“Feminism and the terrifying dependency of children” by Cristy Clark over at Larvatus Prodeo. Cristy and I have long been expressing our increasing frustration to one another with the dominance of liberal feminism over motherhood and I’m so pleased she wrote this post about it. This post of Cristy’s should be essential reading for any feminist writer before she dips her toe into motherhood topics.
Liberal feminism has failed to adequately respond to the realities of motherhood, because it has primarily focused on helping women to overcome their historic status as second-class citizens by becoming independent. This vision of equality has led to the struggle for a range of positive measures for women, including:
- the rights to education, to work and to receive equal pay;
- the right own property;
- the right to participate in public life by voting and running for political office; and
- the right to bodily autonomy, including the right to refuse to consent to sex and to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
All of these rights are important prerequisites to equality and all of them have historically been denied to women, particularly after marriage. The struggle for these rights is also an ongoing one, as they continue to be denied to the majority of women across the globe and remain under threat even where they have been achieved. Nonetheless, this vision of equality falls down when the reality of dependency enters the picture. For women who are, or become, dependent on partners, families or the State, liberal feminism’s vision of equality through independence becomes unattainable.
The right to education, to work, or to participate in public life is of limited value, for example, when participation requires that you disencumber yourself from dependents of your own.