On being a woman


Not so chipper stuff ahead: check out this post about my workplace if you'd like yummy instead.

Over the weekend, I was watching a movie entitled "Hanging Up," starring Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, and Lisa Kudrow. I don't usually pick up this kind of movie. But my husband and I are trying to watch every single Meg Ryan movie out there so we can proudly say we've completed the MEGathon. Anyway, the three women play sisters who are each coping (in their own way) with their father's deteriorating condition. We learn that the father has never quite gotten over being left by his wife, which happened years and years ago. Over the years, he becomes belligerent, rude, and just downright nasty especially when he's drunk.

At one point, Meg Ryan decided to visit her mother to beg her to return home and make their family whole again. The mother's response was something to the tune of: "Everyone was having babies back then. I thought I would by happy too if I had a baby. If I got into motherhood. It turns out, I'm not that kind of person." And that struck me.

Rarely do we see movies that portray that kind of reality. Probably because it's painful. And most likely because it's true. I've met many women who have told me that motherhood isn't as amazing as society seems to portray it. There's the everyday mundaneness and repetitiveness of training a child. There's a lot of sacrifice.  There's a lot of noise, mess, and a lot of sleepless nights. I've met women who wished they waited until they had thought more about having children. I've met women who wished they could have had abortion as a legal option. I've met women who wished they had a choice.

I dread using the word "feminist" because it brings up a lot of awful connotations. I am a woman. Plain and simple.To be a woman means I do have choices. To be a woman means that I can pursue whatever dreams I have. I can go to university. I can open up a shop. I can read and watch whatever my heart desires. I can choose whom I marry (if I am so inclined to do so), and I can choose whether or not I want to be a mother. To be a woman means I am allowed to speak my thoughts. To be a woman means I can think for myself.

I am a woman. And I have a duty to afford those choices to every single woman now and in the future. 

21 comments:

  1. Wonderful, smart post.

    In the past, many women didn't have options when they unexpectedly got pregnant. And society romanticizes having children far beyond the reality. Growing up, I saw many moms who were obviously unhappy with their lives.

    When I was a teenager, I asked my mother what I thought was a rhetorical question: "If you could do it over again, would you have children?" I was sure she'd say yes. She said no. Ouch.

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  2. First of all, I kind of love your husband for being willing to go through a MEGathon. I can't even get Matt to go see Wreck it Ralph with me without holding it against me.

    Something that I feel like I want to just express because of your post and that you covered, "...and I can choose whether or not I want to be a mother." This is a huge thing to me because I have chosen not to be a mother. I did not want kids when I was still a kid myself and I do not want kids to this very day. I find other people, especially women with kids, give me a hard time about this. "You'll change your mind when you're older." No. I AM older. I didn't change my mind. I won't change my mind. And I don't know why for so many people my choice seems to be unacceptable. Ugh. /venting.

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  3. I think the interesting thing about bringing it up in a movie context is that the media hasn't caught up with this burgeoning group of women who are over 30 and don't have kids, for whatever reason. The portrayal I see most often is of a woman who just hasn't gotten her life together yet and is still looking for a man. There are no married women with no kids by choice or single women who just aren't into marriage or worse no lesbian couples who aren't interested in that traditional lifestyle. While I think it's a bad idea to form a sense of self from the media, I do think that having a portrayal of your own experience in the world that way is gratifying. I wish there were more active portrayals of women without kids for whatever reason and just more women making non-traditional, non-comfortable for society decisions. Whew that's a long comment. Thanks for writing this.

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  4. excellent topic laura! children require a lot of attention and nowadays it costs more money to raise them. i think some people get caught up in the glamour of it all, only to realize that once the child is here how much is required. it scathes me to hear about children being abused or neglected because the parent doesn't want to be bothered. it bothers me when children go hungry etc. the job of a parent is to also be a provider! there are so many that don't. people really need to think about that before getting pregnant. do you have a job? or does your spouse have a good job? how many children can we realistically afford. it's a LIFETIME commitment that shouldn't be taken lightly. i use to want children, but unless i have a husband who's committed for the long haul, i rather be childless.

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  5. This is a great post Laura! And I think it's refreshing that a movie be so honest in that way - it's not something you see all that much in Hollywood really.

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  6. I incredibly proudly self-identity as a righteously angry feminist (even a radical feminist on some issues) and so this really speaks to me. I think child bearing is something that is grossly romanticized in our society and just contributes to the biology as destiny line of arguments that are so often used to exclude women from full and meaningful social, economic, and political equality in our society.

    Courtney ~ http://sartorialsidelines.com

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  7. i love though provoking films, i would be terrified of having a kid such responsiblity :( but ure right we should have choices!

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  8. Laura, take a bow, my sweet! This is one hell of a post! Kudos to you for speaking your mind and reaffirming what womanhood is all about. If you think about it, ever since the suffrage movement, all women have been trying to achieve is freedom; pure, unadulterated freedom. To be able to exercise personal choice, that, in my humble opinion, is freedom. No societal constraints, pressure from family, friends or lovers, nothing. Motherhood--it means so many different things to all of us. I will honestly say that I love being a mother. If I had to go back in time, I'd do it all over again, but I'd do it because it's what I wanted, not because it was what was expected of me. Like you mention, motherhood is filled with sacrifices, pain, hurt, and going without. That said, I have the utmost respect for women who are childfree by choice. My hat comes off to them for the simple reason that they are responsible enough to say, "This isn't for me" and thus, make the conscious choice to not give up their careers, independence, or lifestyle. I so enjoyed reading this post, sister! Continue to be who you are, lady! :)

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  9. YES yes yes! To be a woman, to be ANY PERSON, is to have these choices. Everyone deserves to be able to use their mind and their life in the way they choose!

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  10. YES to everything, Laura. I can openly say and not be afraid that I'm not like some women in my circle. Get married and have kids. I don't think that's the only way to be a woman. I mean, about having kids. I do like kids but I don't think I'm ready for one. I don't think it's the unit of measure. That you're really a woman if you have kids. Do I even make some sense.

    I really enjoyed reading this post.

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  11. Great post, honey. That's lot to think about - and we both are in a lucky position to make choices for ourselves. Not every woman can say that. This is a perfect topic at the moment, because at least here in Finland there are a few campaigns now to better education and position of girls/women in places like Africa and such, where girls quite literally die due the lack of proper education. I'm trying to do my part for the campaigns, because I think girls all over the world shoul have a voice of their own. <3

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  12. great blog! i love it..!
    if you have time you can visit my blog..
    and i'll be happy if we'll follow each other ?

    http://cutemedpassion.blogspot.com

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  13. Thanks so much for writing about this, Laura! I do very much consider myself a feminist (I don't like how that word has so many negative or dismissive connotations to it) because I believe in equality and choice. If a woman chooses to be a mother (married or not), I support her. If a woman chooses to never have children (again, married or not), I support her too. I do hope that as we progress as a society (because we are progressing, right? Fingers crossed that uber-socially- conservative politicians stay as a minority), any choice a woman makes about her lifestyle and her body remains hers and society supports that.
    Right before I read this post I had just been reading Ashley's links that are 100% awesome and totally relate to this ;)
    http://ashleysheets.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/feminist-friday-17/

    Thanks, Laura!

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  14. What a great and different post from you. This brings up many topics and discussions. It's a horrible reality to know that there are so many children without parents, without food and most importantly the love from a mum. I do know many mothers who do not regret having children, and having their child is what indeed changed their life for the better, certainly there are many sacrifices and it takes dedication and work, etc. But, I also believe that if a woman doesn't want to have children that is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's her right to make that choice. Good post.

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  15. What a thoughtful post! I wonder how many women out there are like this character - not sure they'd go back and be a mother again, if they had the chance.

    I think about how close I was to being in that situation myself. I dated and was briefly engaged to a guy in my early 20's who basically wanted me to be a housewife and stay-at-home mom before I was even 25. When I finished college and couldn't find a job, he was thrilled, and that's when I decided he wasn't the man for me. I know that if I had gotten married and had kids then, I'd resent that life for all of the things I wouldn't have been able to experience. Now I'm getting married at 31, and we're talking about trying to start a family within the next couple of years, and I know that I'm ready and that it's something I really want. I had a hell of a fun time through my 20's, established a career and learned how to be independent of anyone else.

    That's all sort of off-topic, but just to say that I agree, I'm really glad that women have so many more options these days. You don't *have* to get married right out of high school and start having kids right away (my mom tells me that this is what most of her girlfriends did, and she herself was "old" for getting married at 24). You don't have to get married or have kids at all. We can have careers and lives independent of men if we want.

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  16. Hug! You make me proud to be a woman. Thank you for this.

    xo,
    Tracy

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  17. I totally agree with you. Sometimes I still wonder why some women don't want babies though. Not even playing with them. LOL Babies are too cute to be just stared at. Their cheeks are meant to be poked and pinched (lightly). LOL Oh by the way, the woman I was talking about is my sister who is now SUPER happy with my nephew, niece and their little cousin, Haley. She def had a change of heart.

    xo,
    janmloves.blogspot.com

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  18. I adore this post and could not agree with you more. I'm getting to the age when people constantly ask me if and when I'm having children (and getting married) and to be truthful I just don't think I'm cut out for babies -- I don't hate children but I'm impatient and still working on myself and if I was going to be a parent someday I would want to be the best possible parent I could be which I know I'm not capable of at the moment. I don't want to just have to "deal" with an accident and it drives me absolutely insane when people try to take away a woman's right to choose and have access to proper health care and birth control. I also find it very amusing that my fiance never gets asked when we're getting married or when we're having children, it is ALWAYS addressed at me like I should make the decision on my own or that my life is missing something without the ring or the baby. I try to see it as a good thing, they just want to be happy for me or something but can't help but let it get to me sometimes.

    Anyway, I love this post, thanks so much for making a post like this.

    <3Honeysuckelle

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  19. I have to agree with everyone else's comments, this is a very interesting topic you mention here. Its funny, I've never really been a "kids person" which is kind of scary for me. I've always pictured myself as getting married and having kids, but I still haven't really warmed up to kids yet. Its really weird too because I am very bubbly and childish myself, but somehow I find them kind of annoying (I know its wrong to say that, but most of the time that is what I feel.. what can I say). Your post is very refreshing, i loved it!

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  20. hear hear! Yeah... it seems women of our ages (of course we don't look older than 23!) want to be mothers.. i don't feel ready yet. You're completely right, there is a lot of sacrifice that goes with having a child! I am too selfish right now as horrible as it sounds. I think if I were to be a mother I'd like to put 100% into it, and not be a mum for the sake of it.

    I think I have seen that movie too, Meg Ryan does drama so well. I love all her old movies!

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  21. Thank you for putting this out there, Laura, and sharing what you feel. I agree with you 100%. Up until last year or so, I never thought about not having children. Now I've been giving motherhood second thoughts. I am not closing the door on it forever, but I am learning that it's okay if I decide it's not for me. Women have made great strides, that's certain, but biased societal (not to mention political and religious) views can still be very damaging to us.

    Here's to choice!

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your comments make my day. thanks! ♥