Open Letter to a Motherhood-Hating Radical Feminist

bullhornDEAR AMY GLASS,

I READ WITH INTEREST YOUR RECENT ARTICLE, ENTITLED I LOOK DOWN ON YOUNG WOMEN WITH HUSBANDS AND KIDS AND I’M NOT SORRY. Oh, shoot, am I too loud? My apologies for using this here bullhorn, but seeing as I’m with my wife and you’re looking down on us – way down on us, given the size of our situation – I thought it would be the only thing capable of getting your attention.

As a young man rapidly and artificially approaching middle age (4 kids in 6 years will do that to you), it brought a chuckle to think that there are feminists out there complaining that women won’t be dignified as women until they accomplish “important” goals, like “backpacking on her own through Asia, getting a promotion, or landing a dream job,” all things which presumably make such women “equal with men.” Thanks for the laugh. As soon as I do any of those three things, I’ll consider myself equal with radical feminists.

As it turns out, I’m a teacher – and since one of my employers reads this blog daily, let me clarify my above comment to say that I greatly enjoy my job, but my dream job would consist of being paid a 6-figure salary to taste test for Zagat – anyway, I’m a teacher, which means I stay home with my kids during the summer. It’s not “the path of least resistance,” I can assure you. I should know. Every year, I see the stark contrast between my relatively easy, white collar, professional life and my stay-at-home summer attempts to accomplish … well, anything at all. You see, you compare “house work” with “real work,” but I have to say, when I go about my real work 9 months of the year, I don’t have to go around picking up things I just put away, or cleaning a never-ending cycle of dishes, or changing clothes several times a day to refresh after being spit up on. I don’t chase my students down the hall to wipe their boogers or get  inedible objects out of their hands. I lecture them. From a podium. And they listen. Most of the time.

My mother was a feminist democrat in the 60′s in a house run by my republican, businessman grandfather. She wanted to go off and join the hippies, and I daresay she longed to run away to Woodstock (it was her senior year, after all). She also had a subscription in the early days of Ms. Magazine. My mother was a police officer when women were uncommon in the field – she was the only woman at her academy and they didn’t have a dorm suitable for her – but she was a good, accomplished officer and a certified sharpshooter. Eventually she transitioned into HR at a major railroad, making quite a bit of money. Mom even wanted the best of both worlds, so she got married. She didn’t take my father’s surname, nor did she keep her own. She chose a new surname, one that she liked. 7 years into her marriage, she had a child, my older brother, who was born 3 months premature. Mom told me once that she was on the fence about abortion until she saw him. A career woman, she stayed at her job and my dad took care of my older brother. It wasn’t until I was born that she decided to leave her job. My mom was a feminist and a career woman.

I assure you, I made being a stay-at-home mom a heck of a lot harder for her. I also can assure you that she usually doesn’t regret her decision to leave the career behind. Raising tiny humans is much more rewarding.

Being a stay-at-home parent is genuinely difficult. Maybe you’re not one. I haven’t a clue. If you are and believe it’s easy, I’d contact the Vatican. You may want to start the cause for your child’s canonization early.

You say that being a stay-at-home mom is the easy way to go, “the path of least resistance.” Belittling the rearing of children, you ask “If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?”

Let’s see what’s the real path of least resistance. If most self-described feminists are as bitter and demeaning of motherhood as you are (they are), and feminism is ingrained on girls from childhood in this country (it is), is it easy or difficult for women to accept the prospect of motherhood?

From where I stand, teaching high school students (including teenage girls), the prospect of being a mother is terrifying. It’s certainly far from “doing nothing.” I think the majority of my female students would find “backpacking on her own through Asia, getting a promotion, or landing a dream job” comparatively easy. So it seems the lifestyle you idolize is, in fact, the path of least resistance. Any woman brainwashed with a marriage-and-motherhood-hating mindset like yours shows tremendous courage and great accomplishment in deciding to be a wife and mother. To choose others over self is probably the most difficult, life-long struggle any human can endure. Many men have failed. Certainly, many women have too. That’s not the path of least resistance.

Let’s talk about your claim to be a feminist. See, I consider myself a feminist, so let’s have at it. Have you considered that maybe women who aspire to have families – the women you lambaste in your tirade – are true feminists who want to be dignified in their womanhood instead of trying to find dignity by denying an essential aspect of womanhood and turning themselves into men? Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, crying out against motherhood actually hurts feminism? Do you realize that you’re making it harder for women to do something – something awesome, by the way – that only women can do? Without motherhood, without the ability to give life or the urge to nurture and to call forth the good in another, without the generosity so native to women, what would be left?

A body. A female body with a womb bereft of life and breasts that never nourished. To deny motherhood is to deny the soul of a woman. Turning women into nothing but a barren wasteland, convenient for the use of irresponsible men who share the selfish desires of the radical feminist. Gloria Steinem & Co. succeeded in doing one thing only: they laid a philosophy that made it easier for women to be degraded. You say you’re not sorry for sharing their radical feminist philosophy. You should be.

Most folks know that radical feminism is about hating men, but few realize it’s much more about hating women. Thanks for demonstrating it.

We decided to throw all those babies the birthday party radical feminists denied them. Where should we set the cake?

“So 500,000 of us decided to throw all those babies the birthday party radical feminists denied them. Where should we set the cake?”

Ah, feminism! When I address feminism with my students – and it usually comes up this time of year, what with the anniversary of the single most womanhood-desecrating injustice in our nation’s history – they express a very different feminism from you. Unfortunately, your view is so mainstream that they think it’s real feminism, rather than the counterfeit it is. I was expecting some pushback last year in class when I said I had to discuss the origins of contraception and birth control in radical feminism.

I told my students, “I have to talk about feminism for a moment.”

A whole section of female students in the middle of the classroom contorted their faces.

“Here it comes.” I thought, “Here come all the protests about a man addressing feminism.”

“What?” I asked, patiently.

“Do we have to talk about feminism?” One teenage girl replied. “We are so sick of feminism.”

I’ve never been more proud of my students. We discussed the nature of women, how God created them to do amazing things, their call to generous motherhood, the nature of love, and even nitty gritty details of raising babies. (Actually, this article was inspired by the conversation we had.) It was awesome. And you know what? They’re the feminists. The real feminists. You don’t deserve the title. You hate femininity. They love it. You don’t even deserve to be called a radical feminist, because being radical means getting back to roots, and women who get back to roots get back to their core identity, which is distinctly integral with the call to motherhood, which you deny. No, you’re a pseudo-feminist.

But I figure you’ll go on doing whatever it is you do – evidently, writing angry tirades against your old sorority sisters who lost their senses and decided to do what comes naturally. There’s not much I can do to stop you. As for us, my wife and I are going to keep growing our family, and that legacy will last long beyond your memories of a hike through Asia, your joy over a promotion, or your landing that dream job. Good luck getting your promotion to look after you in your old age.

I can say one thing, though: You may be looking down on women who want to be women – something you should be sorry for – but most of the feminists I know aren’t looking up to you. And I’m not sorry, either.

7 Comments

  1. They don’t pay you enough Micah. Truth!

  2. Jackie Vick /

    Thank you! I’ve long avoided the word feminist to describe myself, because it’s been hijacked by angry women who hate the feminine genius. Maybe I’ll dust the dirt off the title and reclaim it.

  3. I love this so much! Thank you for writing it! I, too, am an “authentic” feminist, as you call it. I love being a woman, a wife, and a mother. I loved my career before I had kids too, and honestly I was a pretty ambitious person who never thought I would want to leave the “working world” to raise kids. Now that I have, I can’t imagine a more rewarding (or challenging) career path. If feminism proclaims that women can be anything they want to be, then why can’t I be a mother without offending them?

    When I read the article you’re referencing here, at first I thought it must’ve been satire. It’s so absurd, it’s hard to believe that anyone actually feels that way.

  4. I read her article – I think she’s wrong and I get why you’re angry but I’m wondering if, as Catholic Christians, we can’t find a more charitable response? Mostly because Christ calls us to do this but also because extending charity to angry people is one of the most effective ways to change hearts and minds. I know – because I, too, was once an angry radical feminist who resented marriage and motherhood and viewed both vocations as forms of involuntary bondage forced upon women by the “patriarchy.” I had my reasons for coming to these erroneous conclusions and they mostly arose from personal experience – you see, my parents, though married, were not joined in Holy Matrimony with the grace that comes with a Sacramental Marriage. Their marriage was oppressive to my mother. My father was unkind and did not respect nor honor my mother’s vocation as wife and mother. He regularly demeaned and belittled her. It was painful to witness and to bear – for her, for me, and for my sisters. I didn’t want to wind up like my mother, so I embraced radical feminism in college because it seemed, at the time, like the only ideology that was forcefully asserting the equal dignity and worth of women. Of course, I had not yet read JPII’s apostolic letter to women nor was I aware of the Catholic Church’s long history of asserting & defending the true dignity of all women (i.e., Humanae Vitae). Now I know and I am grateful. I am no longer angry and no longer call myself a “feminist” because the term is too polarizing and burdened with too many different meanings. Nevertheless, I haven’t forgotten how hurt I was inside when I was an “angry” feminist and I can’t help but wonder if that same hurt doesn’t lie beneath the angry rhetoric of “feminists” like Amy Glass. If someone had just reached out to me in kindness, to speak the truth with love without the easy high of righteous anger and indignation, I might not have wasted so many years as an “angry” feminist. I stumbled onto the truth. I was lucky. The Catholic Church saved my life. But I was changed by a charitable and merciful Catholic witness – not an angry one.

    • Sarah,

      Thanks for your thoughts and testimony. My letter was meant neither as a real address to Amy Glass (I doubt she saw it) nor as an angry one. The intention was to be bluntly honest. I’m not angry over her words, nor am I personally offended by them. I was amazed at them, at what she was missing, and felt that a blunt reply was the only way to respond on the internet without appearing to water down the issue. It happens a lot that writing a response online in soft tones comes across quite differently from when one does so in a spoken conversation, nor do I have the means to establish deep bonds of friendship in order for a soft-toned conversation to have any effect.

      Still, I appreciate your critique.

      • gosh, I didn’t mean it as a critique, more of a friendly reminder or a plea, really to you, to me, to anyone who wants to effectively evangelize to non-believers, fallen-away Catholics, Protestants, etc… It’s so hard to be charitable to people who aren’t exactly charitable in return (or to begin with) – but it’s essential, I think, to try. That’s all I meant to convey, but I re-read my comments and see where I came off as harsh – I’m sorry. I guess I need to take my own advice!

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