Monday, June 01, 2009

Writing off mothers

Alan Howe is not exactly a supporter of stay-at-home mums. This is how he describes the era when most women were in their early 20s when they had children:

It used to be that your early 20s were an ideal time to have children. Newly married and generally expected to do little more than care for little nappy-clad economic stimulation packages, women's lives were often predetermined events.

They had "little more to do" than to care for their children. This is, obviously, a put-down of stay-at-home mothers.

Why would Alan Howe so undervalue the motherhood role of women? Perhaps, as someone imbued with commercial values, he believes that it's our participation in the economy which matters.

Or perhaps it's his commitment to liberal autonomy theory. His attachment to this theory is given away when he objects to women's lives being "predetermined events". According to liberal autonomy theory we are supposed to lead self-determined, rather than predetermined, lives. Motherhood fails this test as it's thought to be an unchosen "biological destiny" for women, in contrast to a self-chosen career path.

The problem for liberals like Howe is that marriage and motherhood continue to be central to women's lives. That's because autonomy is not the one good which outranks all other goods. Men and women still choose to marry and have kids even if this means giving up a certain amount of autonomy.

In other words, the fact that motherhood is "predetermined" doesn't make it any less significant in the lives of women.

There's a beautiful TV presenter in Australia called Suzie Wilks. She's sacrificed relationships for her career, but now says that she's been left feeling lonely and depressed.

If you read what she says, in an article about her quest for a husband and child, she portrays the motherhood role in much more significant terms than Alan Howe:

She says she hopes the relationship she has with her own children will mirror that with her beloved mum.

"We were best friends - incredibly close. All the love and support that I had came from her," she says. "I've never known a woman so capable of loving."

Wilks says she doesn't have any major career ambitions left. It is the prospect of love and having children that fire her these days.

"I've had to battle. Look where I've come from. Look what I've done," she says.

"Now I want the real things in life."

It's not just all about the economy. The love of mothers for their children matters - a great deal.

By the way, there's one other consequence of Alan Howe's prioritising of careers. He supports an increase in the retirement age not just from 65 to 67 but into the 70s:

The Rudd Government acted in last month's Budget ... just look at the publicity generated by the proposed incremental increase of the retiring age from 65 to 67.

Don't listen to the lies of politicians. That was just a start. Late baby boomers can put plans for retirement on the back burner.

Their pensionable age will start with a "7"

... we need to keep ourselves working productively for much longer than 65


  1. How unfortunate it is that feminism hasn't killed women's needs or wants to have children.

    Since feminism has not sufficed to kill the mother instinct, shall we have to sterilize baby girls at birth?

  2. "little more to do"

    Hah! This yahoo should give it a try. I'm a housewife ~ and there's far more then "little" to do with just one baby in this house!

    But I love it. I love every second of it ~ spending the day changing diapers and feeding the howling baby doesn't even phase a mother if her heart is in the right place. Babies grow so fast so we have to treasure these glorious months! When I look into those baby-eyes and hold my baby in my arms I receive all of the fulfillment that a woman could ever want! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could give me more joy then being a housewife with children!

  3. P.S. Later, after the baby is grown I can go and chase other things like college or whatever. Why is it that Feminists demand that women have to have all of these extra-familial things NOW? Why can't they behave like adults and wait until after the kids are grown? Life doesn't end at 29.

  4. "little more to do"

    Indeed, Coffee Catholic knows what she is talking about. I have a newborn and a toddler, and there are times when I fantasise about sticking my children in child care and having an easier life by pursuing a career. I wouldn't, of course, but anyone who thinks being a stay-at-home mother is the easy option is utterly deluded.

    I also noticed when registering the birth of my new baby that under 'occupation' one is given various examples, such as teacher, but the example for stay-at-home mothers is "home duties" - not housewife, stay-at-home mother, or homemaker.... I can only interpret this as a way of saying that being a stay-at-home mother isn't a proper job. A doctor is called a doctor; his occupation isn't described as "healing the sick" (as true as it might be) and it is given a name. The work of a mother is not. I suspect this is as much due to not knowing what to call it as political correctness, but it certainly illuminates the tension created by feminists who claim they are just as good mothers even though they hardly see their children. If I say my occupation is "mother", it implies that the mother who pursues her career is not a true mother... which is a valid argument. (By the way, I got around this problem with the registry office by baffling them with some Latin: materfamilias.)

  5. If children are only "economic stimulation packages", why doesn't this feral abacus support more of them?

  6. Kilroy has spotted just how unsustainable the liberal lifestyle is.

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  8. In the words of Cardinal Pell: "One mission is worth more than a thousand options."

    I'd rather be focussed predominantly on bringing up my children than trying to "discover myself" through a n endless round of "options."

    If children are just "economic stimulation packages" then so is this joker. Or can't he use logic?