Friday, October 24, 2008

The one where I discuss politics and motherhood.

On a local online mothering group I am on the discussion turned to politics. (Specifically the prop here in California designed to change the CA constitution to read that only male / female marriage is valid.) Some felt that politics should be kept out of a group defined by our parenting practices, that having such discussions were not relevent to mothering and created divisiveness.

I would argue that motherhood and politics are inexorably intertwined and so should be discussed and chewed on in any group that takes raising children seriously. So I did some digging on the history of mothers in American politics and would like to share my thoughts.

From the suffragettes to our current Republican Vice President candidate the mixing of motherhood and political issues have been in the news. Some first-wave feminists argued that women deserved the right to vote because they were mothers raising future citizens and, as such, their voices needed to be heard. Recently Sarah Palin has been identifying herself as a "Hockey Mom" recognizing the huge political power in identifying with the "typical" mom.

Many mothers I have spoken, especially the ones on the far left of the political spectrum, site motherhood for their passion and activism on political issues. Just what issues lay heavy on the heart of mothers? For me personally many of my opinions are shaped more by my mothering experiences, and my children's futures than by my religious beliefs or what my party's stance on the issue is. I am passionate about peace and gun control due to thinking about my children being shot. Environmental issues weigh on me as I consider what kind of world my children will live in as adults. My passion for Universal Health Care, welfare reform and immigration reform are all a result of thinking of what I as a mother would do, if I had to live in poverty. In addition my opinions on the availability of medical choice and freedoms to eschew modern medical advice stem from my vaccination decisions I have made for my own children.

It would be impossible for me to separate my political identity from my identity as a mother, and so I feel politics and motherhood go hand in hand.


~ap said...

I have to say, I have always been a "greenie"-- recycling, eating well etc. But my consciousness around this , and my practices too, have shot thru the roof since my baby was born. Why? Because when I envision a destroyed world for my child to be an adult in, I am disconsolate. I cannot fathom her not being able to hike, swim, camp, travel, I do. I want her to have the beauty and the opportunities...

I could go on and on. And yes, on Prop 8 -- if she is gay, I want her to be able to love and marry and do whatever *I* can do, with the same rights. I can't imagine anyone with children not thinking through to that -- what if this was *my* baby? Everyone was someone's baby at one time -- makes a BIG difference when you think about it that way.

Anyhow, thank you for the post. I'm tearing up thinking about all the things I want for our kids, the next generation and the next. I just want it all to be *better*.

Starlene said...

I really like your blog. :-) You have lots of interesting topics you've posted on so far and, WOW! You and your family look gorgeous!! I can't believe Jess is already 4. I remember the first time I met you guys at Heather's and he was still a baby. Well, maybe more like a toddler but that's pretty much a baby in my eyes.

I look forward to hearing more from you.