Instead traditional feminism has always focused on white middle-class needs. Traditional values fall to recognize how women’s different identities such as race, class, and sexuality shape our views and beliefs about family and motherhood. Many believe that shared social issues such as women rights bring women together, but what many do not see are the different Identities such as class, race, and sexuality within gender, that can cause conflicting views. The quote above by Joan Williams Is a testament In understanding how these deferent identities within women can become a delving factor In their beliefs.
Specifically women’s beliefs and roles In the family are Influenced by their Individual Identities. These Intersections of identities play an important role in women’s beliefs on motherhood. Through the course readings I will show how the notions of motherhood changes through these different identities. Women’s participation in the labor, education, domestic duties as well as views on marital status and child rearing will show the division within women’s notions of motherhood. America underwent a change in 1945 that had never been seen before.
Despite representation there was a conflict from WI in the ass’. There was a shift from reduction to consumption, where America was seen as ‘living the good life’. By 1960 America’s Income had Increased, and by the end of the decade Americans were moving up In prosperity. What history falls to acknowledge are the women who feel disorientated and discontent. The ass’s and ass’s was also a time filled with anxiety and alienation. As Betty Friedman puts it there was a vague uneasiness’ that is the mark of this period. The sass’s was an odd period of time, where many social issues were taking place.
Nevertheless women continued to enter the labor force, which suggested the growing antinomy for women after the war. In the 1 ass’s as Friedman suggest people were politically and culturally conservative, particularly regarding gender and family issues, which made exploring new opportunities difficult for women due to restrictive gender norms. Through the lives of middle-class white women Friedman uses labor force participation to show their beliefs of motherhood. The role of a housewife to some may seem simple, as If they have nothing to do but to take care of the children and domestic duties.
But what many fall to see are that these women are well educated and hold traditional ideologies of the family in which women sacrifice ones fulfillment ender role expectations. Women’s behaviors and beliefs were in relation to men, which created a lack of fulfillment amongst women. Friedman argues these housewives needed competition and should make contributions to society. Friedman’s argues that middle-class white women needed to find something fulfilling in society to feel a since of purpose. To get away of what society tells them to do, and start living for what they would want to do.
Surprisingly women’s actions did not reflect their beliefs. Though these women were educated enough to have careers but, many found it best eatable to become a housewife because it was the gender norm for women to stay at home and be the caregivers while men should become the breadwinners outside the home. These beliefs countered women’s fulfillment as a woman but filled their beliefs on motherhood. Friedman titles masculine ideologies of motherhood that creates feelings of emptiness as ‘The Feminine Mystique’. Its overpowering, hegemonic dynamic in the work place and in the homes, where men carry the power enforce gender roles.
These women adopt the Feminine Mystique, for the purposes of appeasing to societies expectations, but Friedman clearly shows how the traditional views of others are not holding strong in these women’s beliefs. Women were becoming board and tired of being a housewife. This shows the view of motherhood for these women would be to have a more active part in the community, take care of the domestic duties and fulfill the husbands needs but their fear of going against men’s ideologies of motherhood keeps them confined.
The intersecting identities of class, education status and gender played a role in how these women view their roles in the family. Becoming a stay at home mom may have not always been by choice but by sacrifice. Gender roles have proven to be influential on women’s beliefs on others. Despite Friedman pushing for women to become contributing factors in society, Bart Laundry in “Black Working Wives” offers a counterpoint to the norms of white middle- class families. Black women are usually excluded from white framework of motherhood.
He incorporates race unlike Friedman as a contributing identity that shapes black middle-class women’s notions of motherhood. Participants were black middle-class two parent families. The black women in these families took care of domestic duties, cared for the children and had an active part in the community, which allowed black women more freedom. Black women in most cases did not have the option of staying home. They pursued careers outside the home because they believed a true woman’ could do both. The notion of mother hood was achievement in both public and private spears.
The black community held a different standard then their white counterparts. The black community appreciated women’s intelligence and their independence. Women’s in Friedman’s book looked to their husbands for the decision making rather then formatting and expressing their own views. There is a big divide in how women in Friedman’s reading and Landers book viewed womanhood partially due to the racial preference and also because of class. For white families you could be middle-class solely on the husband’s income.
Black families did not share the same experience, to Laundry challenges domesticity as she focuses on African American women. Looking at black families we can see a transition of the traditional family to a more radical modern family. The male ideologies of motherhood were also different as unlike there white counterparts black husbands had the expectation for their wife’s to work outside of the home, which allowed black women to become more active in the community. The egalitarian mindset of black families combined the public and irate spear.
Working outside of the home gave black women more respect inside of the home. Race has played a significant difference in expectations of working wives. Black women did more because there family needed both incomes to be middle class. They face more criticism in the work place and carry the burden of isolation from the male counterparts coming home from an oppressed workplace. On the other hand white women stayed at home because they had stronger beliefs in ideologies. Catering to the household and their husbands were put over their own needs.
Women in both readings lacked fulfillment. Men shared unequal responsibilities in doing housework, which is an issue that has been solved. The power dynamic of who is responsible for the domestic duties, stems from male ideologies. Men in both readings are the primary breadwinners therefore lack the obligating in helping with domestic duties. Friedman and Laundry take on two different perspectives on motherhood. While Friedman is pushing women to become active contributors in their communities Laundry is showing how black women have been working for year to support their families.
Here we can see how identities such as class and race can create a division amongst gender and also shape beliefs on motherhood. Women who participate in labor both inside and outside of the home have contradicting beliefs on motherhood. In Mary Blair-Loss book “Competing Devotions” she looks at how women in both spears view labor and family schemas. Work devoted women in the reading were well education and help high power position Jobs. They worked full time which became time demanding and had to sacrifice their extracurricular time for work. They felt their Job was important and more like dynamic work.
Women wanted to become more economically independent from men UT at the same time their high-end Jobs meant working long hours, which left them tired and facing discrimination from male dominance in the work place. Women felt that they were providing a better life for themselves and their children. Their beliefs of motherhood was not to fulfill domestic duties like cleaning and cooking every day but to provide the economic needs for their children so they would always have what they needed. The family devoted women sought marriage and child rearing as their primary devotion.
Some women worked part time but still took care of the domestic duties. Families believed their roles to be biologically destined, where men should work full time outside the home. Family devoted mother criticized work devoted mother for not spending more time with their family and work devoted women criticized stay at home mothers by saying they are lacking fulfillment and depended on men. Like the women in Friedman’s reading these women held a more traditional view of womanhood. Like all mothers both schemas came with their sacrifices, which they people for support and shunned the opposite schema.
The notions of motherhood aligned with the schema these women adopted. It is interesting to see the role education played in choosing which schema to adopt. Women’s views on motherhood relied not only schemas but also their beliefs on marriage. Kathleen Eden and Andrew Cheering search to find the problems as to why low income white and black single mothers are not getting married. The study finds five reasons to why women are reluctant to enter or reenter into a marriage. The same five reasons are also how they define womanhood.
Women sought having children before marriage fulfilling, but did not count on being single. Women saw affordability, respectability, control, trust and domestic violence as important measures when looking into marriage. These women felt if they were to be in another relationship it would be with a man that would uplift her status. These women wanted a man that they could trust and count on to support them and a child. Class, race and previous experiences shaped these low-income single women notion of motherhood. Due to their low social economic status they wanted a man that could take care of their family.
Because they claimed there was a scarcity of black decent men, they looked for affordability and respectability and because of their previous experience they wanted someone they could trust. These women had their own economic stability but anted to gain upward mobility and believed having a decent trustworthy man will fulfill their notion of motherhood. Lastly through Mignon Moor’s chapter “Lesbian Motherhood and Discourses of Respectability’ we can see the ways in which lesbian women form motherhood through women’s sexual autonomy, and an emphasis in strength and resilience.
The reading discusses a lesbian woman named Jackie who has adopted her sister’s child. Jackie overcame a massive struggle with social services in finalizing her adoptive rights to Andrew. Her refusal to hide her sexuality supports the notion of black womanhood that communicates a sense of sexual autonomy. Jackass’s beliefs of what it meant to be a good mother derived from her childhood past. What she never had as a child she gave to Andrew and she made it her personal responsibility to see that he was safe, and stayed out of trouble.
For women like Jackie challenges such as race, family structure and poverty influenced how she defined motherhood. Lesbian mothers have accepted a social responsibility based on family obligations, and have looked into their upbringing and personal experience for defining lesbian One woman named Athena had difficulty with telling her child from a previous heterosexual relationship that she was a lesbian. Athena did not feel comfortable identifying herself as a lesbian because she not only felt stigmatize from the community and family but she felt it was best to keep her sexuality unexposed to protect her child.
By Athena not coming into terms with her lesbian identity it ruined her relationship and her chances to gain fulfillment in life. With the ending of her relationship with her partner we can see her understanding of motherhood. She defines motherhood as self-sacrificing for the good of the child. The move toward sexual autonomy is a struggle for women who are reluctant about their identity. Drawing a division between the two identities becomes difficult for women who are heterosexual lens and absorb cultural understandings of good motherhood in ways that make it difficult for them to view their lesbian sexuality in a positive light” (130).
There is a constant battle when one is forced to choose between who they are and what is best for their child. Unfortunately the one parallel between all women are the sacrifices they endure for their families. We can she a range of mothers living in traditional families to more radical contemporary families, and all define motherhood differently. Women re forced to navigate motherhood through tough circumstances, which can become difficult.
As seen in the reading women’s roles are stretched so thin it becomes inevitable to find a suitable balance for themselves within the family needs. We can see that motherhood can vary through the different identities such as class, race and sexuality. No women’s identities and experiences are the same, which make ‘motherhood’ hard to generalize and allows motherhood to also divide gender. It becomes a forced decision rather then a choice that women struggle with in their daily life. Motherhood has become an internal battle between selfish and selfless.
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