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Social Sciences
Reaction Paper
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Feminism and Motherhood (Reaction Paper Sample)


The topic of this paper poses the question do motherhood and feminism compete with or compliment each other. There are many debates emanating from this question. These arguments are proposed and a reaction for the entire argument stated in this paper.

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Feminism and Motherhood
Since the 1960s when the wave of feminism took center stage globally, most people, including feminists themselves would agree that since then a lot has changed in terms of the image of a woman in society. Currently, with the exception of a few countries such as in the Arab Emirates, women have all the rights that their opposite gender has, such as voting, same job opportunities, education and so forth. However, even in this new millennium, the question still arises as to whether the dream of those who campaigned for female rights during those years has been fully realized in today’s society. This is especially so with the woman still being viewed the being responsible for the kitchen and the children. Therefore, the question of whether indeed women are and shall always be expected to be responsible in these two senses through the institution of marriage is always an open subject. This paper will try to look at these issues through looking at particular questions that regard them.
First, the question of what it means for a woman to have a choice between going to work and staying at home to look after her kids is a major source of conflict between die-hard feminists and those they view as being soft feminists. Amongst those who believe that the nuclear family setting is retrogression from the successes made in the 60s and 70s, is Jon Roesch in her article, Turning Back the Clock? Women, Work and Family Today; where she clearly states that the belief in the nuclear family setting is anti-feminist. One of the examples used in the article is the legislation brought forward by former US president George Bush known as the Health Marriage Initiative. To fund this project, his government diverted $1.5 billion from other programs that represented poor women and children (Roesch, internet source). Therefore, she argues, diverting money from projects that obviously need it more than this one just to teach heterosexual couples on marriage, while at the same time being opposed to gay and lesbian relations, is being hypocritical.
Therefore, going per her argument, the mere fact that women are expected to choose between going to work or staying at home is a change in tact that simply shows that feminism is still thrives in our society. However, others that see the argument from a different line, even feminists themselves, easily contest the line of thought. One of the arguments made by Susan Bell and Karen Offen in their book Women, the Family and Freedom, they argue that in the 1950s, the main argument made by those anti-feminist was that socially, the place for women was in the homestead with their children and taking care of the family (Offen & Bell, 79).
However, they continue to say that in those early stages of the movement, the main goal of the women that took to the streets in cities like New York was to demand for equal rights like their male counterparts. The equal rights being regarded in this instant was that these women would be able to go to any work they chose to and not get kicked out due to their gender, or getting similar salaries as their male counterparts in the same job positions. As these two further state, during this time, the battle was not so much into personal issues such as who cooks and who looks after the kids. Rather, it was a wholly encompassing movement and looked at general equal rights. Therefore, since women today get to make the personal choice of whether to go to work or to become stay at home mothers, then many of the original women rights activists would consider this a win situation.
However, some argue that the fact that women have to face this choice in itself is demeaning to equality. This point however does not hold water. There are several reasons for this. As Eugen Lupri meditates, within a society, it is very hard to find a person from whom nothing is expected (Lupri, Pg 136). In other words, to state that giving a woman such a choice in the first place is forcing the issue on her and thus is a repressive move would be to overlook the statement that to have responsibility requires making of choices. The other way is also true, that choices have responsibilities. Nevertheless, there are those still who argue that this notion in itself gives pressure to the woman since within a particular threshold of time, she is expected to have children and maybe even get married. However, there are two underlying issues here, the first being indeed that this choice is the woman’s to make. She has to choose which side best suites her personal principles and which contravene her beliefs, depending on her outlook towards life. Secondly, choices have consequences as stated earlier and whatever her choice, she is the one that lives with the consequences.
It is however undeniable that the society has a great impact on these choices. Most women, including die-hard feminists, have admitted to falling to society’s pressures towards choices such as having children and deciding how to take care of them, either full time as stay at home mothers or part time while working. The society in this instance mainly refers to three main aspects of it, these being the church or religion, the family and the media. Religion is critical to the decision the woman makes, since most religions contain strict principles on matters concerning marriage and child rearing. It is also important to note that most religions are highly patriarchal (Lupri, 51), thus the choice is narrowed down greatly for the woman.
The media today is being bashed by feminists as being a leading voice in taking back the gains made on the issue. This is because most of them see the media...
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