Irish Examiner 15 September 2016
Family First Comment: This is a superb read.
“…The solution for women is to formally recognise, once and for all, that mothers working in their homes are among the most vital workers in any economy. The vast majority of mothers would choose to take time out or go part-time in their children’s early years if they could. At some point official feminism must ask itself why it finds this desire so dangerous and discountable.”
With a number of “maternal feminist” organisations like Mothers at Home Matter and All Mothers Work and the new Women’s Equality Party, Olorenshaw, a former lawyer and trade union activist, is tackling head-on the grotesque devaluation of motherhood. She puts it like this: “The reality is stark: mothers are, in gradual steps, losing the rights, freedom and economic ability to raise their own children, within the patriarchal and capitalist project.” She describes this as “market-driven environmental and social destruction”.
…The fatwa against maternal essentialism was explained for me years ago by childcare guru Penelope Leach: Motherhood loses women status so its importance is too dangerous to admit. But where does this society-wide fear of motherhood come from? Fear of the power and love of mothers. Gambotto-Burke nails it: “fear of sensitivity, fear of what men identify as weakness, fear of mutability, fear of chaos, fear of intimacy”. Olorenshaw brilliantly shows how motherhood, the very giving and sustaining of life, is being erased from public discourse. The Midwives Alliance of North America recently made a play to erase the word “woman” from its literature and replace it with “birthing person” and “pregnant person”. What next? Chest-feeding instead of breast-feeding, she suggests. Olorenshaw brings this right back to Plato’s Republic which saw babies removed from their mothers and mothers made to breastfeed any baby other than their own. A shiver of fear ran through me as I typed that last line.
This is what we are still up against in Western culture: The demand that our babies and children be taken away from us and reared by persons unknown. Whenever it is suggested that children suffer when their parents do not have enough time for them — such as in the report prepared by Cork University with the citizens’ participation unit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs which was leaked a couple of weeks ago — there is hysteria in case it will make “working mothers” feel guilty. How about all the other things such evidence might tell us, such as that parents’ work in the home is vital to children’s mental and physical health and deserves support, not stigma and the risk of poverty? But you won’t get this response from Official Feminism. Instead you’ll get demands for more and better childcare places.
…The solution for women is to formally recognise, once and for all, that mothers working in their homes are among the most vital workers in any economy. The vast majority of mothers would choose to take time out or go part-time in their children’s early years if they could. At some point official feminism must ask itself why it finds this desire so dangerous and discountable.
READ MORE: http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/victoria-white/why-are-mothers-working-in-their-homes-not-seen-as-vital-to-society-421041.html
Irish Examiner 15 September 2016