Rebecca Walker, daughter of feminism and author Alice Walker, who publicly called her own child a calamity in her life, has some interesting things to say about the movement. Well worth reading.
the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother’s knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.
A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.
Although I was on the Pill - something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend - I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don’t remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.
Although I believe that an abortion was the right decision for me then, the aftermath haunted me for decades. It ate away at my self-confidence and, until I had Tenzin, I was terrified that I’d never be able to have a baby because of what I had done to the child I had destroyed. For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.
As a child, I was terribly confused, because while I was being fed a strong feminist message, I actually yearned for a traditional mother.
I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It’s helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it’s caused for my contemporaries?
Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: ‘I’d like a child. If it happens, it happens.’ I tell them: ‘Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.’ As I know only too well.
Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.
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.
Walker’s views closely mirror those of Lori Gottlieb, who wrote this popular, much-debated article for Atlantic a few months ago.
There’s something to this, I think. Even if it’s nothing more than the opportunity cost of a chance not taken, getting something always means giving up something else.
Has feminism been worth the cost to those who have been on its front lines? And what about the families they left behind by not having them or not being there?
The questions applies to many men as well, of course, although it’s less interesting to me because our work/sport-centric lifestyles haven’t undergone the radical change that feminism demands of young women.
Having children does enslave women, in a certain sense of the word. Many mothers give up a good portion of their lives for their children. Of course, the same is true for men – at least the ones who don’t run away from their responsibilities. Having children is the most demanding activity in a person’s life, man or woman. It’s also the only thing worth doing on this planet.