Wednesday, April 18, 2007

*Mother Fckrs

I've just read the Washington Post book review for The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennett, a book about the economic realities that mothers face . You can read Rachel Hartigan Shea's review here! Shea does a very thorough job of encapsulating Bennett's work. Here are the hard facts:
  • Mothers are 44% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with the same experience
  • Employers pay mothers an average of $11,000 less in starting salary than non-mothers with the same qualifications
  • Women lose 37% of their earning power after 3 years at home.
  • Of the 74% of mothers who return to work, only 40% are able to find full time employment
To say that this ruffles my feminist feathers is an understatement! I have a visceral reaction to injustice. In general, women in America earn only 2/3 of what men do and women artists earn only 1/3 of what men do, so when I'd learned of the further beat-down that mothers get, I was furious. Ok, I know, women have been getting *fckd (both literally and figuratively) throughout history so this new analysis should come as no surprise, but it continues to anger me. Some interesting reading about the feminine struggle in the art world and health care professions can be found here, here, and here! (two subjects close to my heart)

I would like to close with my own hard facts in favor of femininity and motherhood:
  • The wonder of sharing my body with another human being for 40 weeks and the awe of feeling the first flutters of life.
  • The magnitude of labor that I can only describe as an earthquake in my body. A sensation so mighty that it literally drove me to my knees. A powerful energy that shook me from sleep like those summer storms that seemingly come out of nowhere with a loud clap and a bolt of light. It was as if my body was saying, "this is IT...the miraculous is is coming through you". The birth of my son was a quake that shook the very core of my being and split my perception of the world wide open.
  • The tenderness of nourishing life at my breast...with milk that contains exactly the right amount of protein and fat and antibodies. The sweetness of watching little eyes roll back with satisfaction and a milk drippy chin.
  • The privilege of being a SAHM and being there for the first smile, first words, first steps...

The reality is...all life comes through the feminine. The female is the doorway to life. In spite of the sexism that continues to exist, I wouldn't trade motherhood for ANYTHING, not even a penis or a paycheck because.....I'VE GOT THE POWER!!! (Shall we dance?)

*I apologize for the profanity, but I felt it was both appropriate and witty given the nature of the post.

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posted by Wendy at 6:58 AM


Blogger Julie said...

uuugghhhh... I could just scream.. so basically we're screwed if we stay home and/or screwed if we work.
I really enjoyed Rachel Hartigan's review though.. I like that she personalized it by including her own circumstances with her pre-schooler.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Seemingly so, Julie. While the feminist movement has gained some ground:
- Women have the right to own property (there was a time when property could only be owned by a male)
- Women have the right to attend universities (there was a time when women were forbidden to attend art academies etc)
- Women have the right to a profession of their choice (there was a time when women were were forbidden medical licenses and could only be nurses "assisting" the male doctor)
- Women have the right to vote

While so very much has changed, men continue to get paid more than women for the same job and experience. And now it seems, mothers, are facing even further discrimination.

One would think that mothers should get paid more because we have learned to be excellent multi-taskers!

Still, while men may rule the money game...biologically, I still think WE'VE GOT THE POWER!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

hahaha.. I started to bust a move in my office chair when i heard the song.
I often wonder why women are so grateful for things that should have been our right as a human being to begin with.
I'm grateful for those who fought for us to be able to vote and own property and become doctors but I'm more upset at the men who made it impossible in the first place.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

and just think it all began not to far from you in Seneca Falls Robert wanted to take me there before we moved, but we ran out of time.

Wasn't the film, Iron Jawed Angels wonderful? If you haven't seen, rent it at Blockbuster. It rocks!!!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

W-I am with you on the economic realities part. But Bennetts does not seem to be the kind of mother that you would really resonate with. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on her book.
I suppose I need to read it, to be fair, but I already do not like what I'm reading about it so far, with the exception of her statistics. They serve as a fire alarm in my book to women who could choose not to have children and instead opt for the kind of financial self-preservation that is possible when one is childless. It is up to us and, yes, we do have the power.

1:24 PM  

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