Women’s oppression seems to be explicitly tied to women’s status as child bearers and society’s attempt to control female reproduction. This is abundantly clear both in the readings and the documentaries that we have seen throughout this course.
A common thread in our readings and documentaries that I see more generally is society’s intense pressure on women to reproduce in general. This is indicative of women’s firm status as child bearers. As a woman who plans to remain childless, I am under intense pressure from my family, even at 20 years old, to commit to reproduction.
Women are told by the society that they’ll never quite be happy without children—a myth that pressures women into having and keeping children they may not be ready for. And women who decide to remain childless by choice are vilified as a result. In 2009, a woman named Anne Kingston wrote an article entitled “The Case Against Having Kids”. As a result, she received hate-mail from readers calling her “selfish” and “anti-child”.
Even when women decide to reproduce, the society continually attempts to control that reproduction. A good example is Angela Davis’ piece “Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”. There is a rich discussion of how women realized that to achieve empowerment it was necessary for them to be able to control their level of reproduction because woman who has more children than she desires is anchored into a system where that is her worth. On the other side of that, the sterilization of women is an example of society’s attempt to control female reproduction so that “undesirable traits” couldn’t be passed down. And as Angela Davis points out, that has racist and classist implications.
In women’s case, the “cult of motherhood” is damaging and is a particularly painful hammer of sexist oppression.
The Case Against Having Kids: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/07/24/no-kids-no-grief/
The Response to “The Case Against Having Kids”: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/08/13/the-no-kids-debate-continues/
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