Disillusioned Daughter of Feminism

Disillusioned Daughter of Feminism

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Thirty-eight-year-old Rebecca Walker doesn't take the joys of motherhood for granted.

I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.'

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother—thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.

Rebecca's mother, Alice Walker, is the author of The Color Purple and revered as a trailblazer in the feminist movement. Now Rebecca Walker is speaking out on the negative impact her mother's views had on their family and her childhood. She's quick to point out that her views are nearly opposite of her mother's.

In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, 3-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late—I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck.

Rebecca Walker describes a childhood in which she wasn't allowed to play with dolls (due to her mother's fear it would bring out a maternal instinct). She was left with babysitters for months on end as her mom traveled and pursued self-fulfillment. Rebecca became sexually active at 13, got pregnant at 14 and made arrangements for her own abortion (with her mother's knowledge and support). But living out the virtues of feminism only brought pain to Rebecca. 

My mother may be revered by women around the world—goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution.

Her final point is telling and sad: 

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women's movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them—as I have learned to my cost. I don't want to hurt my mother, but I cannot stay silent. I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations.

Walker's reflection on what feminism has wrought reminds me of Paul's words in Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Any philosophy not based on the values of God and His Word is doomed to produce bad results. While feminism has promised to liberate women, only Jesus Christ, who truly has their best interest at heart, can. 

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  • Perhaps a better title would be "Disillusioned Daughter of Extreme Feminism". As far as I can tell, there is a range in Feminist beliefs--some are compatible with scripture, others not. I guess I'm tired of the "either have as many kids as possible and never work outside the home or be a rabid man-and-kid-hating-feminist" false dilemma that I encountered growing up in very conservative circles. Feminists can love kids and be happily married--it isn't impossible. While I certainly don't agree with many tenants of feminism, it has nonetheless done some good (the vote, more equal wages).

    The basic problem I have with the feminist movement is that it tends to exalt women at the expense of men. I've seen the reverse happen in very strict conservative circles, too.  I'd prefer that Christians would find a balance that allows women (even married ones) to use their God-given talents without being accused of being "career-women" (aka ungodly/feminist), and yet valued motherhood and family.

  • @ ARay

    Thank you for acknowledging the many faces and schools of thought in modern feminism. I would add, however, that not every (or even most) people who call themselves feminist (myself included) want to "exalt women at the expense of men." That false dichotomy is also at the heart of the belief that feminism is anti-SAHM. The ideal center between very conservative circles and extreme feminists (those ladies at whom most of us roll our eyes and wish would stop misrepresenting us every time they opened their mouths) would honor the choices of women (and men!) who choose to work or choose to stay at home if they are financially able to do so. Ideally both choices would be respected. I've never understood why if Focus values family so much, they didn't advocate extending maternity/paternity leave so that more people could afford to stay home with their small children.

  • The problem with the word "feminism" is that it's a loaded term and most feminists cannot use it at all without some sort of backlash except in the company of other feminists.  Within the mainstream, it has a negative connotation (much like the word "evangelical").

    The reason is simply that to many, feminism > men.  Notice how the term focuses on women alone and not "gender equality".  Now, in years past this may have been justified as there was huge lopsided discrimination (e.g. women being denied job opportunities) but given that more women earn college degrees than men, can become CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, can serve in the military even in combat siuations, etc. you'd be hard pressed to say that women are as a whole still getting seriously shrifted in this country.

    Also consider that to many who would call themselves feminists, the focus and effort is almost exlusively on the injustices and evelation towards women rather than towards both genders.  For example, even though most feminists would say they are for gender equality you don't see many women jumping up and down to reform Family Law in this country despite the fact that it is blatantly tilted towards the woman (although that is changing, mainly because women are now feeling the effects of that unfairness: ideas.time.com/.../the-de-gendering-of-divorce-wives-pay-ex-husbands-alimony-too).  

    What's also unfortunate is that according to many feminists, unless you believe and stand for X, Y and Z, you aren't a "true feminist".  Unless you are pro-choice, unless you highly discourage stay-at-home-motherhood, etc. then you aren't really for women's rights and by their logical extension, therefore must be against them.

  • I will leave the argument about the definition of feminism to others (yes there are many facets and kinds of feminism), but the saddest thing in this article was this quote:

    "You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale."

    How sad being basically told by your own mother all your young life,  that "You, my child, are an unwanted burden to me, you make me feel unhappy and enslaved." Because she can't go saying to her child that children enslave women without implying that, even if she never said it directly. I do not envy the kind of mother-daughter relationship they must have now...unless there is some forgiveness and understanding going on.

  • As with any personal account, you must take this with a grain of salt. Someone raised in a legalistic Evangelical Christian home could come out with a similar wounded memoir. Still, this is a frank look at some of the realities of feminist ideals. I found it interesting that Rebecca encourages women to have children now so they don't miss out, and even regrets waiting as long as she did to embrace motherhood. Paul says to "test everything and hold onto what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). Rebecca says a similar thing when she cites feminism as an experiment in need of alterations. And while her experience is extreme, it is the experience of an "insider" of the movement, which makes her credible.

  • Motherhood is not for every single women.  Their are women out there that do not desire to be mothers, I don't think their is anything wrong with that.  God made individuals with different desires, aspirations.  Yes the majority of women will find fulfillment in being mothers, but their are some that will not desire it.

    Their is more to us women than marriage and family.  

  • I'm feeling very skeptical about this article.

    Yes, these are Rebecca Walker's true feelings about children ,but at the same time this article make it seem she anti-feminism.

    Like her mother, Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker is a feminist writer but isn't extreme as her mother. No I don't like how Alice Walker treated her daughter, but that was during a time where being black and female you were seen as sub-human. Bearing children was seen as something that kept women quiet and preventing them to do valuable things with their life.

    Feminism isn't the enemy here, racism and sexism is.

    Seriously Boundless feminism is not a bad word.

  • Second-wave feminism and third-wave feminism are very different and should not be lumped together.

  • I'd like to correct a mistake I made: failure to acknowledge non-Western feminisms. Emergent Arab, Persian, Indian etc. feminisms may end up looking radically different than third-wave Western feminism, but the adherents are no less feminist for it.

    Institutional sexism may be largely dead (in W. Europe and N. America), but there are other more insidious prejudices at work and women are major perpetrators of many of them. I often find myself expecting more out of female academics than I do of male academics because of my perception women as a whole (myself included) will be judged for any and all of their mistakes. Female CEOs are reportedly much harsher on female employees for similar reasons. Part of the reason that men still make more than women is that when a man is offered a job with a certain salary, he may say, "That is not enough; my skills are worth more than that" and women are much less likely to do that. This non-institutional sexism is every bit as dangerous for men as it is for women. Women, on average, have come out 'ahead' in the recent recession because they have been more willing to either go (back) to school to prepare for a different career or take a lower paying job. Men had a harder time because some were unwilling to take jobs that were "beneath them."

  • I was hopeful that by joining the "community" I would find a share button on this article.  But alas, I still don't see one.  I would like to pass this along.

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