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Feminism. Abandonment. And Rebecca Walker.


Rebecca Walker, daughter of “The Color Purple” author Alice Walker, recently divulged her true feelings about her mother’s ardent feminism and their estranged relationship. I first read about it on The Ultraviolet Underground and Okayplayer.

In a column written for Great Britian’s The Mail, Walker talks about being abandoned and neglected by her mother who she labeled as selfish, seeing children as a burden, trapping women into subjugation. She essentially calls her mother a feminist fanatic, pushing the most extreme ends of the women’s rights movement.

Some have criticized Walker for “outing” her mother as a bad parent, accusing her of only doing it for her career, but I think what she did took a degree of courage. If she was truly raised with the ideology that children were a burden and internalized that she was an unwanted inconvenience to her mother that’s a tough load to carry psychologically.

It’s hard to go against your mother, especially when she’s more famous and better liked than you. Alice Walker is an icon in literary, black and feminist circles. Her story in some ways reminded me of Christina Crawford’s tell-all about her famous mother Joan Crawford. She was bashed for writing her book after her mother died and left her out of the will. They said she only wrote it because she was angry, like being cut out of will wasn’t reason enough alone to be furious.

You can debate Walker’s methodology, but the only people who really know what went on in her childhood were her mother, her father and herself, and I believe her sense of abandonment is real. A lot of black children are abandoned either physically or psychologically by their emotionally stunted parents. Abandonment happens every day. Black parents who think a “whoopin'” is the answer to everything. Black parents who look the other way when their latchkey kids engage in risky behavior. Black parents who just aren’t there. Fathers who split. Mothers who leave their kids to be raised by grandmothers.

Familial loyalty can only go so far in a damaged relationship and Rebecca and Alice Walker would have to have a damaged relationship for it come to this. My mother and I have our differences on things, but we have a healthy relationship. She deserves my loyalty because she gave me unconditional love and devotion. I don’t have anything to bitch about.

Rebecca apparently does.

Side note: The article is worth reading for her analysis of the extreme end of feminism alone. While I’m a feminist, I identify more with Rebecca views that the movement was about giving women options, not labeling all things related to “femininity” and “marriage” bad. My mother is an independent minded woman with a college degree who became a full-time stay-at-home mom. I don’t think she ever felt subjugated by my father. Their marriage was both retro and modern. My mother had options. That’s the point. Women can choose their destines, whether it be a career or motherhood.

Also, if all children were burdens no one would have any and that would be the end of all of us, so that logic is a fallacy. This is the real mythology of the movement, that women can “have it all.” We still don’t live in a fully egalitarian society. Having a family does involve concessions, usually on the woman’s behalf. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

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31 thoughts on “Feminism. Abandonment. And Rebecca Walker.

  1. I agree with you. While I’m a die-hard feminist, I would never label my children and marriage as a burden.If you feel that motherhood and marriage is a burden, why would you even subjugate those in your life to those feelings. You will only end up feeling bitter and trapped.

  2. I read this a while ago. It was very brave of her to write this considering her mother’s popularity and the disdain for parental critiques in our community. You know it’s true.I can’t believe that Alice Walker would write off her child and her grandchild. I don’t see her the same way anymore because of that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If she hates her mom so much why doesn’t she make a name for herself and stop using her moms name to advance her career. The only thing she is known for is her autobiography which no one would have read if Alice Walker wasn not her mother.Most women don’t go around living their live according to some text book feminism anyway, maybe only in Rebecca’s self absorbed world.

  4. Andrea says:

    I disagree with anonymous. Rebecca Walker owned her story. She can’t and could not pick and choose who her mother was. That is her story.I have bought several copies of Debbie Ford’s book, The Secret of the Shadow, The Power of Owning Your Whole Story and given it to Sistas (including my little sister). I find that so many people have stories but they don’t own them. They are revisionists covering for their parents to make themselves believe they have one relationship with their parents and family, when it is empirical not so as how they want to market it as.Black’s have been taught to not air their dirty laundry and they don’t realize the psychological shame. Nathan McCall wrote a chapter titled, Airing Dirty Laundry in one of his books. But still we read these expository takes by some author who has lived and conquered these tauntings to still not embed the practices in our mental health (public health) initiatives in the Black Community.Alice Walker needed to be outed in order to force her to heal herself and save her offspring. She was dominant like a torrent male who does the same thing to his family in via justification of greater journeys. There is no greater journey if your loved ones are caged, held hostage, and are hurting.I don’t know Rebecca Walker and I have stayed within an arms length of African American feminism as a movement because it was very self-absorbed eventhough it touted collective ideals. I don’t think that is her mantra. It has been however her burden in being inaccurately accused because she was raised into the realm of knowing this. I will not execute her for having courage eventhough it is not cookie cut and an Ebony magazine cover take on positive Black Life. She seems more authentic and trustworthy even with her scars and ‘isms and quirky behaviors. With her flaws she has made more inroads than most Black Women I know obsessed with absolving their parents’ flaws and failings.

  5. andrea: I concur. The pressure to remain silent on something like this has to have been immense. No matter how you want to get your fame, no child would write this unless they had a frayed relationship with their mother. Something is damaged. Something went wrong. And I think it’s OK for her to talk about it as her mother had already disengaged from her life, yet again, and is likely uninterested in resolving this issue.I’ve never been enamored with Alice Walker like some others. I’ve read her books, but she’s simply an author to me. I didn’t put much stock in who she was.And along with reminding me of Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter’s story, this also reminds me of Pablo Picasso’s daughter’s story. Her father was self-absorbed, treated her mother like garbage and neglected her. Yet she inherited everything when he died. She had all these conflicting emotions because to the world he was a genius. To her, he was a bastard. People didn’t want to hear that. It destroyed their fantasy. But artists tend to be difficult, often self-involved people. It appears that Walker was likely this way as well.

  6. It’s really too bad that it had to come to this. If in fact this was the way Rebecca was treated, then Alice Walker should be ashamed of herself and I’ll leave it at that.

  7. She took the Walker name to pimp, because it was the only thing of us that her mother could give her. I’ve said for awhile that Black women have no business buying into White feminism, because it was NEVER for ‘ US’, and never meant anything positive for ‘OUR FAMILIES’. I DO believe Alice Walker DID buy into it, and her daughter had to pay the price for that.Add into it, young Ms. Walker is also bi-racial, and that’s a component unto itself. She has a son now, and I would hope that in the act of being a mother, she could find some place of forgiveness for her own mother, because until she lifts it truly from her heart, she’ll not be able to heal. And, because, unless she totally and completely believes her mother is an evil person, there is something positive for her son to gain from a relationship with a grandparent. I’ve seen the most contentious of parent/child relationships have a neutral ground call the grandchild. There’s something about a grandchild for most people – not all, but most. But, I would hope that Ms. Walker could see that her son needs his grandmother, and she needs him, and that’s the gift she can give to all of them.

  8. Andrea says:

    Rikyrah,Again…your rationale splits my head down the center.Rebecca’s execution of “pimping” her mother’s name is in effect DIRECT ACTION to motivate her mother to one, recognize her and probably piss her off and two, to make her realize the sins of the father (mother). I didn’t read the book but I do know a thing or two, three, or four about inciting anger, dissidence, and the status quo in communities and in my own family.Why do people think exacting change is always going to be this philosophical two-step, air kiss dance of fantasy socialization? Sometimes we must incur the scars of civil wars to fight our own to make them — those — realize they are killing us softly and sometimes immensely brutal with their ability to have the dominant power as the heads of our family with untainted images and reputations while being the most vicious and cancerous. Families are held hostage to this pathological theatre. I would do the same thing in adopt my mother’s last name to paint her against the wall to notice me and that I cry inside. Unless you have the courage to confront the truths of what cards you have been dealt in your make-up, then you will continue to masquerade and camouflage the extremity of the pains. It still will manifest its ugliness but only then in anger to hurt one’s self, future relationships, and worse — children.Rebecca Walker has more courage than you know, Rikyrah. I need to take a pain killer now after thinking about more of your philosophic measure.

  9. Andrea says:

    “Never exalt people because they’re in your family; never exalt people because they’re your color; never exalt people because they’re your kinfolk. Exalt them because they’re worthy.”Louis Farrakhan

  10. texasladybird says:

    I know where Rebecca Walker is coming from.It wasn’t until I was able to confront my mother about the choices SHE made that affected ME that we could finally have a relationship.I told my mother she owed me an apology. Pretty bold for a black child, huh?But she did. She owned up to her mistakes and opened up about the details that led her to make those mistakes.Hopefully Rebecca and her mother can get to this point, but it wont be easy.

  11. It seems to me that Walker was not a nurturer and feminism had nothing to do with that.My guess is the answer to her strong feminism and inability to nurture lies somewhere in the way she was nurtured as a child (I sincerely believe parenting is a learned skill) and the failure of her marriage.I agree it is her daughter’s story to tell. I believe she tells it publicly because she has an audience and that it is a cry out and an attempt to heal from her loss.Many struggle with the pain unfufilled childhoods and seek ways to heal.

  12. Brave???Um, my mom and I have “problems”. I’m not sure that our relationship is such an oddity or that a public outing(!) is the best way to handle it either.More like my annual 10-day meditation retreats instead. Mom’s not going to change so, I have to “handle” it instead. These (Free) retreats have been a godsend.And, has Alice Walker’s response to the article been noted yet? Because most of these responses have been Rebecca-sided.Do you people really think that Rebecca’s made things better w Mom now? More like, Alice Walker’s publicist arranging a teary-eyed union, complete with video/photo opp. And the relationship changes little behind doors because Alice is so mortified that it’s going to be awhile before Alice comes back up for air.

  13. Sandra77 says:

    There are always 2 sides to a story. I’d be interested in hearing Alice Walker’s side. I’ve known someone who told a story like Walker’s daughter does, yet when I heard both sides, her mother didn’t seem as “evil” as when I had only heard her side of the story. It’ll be interesting to see whether she can use her experience to make a different life/relationship for herself and her child, or if her child one day will have the same story to tell.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering, and I know this is a bit off topic but; are Rebecca and Meshell Ndegeocello still together?Monie

  15. I would do the same thing in adopt my mother’s last name to paint her against the wall to notice me and that I cry inside. Unless you have the courage to confront the truths of what cards you have been dealt in your make-up, then you will continue to masquerade and camouflage the extremity of the pains. It still will manifest its ugliness but only then in anger to hurt one’s self, future relationships, and worse — children.Andrea,My rationale?I have a good girlfriend who hasn’t spoken to her mother in 15 years. I let it be because I understand she believes her mother to be a cancer, and she cut it out. Rebecca took her MOTHER’S NAME – to me that doesn’t seem like someone who wants to get away from her mother. She’s using her mother’s famous name to give herself a boost and credibility for her ‘career’. If she had published under her given name, would she have garnered any attention? She could have walked away from her mother and cut her out as my friend did her non-famous mother. People do it all the time with poisonous family members who aren’t famous. Playing out her drama for all the world to see…it’s sort of exhbitionist.

  16. I take issue with her blaming feminism for a generation of women being childless. I think that’s a huge exaggeration. Both white women and women of color have gotten knocked up during the feminist heyday and afterwards. Also, I take issue with her saying that feminism is an experiment. That’s a bit offensive. What if someone said that the Civil Rights Movement was an experiment? I know I would be pissed. I say these things, though, like Rikyrah, I don’t believe that “white feminism” works for black women, and, like Rebecca, I have issues with my mother as well. Anyway, Rebecca recently praised her mother on her blog at The Root. Click on the link below. http://blogs.theroot.com/blogs/seeds/archive/2008/05/20/making-sure.aspx

  17. Greetings!I read a post about Rebecca Walker a week ago on another blog and the discussion was about the book BABY LOVE.Rebecca is entitled to tell her life story but she does so with a cost and she has considered the costs and proceeded to share her life uncensored.I do not judge her for telling her story. From what I have read, there is a fractured relationship between mother and daughter. Perhaps other mothers and daughters will learn from Rebecca’s pain. I find it hard to believe that she would write her story in order to wound her mother.Parents who do not have strong relationships with their children are aware of the situation so I don’t think her mother was shocked to see her daughter’s story.I do wonder, though, why Rebecca changed her last name to her mother’s name, if she didn’t intend to be a writer later in life and knew it would benefit her.We all must live with our choices. Perhaps in a few years, another book will be written to record the restoration of the relationship between mother and daughter.Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!Lisa

  18. Is she serious??? says:

    The way I see it, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. On one hand, Rebecca castigates her mother for her behavior yet when discussing the child she co-parented with her lover she stated that while she loved him, she wouldn’t die for him. She would for her own child. The older son was lucky to have someone who would die for him.What an a**hole?How’s the older child supposed to feel? The woman he called mom during his formative years, loved him but not in THAT WAY. Can you imagine the book he’s going to write?If that’s how she truly felt, nothing is gained by her voicing it, just like nothing is gained by her airing her relationship with her mother. Is this supposed to be a step to heal the fractured relationship? Her mother wasn’t there for her. Cry me a river. If Rebecca wasn’t as self-absorbed as her mother, she would even on her worst day she led a charmed existence compared to some others.

  19. i see a lot of pain in that article, and i do not blame her at all for talking about it. i do take issue with some of the framing of the article, though frankly if i were in her situation, i might feel similarly. she clearly blames feminism for the way that her mother treated her. but when i read it, i thought maybe it wasn’t the fault of an ideology that her mother treated her the way she did; there are bad parents across the ideological spectrum. bad parents who are conservative, bad parents who are liberal, bad parents who are fascist, whatever.but it seems like for rebecca walker, feminism and her mother’s behavior are entwined in her mind, and therefore feminism is to blame for other bad parenting.i don’t agree with that perspective — i was raised by a feminist myself, and my mom was a great parent — but i can certainly see why she might feel the way she does.

  20. Andrea says:

    Rikyrah,You are so remedial and linear in understanding. I will not apologize for saying this because this affects the state of our (terminal and diminishing) mental health as a people. We are archaic in suits donning that we are superior in intelligence when we moderate our lives in accordance to lesser dysfunctional roles than the caveman did. We just can floss that we are esteemed because we know how to market hiding our pain. We know from the ways our Boomer Parents have raised us is if we “suck it up” then they would reward us with a bigger Big Wheel, a bigger and brand new version of the Barbie House, and they will buy us new games for our Atari. We are processed drones of placating symbiosis. We rather take easier routes than fight for love. How dare you shame and ridicule Rebecca Walker for having the temerity to withstand the embarrassment publically she knew she would already publically approach? Do you think she thought this was going to be a walk in the park and that the Black Public would approve of her exhibitions to air her dirty laundry that truly expose the greater denial that so many of us have on the same dirty ass drawers? I contest your supposition that Rebecca Walker is an opportunist. Rebecca Walker is a pioneer and not all pioneers rise to glory while they are alive because the remediation of intelligence don’t allow space for that query while people are alive pissing off the gatekeepers and their pleblian echo chamber (mains and minions). I am tired of the forced regression other place on fellow Blacks who are more socially mature and socially layered with dimensions to undertake the uneasy and unpopular choices to trailblaze new acts for new solutions. Actually what she is doing is not all that new…it’s just unpopular. The easiest remedy is to tell ourselves to walk-away and let it go. That is the COWARD(ly) approach. The LOVING approach is to TAKE IT THERE…to make the dominant controlling force have to take heed, submit, and then commit to loosening their dominance. The dominant member — the parent — the mother — has to relinquish her rule and power to offer equality in governing or their will never be a chance for the adult child to be heard or have a chance for a fair and equilateral platform. It is a RELATIONSHIP Rikyrah! You are supposed to try…try to save the relationship. and when you don’t have the dominant power, you MUST EXHIBIT PROWESS that will tip the hand and the stubborn sensibilities of the stalwart. SHE DOES NOT HAVE HER MOM! SHE IS EXHIBITING FROM A PLACE OF HURT. Why are we so linear in understanding that if we speak out against our family that it is a passion of hate? It could just be the passion of disappointment. It could be the passion of crying out that you want to love healthy. It could be that you are pulling the last cards that you have had to play. We tend to think that this was Rebecca’s first resort. I have no finite evidence but I do know in my gut and of experience in dealing with my mother and the EXBITIONS of my equally as rebellious friends who stood up to their mothers, we don’t go public first. That is the last call. And that takes years of painstaking inner turmoil and guilt to know you are going to be looked upon from your family and onlookers as the bad guy. It’s not cookie-cut, Rikyrah. It’s not all about pitching a writing career. She just HAPPENED to have a famous mother PROMOTING the exaltation of the Black Female when she in kind was not that kind to her daughter, another Black Female. Do you not consider how the mental stresses had to weigh on Rebecca to consider to remain in the shadows when others expect you to be LIKE YOUR MOM or carrying on the legacy of your mom. People would have chewed her up for not doing anything as much as they are chewing her up for doing something I think that actually does build on her mother’s legacy because it evolves the voice of the Walker women and it evolves in releasing the younger generations held hostage to collaborate on all of their mothers ideas which did not face democracitic measure. Rebecca is tyring to break-down the intimidating gang mentality her promoted as “don’t disrespect and embarrass your parents”. This group-think defense mechanism is what is killing Black Intelligentsia. We are formulated to eat and shit Political Correctness and niceties until we don’t know how to feel or analyze or call the shots on anything. We just know how to respond to the stimuli or fear of exposure of ourselves and our pains.From the position of Rebecca and where she was as the child, she was still the child as the adult she is…in a submissive role…even if she ranted quietly and privately. You put her and punish her to that role to by shaming her of her voice and shaming her of her authentic human feelings that she did not self-produce. Her mother bestowed that abandonment. Her mother gifted her that pain. That is what you wanted her to do…or rather…you wanted her, Rebecca, to further diminish her abandonment in a sacrificial act to further exalt her mother in the eyes of the public that only understand dysfunctional relationships carved out of agrarian mindset. Times have changed. We are more than oxen and human harvesting units to sustain the units of the family. For too long the Black Family has been operating on forced socializations and knitted accomodations to make sense and put a pretty face on what Black Parenting is when it has evolved and adapted. Well, not all of us has adapted. So with the idea of bolstering what you accord as an act of sacrificial render, you afford us the only choice to but to suck it up as a noble act of self-censure to allow our mothers to continue to live (some procreate) and look like they the righteous towers of unconditional love and spiritedness. Please!I know so many Black Women dying from the absence of their mothers’ love including myself. One works right her in my office. She doesn’t hide it. She talks about it with everyone…even those that don’t want to hear it or understand it because she came from such a middle-class environment of HAVES. People want Rebecca’s narrative to play out as if her mother was Claire Huxtable but most people don’t even reason that Claire Huxtable in a sitcom was never faced with such dramas in showing more than one-dimension of pristine advertisements of The Supermom. We fantasize that our mothers are like superheroic figures when they aren’t. I saw it with me and my peers and I saw in the women who parented my most middle-classed students. I see it with women now in college. We make excuses and the mothers say they did the best they could when the best they never attempted. Most Black Women I meet lie and over-compensate to hide their mothers’ inabilities to love them the ways they need. Some lie because they too uneducated about self and others are under-educated but riddled with shame. Many women learned how to think according to the basal campaign to deify the Black Woman until we have no space and no fundamental freedoms without repudiation to question and challenge ourselves. (I see why we are unfortunately dumbfounded on why our men (and our sons) hate us so and rather be with others. We make it impossible to be honest and adapt to the needs of who we are and what is going on and had gone on.)bell hooks even writes about this utilitarian way we live as family and how we will dress it up as if it is a spiritual age of enlightenmentto brainwash ourselves and trick the reality into redeeming us without us having to adapt or DO THE WORK required for our salvation. It’s a decline and our mothers’ signatures collectively are all over it. And we are accountable too when we cut the bar of measure so low to then take out ads with The Madison Avenue of our minds that our mothers and their mothers are those heroes.Your remedy sustains the dysfunctional archetypes by privying the mother as an exalted archetype immune to meritocratic scale. Mothering should be an evaluated role
    that must meet performance reviews and peer reviews of adaptation and evolution. When people take on the crusade of self-sacrifice for a mother’s reputation, it becomes not only their cross to bear but their shame. I had a friend I stopped talking to just because of this. Her mother made her sick and she took on the idea of self-sacrifice to absolve her mother when it then forced me to lie and accomodate their dysfunction. She was not mature enough and her mother knew she maintained that control, dominance, and intimidation in the name of boasting to others that she and her daughter had a healthy, loving relationship. My friends’ lovers and me, her closest friend, became casualities of having to play parts to enable their psycho-charade. It grappled those of us who cared for her because her mentalities fluctuated between what was authentically felt in pain and her performance to exonerate and excuse her mother’s obvious shortcomings and intentional hurts to wound her daughter in acts of jealousy and resentment of her hopefulness about life.I’m not biting my tongue like Skeptical Brotha’ asked me to do for you the last time. One has to walk on eggshells in agreement with your agrarian beliefs that I find empirically destructive.We cannot just “Leave it in the hands of the Lord” as my great-grandmother use to say of everything that was too complex for her to understand. It is unfair and it is proves that we as a people are not capable of social evolution on the Darwinian scale. We are cancelling ourselves out always wanting life to give us a break. Debbie Allen’s character in Fame use to say to her class, ” “You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat.” It’s the same analogy. If you want love…love from your family…well it’s going to cost…it’s going to require some work and it won’t all be easy…it will make you sweat…blood, sweat, and tears…if you really, really want it to be something. It costs. You have to pay some dues you never thought you should have to. You think that a parents love should be automatic and not a complication requiring rearrangement of your comfort, sanity, and spirit. There is no determing outcome of Rebecca’s pilgrimage to capture her mothers love. Maybe her mother never loved her and never would be able to. I and a lot of my friends have come to terms that that is where we are in the fair, unfairness of life. But we tried and we are people that understands Rebeccas conviction while she hurts everyday seeing a little headway and probably several setbacks in this journey.She is brave!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think the point is to challenge attitudes in the community AND gain a strand of healing for herself. Human relationships are complicated. Yes, it is natural that she would have some praise, some critique of her mother. Sadly, it seems there is a lot festering on the latter end of the spectrum. Our community is ripe with couch cases, a portion of which can be accredited to our upbringing (some more severe than others). Everyday I see young men excuse the behavior of their sexually promiscuous mothers only to readily transfer mistrust/ill treatment on the woman who gives birth to their child. The blame does not rest on fathers alone. You can’t say a bad word about momma, but it was she would laid down with that no good beep, beep, beep. But talking about these things is what white people do…

  22. Please please read “The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self,” by Alice Miller. (Much more readable than Miller’s better-known “Drama of the Gifted Child.”) Miller’s point is that we suffered emotional hurts as children and when we acknowledge these we can move on. It is NOT about blaming parents for our problems and wallowing in self-pity. It IS about facing honestly and courageously that a parent or caregiver hurt us in some deep way when we were young and that the past cannot be changed but the present can. It is also about the “helping witness(es)” who offered us refuge and helped us survive emotionally–a sibling, teacher, aunt, grandparent, the other parent, etc. (in my case my father and a caretaker “saw” me and give me the love and warmth I craved from my mother). I look forward to reading “The Secret Shadow” (thank you Andrea) which appears to have a similar, if not the same, theme.

  23. Anonymous says:

    “the fair, unfairness of life”thank you for this line, and many others that you’ve written. But this one…well, wow. Perfectly stated.I also agree with the idea that feminism isn’t about telling us how to be a woman or what IS/isn’t a woman. It’s SUPPOSED to be about us making our own choices. Those first generations though, they had to go so extreme, fight against so much, so many years of being told what is a woman, that they rebelled against the very idea that women may WANT to be mothers, wives, home makers. It is only after these great fights that we are able to see this. The pendulum must swing to both ends of the spectrum before we may settle down somewhere in the middle. There are casualties along all sides.I feel for the women who were told they would never amount to more than being a wife/mother and the women who see no value in those roles with the same amount of hurt.~LiLi

  24. I’m going to try and be diplomatic. When I read this I was enraged!!! Not, as some have argued in these comments because she’s telling her and her mother’s business. It is partly hers to tell and if this is cathartic I say do whatever it takes to make yourself whole. I fully believe in the sentiments bell hooks espouses in Talking Back (If you haven’t read it do so immediately!)My problem stems from her absolutely faulty critiques of feminism. I think that this one article sums up my fears about Rebecca Walker from the minute I discovered her work. Namely I think that she blames feminism for her relationship with her mother. That is so problematic for a variety of reasons but mostly because Alice Walker is a feminist NOT feminism itself. I agree with Danielle and Ms. Martin whole heartedly. It is a shame that this had to come out this way and if Alice treated Rebecca like that she should be more than ashamed. She should be heartbroken at her foolish actions! But my point, as Ms. Martin said, is that if Alice was not a nurturer that likely had nothing to do with feminism. If she did not want children then she should not have had them. And because she made a decision, seemingly contrary to her own wishes, she had absolutely not right to take that out on her daughter. But I would venture to say that Alice is the exception and not the rule. Herein lies my problem with this piece. How dare Rebecca make it sound, however faintly, that her mother was an example of feminist mothering. Every single one of my mentors is a feminist who loves, cares for, and deeply cherishes their children and their roles as mother. They also cherish their roles as academics and professional women. And as a Black womanist who will be a mother someday I look to these women of different races as my examples. Honestly if it hadn’t been for my discovering feminism I would have avoided children like the plague, fearing that I would raise daughters to be as stifled and inconsequential as I felt as a young child (a fate I strive every day to save my nieces from). And I would have feared that I would raise boys to be a disrespectful towards women and self-righteous as my brother and cousins were. And lastly I would fear that as Black children they would have periods of intense self-loathing because they weren’t pretty enough (because they were Black) or didn’t have good hair or all of those things that attack Black children’s psyches that many of my mother’s generation and those before could not name!Now I fear these things less and at least have names for these things which I think will only benefit my children. Most importantly I lose all respect for Rebecca for ignoring those serious exceptions to the story she paints here. What about those women who simply do not want children. They don’t figure into her equation I imagine because then she’d have to admit that for some women in this area of her life their problem has been solved. They don’t want children and they can be open and honest about that. These women, the vast majority of my friends would thank feminism for helping to provide a space for that to be their reality. These women are not ambvalent.And what about those women, like my mentors who have successfully maintained families and careers. They are not the women who missed out on their chances to have chlidren. So how would they fit into this construction?For me, it’s such a shame that in naming her demons Rebecca had to malign a treasured part of my personal awakening and I imagine that other women would feel the same.

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