your feminism in one sentence? When did you become a feminist? Was it before or after you became a mother?
I can’t imagine another position, although I think I am possibly more concerned by systematic discrimination in all its forms. I think men suffer a lot of it too, in very different ways. I have always felt this way.
What has surprised you most about motherhood? How has your feminism changed over time? What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?
It is mellowing more and more to a general concern for all types of discrimination. Having two boys so far has made me very aware that it isn’t always women on the receiving end. Men need to share the child rearing (for everyone’s sake) but there are also many restrictions on males. Girls are encouraged to do boy things, but my son was hammered by his peers for dressing up as a princess and dancing like a ballerina. (I am pleased to report his teacher did not support said peers, and in fact some other boys joined in!) On the other hand, I am about to have a girl, and society’s twisted body image is a huge concern to me.
What makes your mothering feminist? How does your approach differ from a non-feminist mother’s? How does feminism impact upon your parenting?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I know any non-feminist mothers. I try to pass on the understanding that while boys and girls are definitely different, any specific quality can belong to a person of either gender. Neither gender is superior, and indeed the strengths of each broad category are complementary. The world needs us all.
Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?
I’m not sure I really know what that means, and I am sure my kids aren’t old enough to tell yet either way.
Has identifying as a feminist mother ever been difficult? Why?
No, I just don’t know of any other option.
Motherhood involves sacrifice, how do you reconcile that with being a feminist?
Any interaction with other people involves sacrifice, the closer the interaction, the more the sacrifice. I don’t know that I think of it as sacrifice, more of a cost/benefit analysis. For example with a small baby, if I run my entire life around creating a routine for the child for some period, the child will be settled and will tolerate more flexibility and I get more of my life back without causing distress and confusion for the child.
If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?
I do, and he broadly has the same views as I do. Except for pink. He has big problems with boys liking pink. No problems with girls being engineers, drinking and swearing, just boys wearing pink or wanting pink toys. Go figure.
If you’re an attachment parenting mother, what challenges if any does this pose for your feminism and how have you resolved them?
I’m not.Do you feel feminism has failed mothers and if so how? Personally, what do you think feminism has given mothers?
I think at times feminism has belittled the role of mothers, as if a stay at home mum has betrayed women. This hasn’t impacted on me personally, but I think people feel pressure to be part of the working world. Like we are buying into the male attitude that your job is your worth. Oh dear, back away Ariane, good chance I could get into a major rant on this point, I think this attitude is very damaging to males and females alike.
I think feminism has given children back their dads, at least where possible. Ideally kids have two involved parents (I have no opinions on the genders), and I think feminism has helped minimise “ghost dads”, they live there but have nothing to do with their kids. When two parents are involved in raising their kids, everybody wins.