Myths of M-Otherhood

It’s been a while since I last posted, as I have been hesitant to share my experiences of parenting as a radical feminist. Basically because I don’t want to risk be categorized as a “mommy blogger.” But everything I am exploring now about radical feminism is through the eyes of a person who has been m-othered (see what I did there?), and so it’s certainly relevant. Another reason is that I have been pressed for time, being a single disabled parent and all that entails. In this post I will talk about how these issues have both deepened my analysis of patriarchy and changed my relationship to radical feminism. In this post I will also begin using hyperlinks.

So to get right into it, I was flat-out lied to about motherhood. Here’s what I’ve been learning in the last 2.5 months:

1. Bonding with your new baby happens magically at the moment of birth as you get to know each other and heal from the trauma of birthing in a hospital.

2. When you have a child, nothing else in your life seems important anymore there is time for little else.

3. Love your desire to avoid imprisonment will get you through the hard times.

To elaborate: I had been wondering endlessly whether my shitty birth experience was the cause of my not feeling instantly bonded to my baby. To summarize, I was kicked out of the house, taken forcibly to a hospital, and pestered to the point of requiring drugs, all during the course of a 30 hour labor, when what I had hoped for and attempted to execute was an outdoor solo unassisted birth. I definitely still feel traumatized from the experience, and have almost completely blamed myself for things going other than planned, although coercion, both economic and physical, was present every step of the way. Now, particularly during times when I am thinking about what an awful place the world is, bonding still does not seem to be possible. Fear interrupts the process, because the body is signaled that it isn’t safe to let go of happenings in the outside world and to just focus on the baby. I honestly don’t know to what extent this can be ameliorated, considering global male dominance and my constant awareness of it. Basically, I feel like I would have to lie to myself in order to bond with the baby, and that doesn’t feel too smart. I already feel like I have had to lie to the baby by even having welcomed her into this sick, cruel world. This pisses me the fuck off, more than almost any other violation I have experienced at the hands of men. It’s almost too much to think about, because of how disappointed I am with the whole thing, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Only just earlier today, I read FCM’s series on intercourse, and in one of the comments it is pointed out that mother-child bonding is an experience exaggerated and twisted by males to guilt women into motherhood on men’s terms. The assumption of Mother-Child Bonding as some ultimate, supreme, essential connection sets women up to prioritize their children above all else, which evolutionarily speaking, doesn’t make sense. A child can not survive without the mother, but the reverse is not true. In the event of an emergency, affix your oxygen mask first, then the child’s. Etc. My point being, it is seen as a sign of neglect and even sociopathy when a mother does not make their child the central and sole focus of her life, because womb with legs, but I really and truly feel that reading radical feminist blogs and making lesbian separatist community is more important than reading some asinine male-authored book on childrearing (to give an example of the kind of things other people think I should be doing with my time besides, for example, writing this blog post).

Which brings me to the pressed-for-time issue. My confession is that sometimes I am reading radical feminist blogs while my child is fully awake and gurgling, when I could choose to stare and make googly eyes at her instead. And sometimes I am writing a blog, but really paying more attention to her, which is what made my last post a bit lacking in the completely-formed-original-idea-with-interesting-conclusions-drawn department. It is just more difficult to follow your thoughts to their very end, and to speculate as endlessly as is desirable, when a child is literally thought-stopping you with their cries and needs. This at first embarrassed me, although I was glad later to see that the post sparked a commenter to ask me questions which made me feel useful. I am thus coming to terms with being whatever kind of radical feminist I am best positioned to be, which is both necessary and liberating. So here I am, juggling an active presence in the psychic world of online radical feminism and a role in the physical realm as a mother. Of course, I won’t undermine men’s intention to busy and isolate women with childrearing to the extent they don’t have time or space to talk to other women about the state of Things, nor will I minimize my dislike of this manufactured scarcity of both time and space. And while being a single disabled mother isn’t really “myself,” since it is an imposed situation, but it most definitely IS. At the risk of misogynistically “putting myself in my place,” I think each of us does have a place in radical feminism, which can most accurately and succinctly be described as “just being ourselves.” I mean really, haven’t we all “worked” enough in our lives? So I’m not going to bust my ass to accomplish anything radically feminist, unless there is something I really want to do, for ME and women I actually personally care about, and it can be done playfully and in harmony with my other interests and responsibilities.

It really does feel like I am passing between two worlds, writing, reading and then tending to child. I so wish I could bring her with me to the internet, it’s so much nicer here. But we share consciousness on a plane that computers can’t capture, and by that I do not mean that it is deeper than radical feminist connection, just that she can’t type or read. I enjoy parenting while feeling connected to other radical feminists, it is how I draw my strength. But I do feel as though I am plugged into the matrix, with whoever is my internet provider sucking up my precious energy to power the machine, and it being only a matter of time before my daughter plugs in, too. That said, I am fully prepared to parent her without the refuge of the internet, not only because it might fail someday but also because she deserves my full attention, and so does my own life. So I relate to my daughter upon the foundational assumption that she is too precious for this world, at least for what it has become. And that feels both authentic and loving. It is the appropriate attitude towards a child who may comprise the last generation of humans on a planet that is being raped and murdered before our very eyes, and who will surely witness and face tremendous upsets in resource availability, but who is still capable of experiencing and sharing joy in life’s less brutal moments.

I did anticipate my emotional and temporal resources would be strained, as both a newly radicalized feminist lesbian separatist and new mother. It was less than a year ago that I woke up in my camp on the side of the railroad tracks next to a bush and realized that everything I had ever thought of as being “God’s will” in my life, had in fact been the will of men. The next morning I woke up craving pickles. Despite being strongly advised by a couple of radical feminists I spoke with to have an abortion (“for the sake of the baby” being one of the more dignified arguments), I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to do it or not. I actually went to get an abortion, and backed out of it because I felt that something inside of me wanted to live. I couldn’t tell if it was me or the baby, so I did nothing, and that’s why I’m now a mom. And I went into this knowing that the Earth’s resources are already strained by humans (males), and that mine would likely be as well, but not willing to miss out on this wonderful experience of motherhood I had heard so much about. It was very selfish of me and I probably wouldn’t have done it if I had been better educated about the politics of abortion and reassured of the possibilities I would soon find to develop friendships with women.

I had already left my abusive, tweaker boyfriend a month earlier, having told him I was now a lesbian and no longer interested in his bizarre, noir-esque tweaker melodramas. I spent the next eight months alternately devouring everything radical feminist I could find on the internet, and looking for a suitable place to carry out my elaborately primitive birth plan. I knew my time was limited, and I was racing to build real-life radical feminist community before I had the baby (and what a beautiful fantasy it was!). So, you see, all of this has happened rather quickly. And now here I am, raising a child while trying desperately to make friends, and I don’t mind admitting to desperation because I am only interested in making friends with women who are as desperate as I am to connect with other women, as women, in a world gone completely mad, or male, I guess would be more accurate. I feel pretty conflicted a lot of the time. I have never once regretted my decision to become a mother (as much as we can say that there was actually a decision for me to make), but I do sometimes resent the time and energy I have to spend on a person who can, and should, give nothing back, when what I need most is sisterhood on an equal basis, or often, sleep. And I’d be lying if I said I did every second of the day what I do as a mother out of love. There simply isn’t anyone else around to pick up the slack, so I do things for my daughter even when I don’t want to.

My dream and goal at this point is to have a radical feminist and separatist commune, where I can raise my child with other women who have female children, and with other women who we can rope in to pick up the slack. I want us to be able to see the stars at night, to hear a river flowing, breathe fresh, cool air and maybe look out and up to a mountain in the distance. I want us to write our own songs, and sing them for each other. I want us to do nothing at all, and to luxuriate in each other’s company. It is unclear to me now whether and how much the internet will play a role in assembling this community. I tend to overmanage things like this which are better left to develop organically, and alternately, undermanage projects having vaguely surrendered them “to the Goddess,” so hopefully I’ll be receiving some guidance soon as to how to effectively and gracefully participate in the creative process. Ideally, this will leave me with plenty of time to both idle away with my little one, and to socialize plenty with women, and hopefully this project will grow naturally out of these activities. In my experience, the good things in life can’t be rushed or forced, or they will be lost.

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10 thoughts on “Myths of M-Otherhood”

  1. terribly sorry to be late, but this is a wonderful post. i’m the disabled daughter of a single disabled mother and just wanted you to know if you feel comfortable asking for advice or words of support, i’m more than happy to do that for you. (btw, the phrase “imposed situation” blew my mind a little bit–i always felt cheated when i was told my disabled, isolated life WAS my real life, but i could never verbalize why. thank you for your compassionate insight). i hope you and your little family are doing well. you are a very brave and thoughtful woman.

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  2. wow! wonderful piece that I think all women can relate to. I never considered motherhood an option b/c of what lay in store for single moms…I was terrified out of motherhood and for good reason. Thanks for sharing your brilliant thoughts and experiences! My gratitude and good will goes out to You.

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  3. This piece is very well-balanced which is almost unheard of for such a controversial topic. If women weren’t forced into heterosexuality they would have complete control over whether they got pregnant or not–abortion would be largely unneeded–heh, we should try that argument on the pro-lifers. And if we weren’t slaves to industry and capitalism a women could be a mother without spending most of every day for eighteen years of her life on someone else.
    I am largely against motherhood as it is, but for the sake of children; society puts so much pressure, shaming, and guilt tripping on children to be a certain way and mothers are the vanguards of this. But in terms of what motherhood means for and does to the mothers I think this piece is a wonderful addition to radical feminist politics.

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  4. Motherhood doesn’t seem very logical for me since I can hardly deal with this world myself. The thought of my child being harmed, which she likely would be as long as patriarchy exists, would send me over the edge! However, I’ve always wanted a little girl, and ONLY a girl. But sadly there is the risk of it being a boy, and I’m not about to poison this world further by bringing another male into it. If I were to ever become pregnant, I will only have a daughter. I’m not ashamed to admit that if the fetus turned out to be male, I would terminate. Better the incomplete male fetus than a fully developed and functional human female. It’s pretty obvious by the state this world is in that the less males, the better.

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    1. Much better. Thanks for asking 🙂 I feel happy to be a mom now and glad to have survived the ppd. Of course it’s horrifying raising a female child in this world – I’ll write a post about it if I ever have time. Also I have extreme sugar sensitivity and couldn’t handle the depression that comes with withdrawals. I started taking Prozac, which helps a lot. I never thought I would embrace any aspect of male medicine, and I still have reservations about it, but it’s the best solution I’ve found to the male-created problem of sugar addiction. I’m too busy, tired and poor to avoid it in every meal, although before I had a kid that worked amazingly well for me – even better. It is so weird to be letting males manipulate my brain chemistry! I feel plugged in to the patriarchy in a creepy sci-if way. Another good topic for a post when/if I ever have time…

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      1. I know how that feels … finally gave in and decided to take antidepressants myself. It feels like my emotions are numbed. Good thing I don’t need to be actually angry at patriarchy to be a feminist, knowing that I should be angry is enough most of the time.

        Raising a female child in this world may be like planting a tree in the desert – it is not good for the tree, but with enough trees, eventually the desert will become a forest. It’s just that you have to put much energy into the child to make her strong enough to survive … just like you would have to water a tree in the desert.

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      2. True raising a girl in this world is harder because of all the horrible things that she could become a victim of someday, but it’s still better than bringing another male into the world. No matter how you raise a boy to respect women, the automatic privilege he receives from society just for being male will eventually turn him into another monster who preys on women. Really, I would rather be the mother of a rape victim than a rapist. But if it was entirely up to me, though, neither rapists or victims of rape would exist. I guess we can dream.

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