Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alice Walker Single-Handledly Ruined Motherhood, What Did You Ever Do?

Educated and entitled people continue to be pissed off at the families that provided them with education and the ability to be entitled. Take Rebecca Walker for example, daughter of second-wave feminist and world-renowned author Alice Walker, of "The Color Purple" fame. Rebecca has taken the time to air her dirty familial laundry in a Daily Mail article that claims her mother's feminist views and thirst for her own success kept them from developing a healthy relationship. Furthermore, Rebecca argues that her mother's negative views on motherhood - namely, that it keeps women from accomplishing things they might otherwise accomplish - threw a metaphorical wrench in their relationship, keeping Alice from getting to know her grandchild, and fueling Rebecca's matricidal tendencies.

Salon writer Phyllis Chesler asserts that the problem here lies with the fact that it is impossible for women to simultaneously maintain lucrative careers and be good mothers. I admit this is a delicate balance. One of the reasons I'm hesitant about having children - at least until I'm 30 - is because I want to make sure I accomplish a variety of things (i.e. getting my Doctorate or at least my Masters, traveling, getting published, etc.) before I settle down and pop out some babies. As I get older, I do yearn for the comfort that having a family brings, but I don't think Chesler's assertion is necessarily correct. I can name a number of women off the top of my head who have and continue to successfully toe the line between being career-driven and necessarily maternal. Hillary Clinton, for example. It's definitely no easy task, but it's not impossible, as Chesler writes.


Rebecca's claims have nothing to do with feminism, except that she and her mother happen to both call themselves feminists. Feminism has not robbed women of the ability or the desire to have children as Rebecca claims. If that were true, the population would be dwindling, not growing. Furthermore, the idea that it was Alice's feminism that doomed the relationship is laughable at best. There are other factors to consider here. Certainly Alice wasn't the best mother, but the idea that her ideologies are all at once wholly responsible for the demise of their mother-daughter relationship is pedestrian and lacks the acknowledgment of other problems mothers and daughters face as they each grow older.


-Jess

1 comment:

LOLSAM said...

My mother worked 50 hours a week as an administrative higher-up in various Baltimore-Washington area hospitals my entire life and she was a fantastic mother. I don't think she struggled that much. Maybe she had some guilt, but my siblings and I have made it clear to her that she was, and still is, a fantastic mother.