Mothers For Women’s Lib

// 20 April 2009

I just wanted to highlight an excellent UK blog on feminist motherhood and childcare, Mothers For Women’s Lib:

Feminism changes a mother, and motherhood changes a feminist – here is a place for us to talk about raising our children as feminist mothers, the challenges we face, or feminist issues which are especially important to us as mothers. As feminist mums, we have a unique take on this thing we call feminism, and we have a lot to say!

Recent posts question why children are usually given their father’s surname despite the mother having carried and given birth to them and often being the primary care giver, challenge discrimination against children in public places, highlight the prevalence of domestic violence during pregnancy and despair at the insistent gendering of children’s toys.

I think these bloggers are making an excellent job of covering an area that online feminism can ignore. As mostly younger women writing for and running blogs like The F Word or Feministing, we talk a lot about a woman’s right to choose an abortion or to resist the social pressure to have children, but less so about a woman’s right to choose to have a child on their terms and raise children along feminist lines. I must admit that I do get a bit of a kick out of telling people that I don’t want children, as the expectation still seems to be that women should have children, that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t want them, and I spend little time thinking about the challenges faced on a daily basis by women who do have children. Considering that most women do have or will have children in their lifetime, I have been ignoring one of the biggest and most relevant feminist issues and I hope that by reading blogs like Mothers For Women’s Lib I can address this ignorance on my part and begin supporting feminist and not-so-feminist mothers alike.

Raising a new generation who can tackle sexism and other forms of discrimination while attempting to challenge all the patriarchal, heteronormative, traditionally gendered bullshit that kids are still fed from day one in our society has got to be one of the most – if not the most – important responsibilities any feminist can take on, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who do. Whether or not I will in fact end up joining them remains to be seen!

Comments From You

Alex T // Posted 20 April 2009 at 6:02 pm

Thank you very much for this, Laura. What a great blog, and great timing for me as my first baby’s due in 8 weeks!

Ruth Moss // Posted 21 April 2009 at 9:33 am

Thanks so much for highlighting our group blog. Obviously if any other UK Mums want to write for it instructions on how to get involved are on the blog.

Amity // Posted 21 April 2009 at 5:06 pm

Thank you for saying that, Laura. It really can feel like issues relevant to mothers are completely ignored by mainstream feminism so it’s nice to see someone ackowledge that disparity and recommend an excellent blog like Mothers For Women’s Lib.

Annika // Posted 21 April 2009 at 6:00 pm

You know something? I always said I didn’t want kids, didn’t think it was for me. Quite adamant about it, actually.

Now, my first born will be due next week friday (YAY!) and I will be starting a new journey in my life as a mum. The world looks a little different now. New lessons to learn and new challenges. But I’m still me, still a feminist, still pro-choice, still finding my way in life, only now I get the opportunity to teach my values and beliefs to my child. I wouldn’t change a thing. Seriously.

Thanks for highlighting the blog, we are a fairly decent and welcoming bunch :)

Kate // Posted 21 April 2009 at 10:50 pm

Definitely a great thing to highlight.

I also get a secret kick out of telling people I’m not going to have children…

Mothers for Women’s Lib looks brilliant, I’m really interested in the points it is raising. Certainly one to follow.

Kez // Posted 22 April 2009 at 4:55 pm

Looks like an excellent blog, thanks. I’d love to contribute something. I notice the main contributors have young children or are pregnant… would there be any interest in a post on mothering teenagers, do you think? (I have one of each, a teenager and a toddler! The challenges never stop coming….)

Ruth Moss // Posted 23 April 2009 at 5:49 am

Hi Kez,

Can you email me?

msrlmoss AT googlemail DOT com?

Thanks

Ruth x

Daniel // Posted 23 April 2009 at 11:40 am

Blogs like the one mentioned are a good thing for mothers, and they also have a value that perhaps is less obvious to many feminists.

Feminist websites/blogs that focus on parenting issues are a good way to educate many men about feminism. Fathers with daughters are often made aware of sex discrimination for the first time through their daughter’s experiences.

As a fundamental argument for why men should care about feminism, the ‘what sort of world do you want for your daughter?’ question is quite powerful.

Penelope // Posted 23 April 2009 at 2:31 pm

Daniel, it’s actually always annoyed me the only way men become enlightened by feminism is by their daughter’s experience.

It’s the men who find it fine to wolf whistle and scare 16 year olds until they’re reminded they’re the age of their daughters. Unnecessary really.

Men shouldn’t need to be made to have empathy by their children – are normal every day women enough to spawn that much hatred you need your own child to remind you they’re not demons?!

“Objectify, oppress and take any value women have all you want, as long as I’m not reminded of my daughter.”

It seems a lot of people work hard to make lives harder for their daughters. The people who make sexist adverts with malice behind them, people who go to lab dancing clubs to feel powerful. If you constantly tread and defeat women out of inferiority complexes, making life harder for women for your own cold male satisfaction. All I can say is…. tough when your own blood comes into it.

Daniel // Posted 24 April 2009 at 11:24 am

Penelope,

I completely agree with you. I’m going to say that again just so what I say next can be read in that context: I completely agree with you.

All, I’m saying is that the inherent empathy that a father has for his daughter may open his eyes to sexism that he was previously oblivious to. It’s an in for feminists to get males to re-examine their actions, and maybe gain an ally.

Ideally we’d like men to always consider the effect their actions have on women. However, because we live in a society with a male-centric view, many men will have a very limited exposure to the female point of view until they have a family of their own.

My point was only that feminist blogs/sites that focus on parenting issues have a greater opportunity to reform men than most.

Anne Onne // Posted 24 April 2009 at 1:48 pm

I get what you mean, Penelope and Daniel. The fact that men need to have daughters to give a shit about women does make me angry. After all, men should care about all women.

However, the way society educates heterosexual men is that their sexual partners are an adversary of sorts in a ‘battle of the sexes’. It’s not that men aren’t taught to care about women at all, but that they are taught to be selfish, to use the privilege they have against their mothers wives and girlfriends. Many men fall into this pattern and expect things of their wives that they would never in a million years do in return, because they are brought up to feel like they are owed it. Whilst they are otherwise fairly decent normal people, they have not been brought up to question. The privilege they hold in comparison to their partners or family is much harder to give up. It is more ingrained, it is part of what they really feel they deserve, and society tells them every day it is their right.

When someone has a child, the feeling of protectiveness over that little person is different to what we may feel for a partner or relative or friend. We want to do the best by them because they are entirely dependent on us. We wonder if the world will allow them to fulfil their potential. Maybe it’s our cultural programming, maybe it’s partly genetic, but we want to protect our offspring. Fathers can be very patriarchal towards their daughters, too, and this desire to protect is not always borne out in a healthy way (let’s not get into abuse and assume we’re talking about men who genuinely want to help their kids), but it requires less sacrifice of the privileges they have.

I have noticed a lot of men say that their experiencing fatherhood makes them think about all the crap their daughter will face. Because adults are taught to be protective of children, and because we are taught to want the best for them. It tends to give people cause for reflection.

Just like I have seen a lot of women say that being a mother makes them want to make the world a better place for their daughters or sons.

I don’t personally like that men feel OK with using their privilege against their wives and girlfriends and mothers and other women in their lives until they have a daughter when they suddenly realise that society makes it suck to be female. I wish that the trigger would come earlier, that they would have been brought up to question their programming and not be selfish. But for a lot of people, it seems the desire to protect those we are entirely responsible for, affects a lot of people male and female. It seems that for men, it becomes more important to confront sexism against one’s daughter, because one feels less likely to be the purveyor of that sexism than as a partner.

Imogen Howson // Posted 24 April 2009 at 5:08 pm

“All, I’m saying is that the inherent empathy that a father has for his daughter may open his eyes to sexism that he was previously oblivious to.”

Yes. And honestly, as a young woman (15 years ago), *I* didn’t care a great deal about feminism until I had my daughters. I was fortunate enough not to have been particularly discriminated against–or to have been unaware of (and therefore uncaring about) the discrimination I did experience, and feminism never hit me as something I *should* care about.

But when I had my first daughter, all those myriad little unfairnesses and dangers of a sexist society rose into the forefront of my mind. There are things I don’t much mind putting up with when it comes to people’s treatment of me, but I’m damned if I’ll accept them for my daughters.

I expect there are unpleasant men who’ll happily harass “those women out there” but be protective of “his women”, and that’s hardly a great feminist advance. But there are probably also men–and women, like me–who just never thought of feminism until it became something that mattered to people they loved. You may not necessarily think that’s a great feminst advance, either, but at least we end up in the right place, which has to be a good thing.

Jessica // Posted 2 May 2009 at 5:38 am

I just did a search on womens lib and was so excited to run across this. I don’t really know what to post but I do know that I would love some advice and encouragement from anyone that would give it. I have been married to this same asshole for nearly 11 years and to tell the truth I am not feeling all that strong right now. Do you have any websites, advice, etc that would help a women that believes that she deserves better treatment but at the same time finds herself feeling too low to demand it. I could tell some horrible stories , true stories of things he’s said and done to me through the years but for tonight, I will just say this. Thanks for being here and again I welcome any advice on self esteem, self confidence, and on being a single mom when the time comes that I am strong enough to say , enough!

Jess // Posted 6 May 2009 at 2:10 pm

Hi Jessica,

If you are considering splitting up, I just learned about Maypole, an organisation recently set up to help mothers through parental seperations. They might be able to help?

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