Feminism should embrace womanhood

By By Heather Berg

By Heather Berg

I would consider myself a feminist, but I would not ever want to be categorized with what the general public views as a “feminist”8212;a radical woman who refuses to have children because they would put her under house arrest and cripple her realization of her full potential, as she wouldn’t be able to go out and have a full-time job at an office wearing a business suit.

All the same, I absolutely believe in equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities at jobs, schools, public offices, etc. I do admit that I have had far too many experiences where my intellect was seriously questioned simply because I am a female.

I am not a girly-girl8212;I’ve played many sports growing up and through high school8212;but I do not believe an all-male draft during war time is discriminatory. It’s common sense. My heart’s greatest desire is to one day have children who always know where to find me and who know they are my first priority. Unfortunately, there are many single mothers who find themselves in difficult situations juggling school, a job and motherhood, and I know what it’s like to be the child in that situation. So where do I stand?

About a month and a half ago I was introduced to the contemporary philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain and her article “The Mothers of the Disappeared: An Encounter with Antigone’s Daughters,” which portrays an entirely different view of feminism. She refers to viewing the public life of a person as the one that inhabits real choices, authentic power and efficacious control, whereas through the eyes of some feminists, the private life inhabits powerlessness, necessity and irrationality.

The view of public versus private life is wholly inadequate. We are members of a family before contributors to society. This is not to cast a shadow on the fact that women were, without a doubt, given less opportunities throughout history, from voting to employment to wages. But it is one thing to suggest that women need to think and act like men in order to be accepted by society, and another to say that women could challenge society and common views on women and motherhood.

Elshtain said, “To see women’s traditional roles and activities as wholly oppressive was itself oppressive to women.”

I do not feel a need to give up my inherent characteristics and talents of womanhood (what Elshtain refers to as “maternal thinking”) in order to fit in. If those characteristics were cast off by me and other women, this world could become a pretty aggressive and miserable place.

Despite negative past experiences, I do not walk around in life feeling as if I’m constantly disabled, stomped down and the sufferer of oppression. Perhaps now is the time for women to cast off the pundits who tell the world that in order for a woman to be a real success, she needs to sit behind a desk. And I’m not even going to get into the pundits’ claims that women are prone to being uneducated if they spend significant time raising children8212;it’s just bogus. Jane Addams, as Elshtain notes, wrote that women “laid the foundations of an ordered society” and it started in the home.

Perhaps the women’s movement had to be as radical as it was in the past to create enough voice for equality measures to be met. But there is overcorrection in all things if one goes too far. If the world today is as ugly as it is, that means we are doing something wrong. Women walking around feeling as though they need to act as if they’re in a cage fight is not going to help.

Demand that society embrace womanhood and value it for what it is8212;a dire necessity the world is beginning to miss. You do not need to change who you are, but change how they think.

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Editor’s Note8212;Heather Berg is the chairwoman of the U College Republicans.

Heather Berg