August 14, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
As I said yesterday about Karen Rinaldi’s piece in the New York Times, her idea of “clarity” is her opting to view her chosen subject through a gender feminist lens rather than doing the hard work of a applying logic to facts and arriving at a sensible conclusion. Now, I say “hard” work, but in Rinaldi’s case, her work wouldn’t have been difficult at all, had she actually done it. That’s because her subject is motherhood and whether it’s a “sacrifice” as her mother said or “selfish” as Rinaldi prefers.
Of course, she could have just noted that motherhood can last the better part of a lifetime, so the chances of its being either altruistic or selfish but never both is remote. The facts of the matter are simple. Most women want to have children. They do so because their body’s biochemistry suggests they do so. Many women, once they’re mothers, find powerful and deep gratification and fulfillment from playing the part of mother to their kids. So indeed, there’s an element of selfishness to being a mother. Motherhood gives them what they want.
But no mother who’s done the job for long would say it’s not also a sacrifice. Dirty diapers and getting up multiple times in the wee hours simply aren’t anyone’s idea of fun. But adults understand that, in order to experience the joys of parenting you must do the unloved tasks of parenting.
Again, there’s nothing difficult about this. Rinaldi’s mother was wrong when she called being a mother “all sacrifice.” Rinaldi’s wrong when she argues to call it only selfishness.
But Rinaldi’s more than just wrong, she’s loony. Her gender feminism simply has no room for seeing things in a clear, simple light. For her, everything has to be distorted to fit the narrative of women’s victimization, even when doing so leads to absurd claims. Almost every sentence of Rinaldi’s piece positively oozes with misunderstanding.
A woman is expected to sacrifice her time, ambition and sense of self to a higher purpose, one more worthy than her own individual identity.
No, and no. First, who is it who’s doing this expecting Rinaldi refers to? She gives no hint. The idea that, here in the 21st century United States, society lashes women to the rock of motherhood is just flat wrong. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014, some 47.6% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 had never had a child. And yet no one is weeping bitter tears over the fact. Is there, generally speaking, a societal crisis of childless women? Do we read about same in the newspapers and online? Do politicians rail against it? No. That’s because no one seems to care whether women choose to have children or not. Sixty years ago, it might have been different, but not today. Rinaldi’s just making stuff up to fit her feminist narrative.
But more important is her crazy assumption that, in some way, a woman who becomes a mother loses her identity. Again, no. She takes on a different identity, part of which is ‘mother.’ The only way Rinaldi could make such a patently false statement is if she, along with countless other feminists, assumes that a woman’s “real” identity is that of employee. So if she has a child, she becomes an apostate, a mother, a woman without an identity. Nonsense.
When a woman becomes pregnant, she seems to become public property.
To that, I can only stare slack-jawed. No, actually she doesn’t. What Rinaldi seems to mean though is that, because society deems reproduction to be important, pregnant women become the targets of governmental interference, that she calls “an attempt to legislate women’s bodies.”
I’m going to guess that that means something. Trouble is, I can’t guess what. The simple fact is that women in the United States have some of the most far-reaching protections for abortion rights anywhere in the world. Efforts to nibble away at those protections are modest and routinely fail in courts of law. Beyond abortion, what can Rinaldi possibly mean? She never says.
These days, it seems that no feminist tract can be published without a reference to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood’s a competent writer and her novel does a fair job of placing the reader in a future hell on earth. The trouble is that people like Rinaldi take it to be some sort of prediction of the future or, worse, a description of today. It’s neither. The Handmaid’s Tale is no more sensible political commentary than the Götterdämmerung, but Rinaldi recruits it to her cause anway.
Written more than 30 years ago, Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” offers a cautionary tale of womanhood as sacrifice. In this dystopic novel, women are grouped according to the uses men determine for them: namely, sterile wives married for appearance or fertile “handmaids,” who are raped routinely for procreation.
The problem being that Rinaldi begins with one definition of “sacrifice” and ends with another altogether. When her mother called motherhood “all sacrifice,” she was referring to the intentional, voluntary behavior of a woman choosing to devote the time and energy required to be a proper parent. Atwood’s book involves no such thing. The entire concept of the book is that the women used for reproduction don’t do so of their own accord. If they did, it’d be a lot harder to call the book ‘dystopian.’
And therein lies Rinaldi’s problem. She either doesn’t understand the dual meaning of “sacrifice,” one being a voluntary act, the other involuntary (e.g. sacrificial lamb), or she doesn’t care. Either way, she gets motherhood wrong.
But the craziness doesn’t stop there.
More on that on Tuesday.
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