Written by Gerry T. Neal on May 10, 2009.
A country’s holidays are an important part of its culture and identity. They commemorate important events, people, and things. The two most important holidays in the Christian calendar have historically been Christmas and Easter, commemorating respectively the birth and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These remain important to this day, although in the new calendar of secularism Christmas has become the Great Feast of corporate consumerism presided over by Santa Claus, and Easter now commemorates the resurrection of the Easter Bunny who died to bring us chocolate eggs.
Mother’s Day, at least as celebrated in North America, is a more recent holiday. It started in the United States in the early 20th Century and has been picked up in Canada and several other countries around the world. It too has become highly commercialized. Despite its recent origins that which it honors and celebrates has been honored and celebrated in every culture around the world from time immemorial – and rightly so.
Mother’s Day commemorates mothers and motherhood – the women who carried us, gave birth to us, nursed us, and watched over, trained, and cared for – in short mothered us, as we grew up. Everybody has a mother – even the Son of God. Without mothers and motherhood no society could survive beyond the present generation. The human species itself could not survive without mothers.
Motherhood, is by far the most important calling a woman could ever have. It used to be we didn’t shy from saying that. We do nowadays largely because of a small group of highly vocal ideologues who have been attacking wives, mothers, motherhood and femininity for the last 50 years. These fanatics call themselves “feminists”.
To say that motherhood is the highest calling of women is not remotely the same thing as saying that woman’s place ranks lower than that of men or that other things women may do are not important in and of themselves. That is what the feminist hears in such a remark but that is only because of her warped perspective.
In a healthy, functioning society women bring up their daughters to be women, and at some point men take over the training of their sons, who they train to be men. That is the common sense, practical, rational, and traditional way of doing things. Men, in training their sons, do not teach them to wish they were girls or to envy a woman’s position. Similarly women, in bringing up their daughters right, do not teach them to wish they were boys or to envy a man’s position. Both sexes, if properly raised, are taught a respect for the other sex – a respect mingled, ordinarily, with a healthy degree of contempt for their ways
A man, properly brought up, holds women in the highest esteem – but considers their ways to be beneath him. A woman, properly brought up, feels the same way about a man. Man looks at the bearing and raising of children, and thinks “That’s all fine and good for women, but how can it compare in importance to what I do – the building, maintaining, and advancing of great civilizations?” Woman, in response, smirks at man’s self-importance because she knows that the building and leveling of cities is beneath her. How could any of that compare in importance to bringing a new life into the world, nurturing it, and caring for it?
Which of the two is right? Why both are of course! Every society, and the species as a whole, needs a next generation. Only mothers can provide this, and so motherhood is essential to society in way which can be said of nothing man does . On the other hand, the contributions men have made and continue to make to civilization are what make it something worth passing on to a next generation in the first place.
God and nature have made us in such a way that our lives begin within the bodies of women, grow there for about 9 months, and following birth remain dependent upon the body of the mother for nourishment for some time. Motherhood, encompasses a heck of a lot more than just that biological minimum, but that biological minimum is such, that only a woman can fill the role of mother. Since motherhood is absolutely necessary, and since only woman can be mothers, it follows that for women as a group nothing else they do can possibly be more important. Likewise, since men cannot be mothers, it follows that for men, the things they do will be more important than the bearing and raising of children.
The woman’s point of view is absolutely correct – for women.
The man’s point of view is absolutely correct – for men.
What is wrong, is the feminist point of view that tells women that they should take the man’s point of view and value the bearing and raising of children less than the building and leveling of civilizations, contributions to medicine, law, science, literature, and thought, or even menial labor for a minimum wage.
This nutty way of looking at things, began like so many other wrong-headed movements, in the 1960’s. True, its basic concepts go back further than that, finding their source in the writings of 18th and 19th Century leftists like Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. An important founding text of feminism, The Second Sex by Jean Paul Sartre’s much-abused consort Simone de Beauvoir first appeared in 1949. But the movement itself began with the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963, and the establishment of the National Organization of Women 3 years later.
This movement, contrary to its claims for itself, had nothing to do with the women’s movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which achieved, among other things, the right of women to vote. In addition to securing property and voting rights for women, these movements fought, in an age when industrializing was moving work off the farms and into factories in large urban centers, for a “family wage”, i.e., a wage large enough for a man to support his wife and children on a single income. These women’s movements alliance with the industrialists in the cause of prohibition was correlated to the family wage – they wanted to be sure the men brought that income home instead of spending it in the bars.
Now one might not necessarily agree with all of the reforms these movements sought, or at least their pursuit through political means, but these women were no feminists. These movements were filled with Christian women and their leaders honored the things that feminism attacked - marriage, family, and motherhood.
Feminism did not arise in countries where women were really oppressed by cruel practices like clitoridectomy or infibulation. It did not arise in countries under Islamic law where women had no rights whatsoever. Feminism began at a time and in a part of the world where women had the right to vote and own property, had long had the opportunity for a full education, were free to work for pay outside the home, and had the right to decide who and when they would marry. It was in such a country, at such a time, that Betty Friedan claimed that women were being oppressed by TV commercials, stories and ads in women’s magazines, and classes in schools and universities, which presented a glorified vision of the happy housewife/mother as part of a government conspiracy to get women to return home so the jobs they had filled during WWII could go to the returning soldiers. As a result, Friedan argued, women were turning to drugs and alcohol in record numbers, as they found their education and talents going to waste. The only solution was for women to put their own self-fulfillment as individuals ahead of everything else, and the way to do that was through a glamorous, paid career.
Ironically, by the end of the 60’s Friedan was beginning to look moderate in her views. Even more radical versions of feminism arose, as the female adherents of black power groups, anti-Vietnam war groups, student radicals, and other leftist movements of the time, grew sick of being treated poorly by the male revolutionaries and struck out on their own. Some promoted lesbianism as the ideal lifestyle for the “liberated” woman, others argued that rape was not a crime by individual men against individual women but a means by which men as a class oppress women as a class (Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Wills) or even that all heterosexual intercourse was demeaning to women and would be as long as power was unevenly divided between the sexes (Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse). And this was before things really got crazy in the 90’s!
Needless to say these radicals were no friendlier to motherhood than Friedan. Friedan, tried to distance herself from the radicals and present her version of feminism as more family-friendly (this was what The Second Stage was all about) but do not be deceived. The feminist movement, while Friedan was its acknowledged leader, made as its agenda the legalization and subsidization of abortion, and state provided daycare centers to free up mothers of young children to pursue careers. It promoted the sexual revolution, promiscuity, and no-fault divorce. It promoted the world Aldous Huxley described in Brave New World as its vision for the future.
The fight between feminism and the traditional family and social order was never about such trivial things as jobs, salaries, and household chores. Economic arrangements change. What men and women do in a hunting/gathering tribal economy will widely differ from what they do in a primarily agricultural economy, which will again widely differ from what they do in an industrialized economy. In the latter kind of economy – such as ours – a great variety of jobs are open to men and women alike. These kind of arrangements come and go. The family, the basic building block of society in which man and women come together to raise their children, is a permanent thing. Motherhood is – as long as mankind lasts – a permanent thing.
Despite its presentation of itself as being the movement for women’s choice, feminism is against women’s choice. For as long as women keep choosing to have children and raise them themselves instead of trusting them over to a cold, state institution, and keep choosing careers that will assist them in their choice – part time jobs, jobs close to home and school, or jobs after the children are born and in school – feminism’s goal of a world where women and men are equally represented at every level in every career in every field can never happen. It is these choices made by women that create the so-called “wage gap” (in which women’s wages are represented as a percentage of men’s). The gap disappears when never-married women and men of the same age and same career are compared.
The reason feminism can never truly win is because women will never stop choosing to be wives and mothers. They know, even many who will not verbalize it, that motherhood is the highest calling they or any other woman could ever aspire to. They know this, not because of some conspiracy among all males to keep them in second-class status by deceiving them into valuing motherhood over careers. They know this because it is in their hearts and natures and they cannot help it. It is to women such as these that I say:
Happy Mothers’ Day.