Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thoughts on the Mom-in-Chief...

This blog post from Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation caught LaVida's eye: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/432957/michelle_obama_mom_in_chief

Sabrina I was little taken aback by Melissa’s article. Particularly the “progressive feminist “critique of Michelle’s decision to make motherhood the primary focus. While I agree with Melissa’s thoughts on race, specifically how powerful the image of a Black woman parenting her children is (something privileged white women never had to worry about), I am still stuck at the assumption that making motherhood primary is not feminist.

So what a feminist looks like is already predetermined? Maybe it’s me but I thought this whole feminist thing is about honoring our whole selves, so that we can make our own decisions. By questioning Michelle’s choice to be “mom in chief” what are we saying about women’s work? Maybe making sure her girls are supported through this transition to DC is something she WANTS and ENJOYS doing. Maybe she knows that she would not be where she is today if her family didn’t do the same for her. We have to be careful that we do not suggest that the countless hours that women have spent raising children, working jobs that did not pay them their worth, and doing all the things that are taken granted really don’t count. Yes there are many of us who did not have a choice but we can’t pretend that if money was not an issue some of us would prefer to work from home and raise kids. We shouldn’t make women’s primary responsibility parenthood, say something wrong with those of us who desire it or dismiss those us who are trying to negotiate our lives along the continuum. For another conversation, what are we saying to men that are struggling to balance their work and family lives.

We have got to stop talking about feminism at closed doors. And how arrogant! Where is the class analysis in this? I find the so called progressive feminist critique to be solely rooted in academic privilege. While we are not a monolith, we have to be careful not to define the possibilities of feminism in just one reality. There is a real danger in putting women in a box.
If we keep framing the empowerment of women as the vehicle to emulate male power structure, feminism as we historically know it will be dead. Hillary Clinton lost and the 80’s shoulder pads are now gone. Young women of all races rejected this line of thinking during the elections. We have the right to be critically thinking and do whatever makes sense for us.

Yo, hit me back!



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