I found this article provincial, strange and disappointing, until I read Ms. Aronowitz's bio. Of course there is a disconnect between young women and mothers' issues--but other than correctly recognizing this, Ms. Aronowitz herself otherwise misses something when she views the issues as a disconnect between feminism and mothers' issues. Decades of activism and conversation have progressed such that, absent a deliberate effort to become educated in the subject matter, it would be almost impossible for a young, childless woman, lacking personal experience or breadth of vision, to bring much of anything to the table in the way of new ideas.
That lack of a "bird's-eye view" is part of the problem. Every generation of youth believes that it has discovered truths and has unique wisdom, and yet save for those furthering knowledge in a field of academic specialty, tends to start where its elders once were and from which points they have moved far on and beyond. Are we doomed to get nowhere because the wheel continually must be reinvented? Or because pretty wordsmithy is all that is needed for pundits to opine, never mind if there is substance?
The second part of the problem is getting information from the choir of peers. We cannot build upon the knowledge of the past if it's just not learned, so that it can boost the point where each successive generation commences its own work. Nearly twenty years ago when Irene Stuber began "spreading the word" on the very new public Internet, she highlighted this hindrance to women's progress and, sadly, it still exists. A disconnect between "mainstream feminism" and mothers? Whose "mainstream feminism"? When? Are you girls listening to our mothers? There were two full decades after the '70s and feminism moved on, and the issues moved on. It is sadly telling of our education system in this country that Ms. Aronowitz has completely missed literally thousands of academic and organizational websites, containing hundreds of thousands of articles on the very issues she raises, but assumes that knowledge and activism is to be found exclusively in fleeting blogsphere commentary and popular media.
I must make an additional comment on the fatherhood issues and "dads being part of the conversation." We've had National Fatherhood Initiative, workfare, child support enforcement, a revolution in family laws and all of the rhetoric attendant on this position for almost fifteen years now. There was an anti-feminist backlash after the '70s, and by the '90s it was already erasing gains across the board for women, largely boosted by the rise of the popular Internet. Lip service to gender-neutral policies that ignore the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and family life continues, and has now contaminated non-gender-neutral issues such as domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay and the panoply of family laws.
Eighty percent of women will have children, and the majority of divorces, not including unwed paternity cases, involve children. The steady stream we lawyers see of confused, betrayed, beleaguered and devastated women in their 20s and 30s continues, as feminists and "post-feminists" discover the realities of patriarchy. Realities such as that equal pay doesn't mean so much if one simply cannot do that travel, or when one realizes that children cannot be warehoused in daycare fifty hours a week, or if one is not even permitted to take that job offer post-divorce because it involves relocation. Realities such as when, despite her best planning and education, it dawns that if a mother's economic and employment viability is still be tied to the character, fortunes and beneficent largess of the man she married or divorced, not so much has changed. That's not a disconnect between feminism and motherhood; it's a disconnect between the illusions and ideals of a childless uninformed youth and what feminism really is all about. The biggest surprise, of course, comes when women have children and, suddenly, it's not theoretical and the care, custody and well-being of those children override their prior plans and imaginings all about equal marriage and "sharing" the housework and child-rearing.
There are numerous excellent women and mothers' issue bloggers on the internet . The article's respondents have only scratched the surface. Sadly, many of them can be found on domestic violence and family issue blogs. Be this as it may, kindly note that the wisdom of the world is not necessarily contained within the blogsphere. It resides in research, historical documents, the opinions of young women from decades past, books, law and all that old stuff that doesn't spark and then sputter after a go-round for two or three days prompted by the attention-deficit-disordered "news." To the extent that in this airbrushed porn-permeated anti-woman youth-arrogant world there is inherent major media biasing against mothers' issues (which are--surprise, surprise--at the root of patriarchy and all feminist issues), caution is advised; too much of the blogsphere does tend to pick up and comment and cross-comment upon primarily only that which originates with the major media and current events. Not all do, of course, and I'm glad to see that a few of those substantial pundits already have raised their voices in protest here.
Elizabeth J. Kates
Pompano Beach, FL
May 20 2009 - 10:20am