Here is a beautifully written response to “How has your feminism changed over time? What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?” I find the response applicable not just to mothers or soon-to-be-mothers, but to all women.
Motherhood made me more acutely aware of the extent of sex discrimination against mothers. Motherhood pushed me to examine more closely, and finally reject, “equality” as a useful idea. Motherhood forced me to feel in my bones how much I had been able to “pass” as male, despite many many instances of sex discrimination in my schooling and employment.
“Equality” was, I thought, the right to be treated as if I were a white man. I didn’t see that such a standard was not okay. As a student, I could envision being “equal” to a white man since I saw myself as behaving and performing like a white man. As a lawyer, I thought I could be “equal” to my male counterparts because my work was the same, if only people did not alter their behavior toward me because I was female. But there is no male pregnant person. There is no male breastfeeding person. Note I use “male” here to mean “a person who appears to be and is believed to be male” and am making no statement about what physical characteristics constitute gender.
What this made me understand, and forces me to constantly examine, is that feminism can not be about equality because there is no such thing as equality. It has to be about fairness, balance, real choices, and humanity. I don’t want to be free to be “white man.” I want to be free to be whoever I am.
(Cross-posted to The Good Life)