Web Letters | The Nation

I'm Not a 'Mother First'

Mother and Woman: United for Real Equality

Valenti criticizes the split conception (à la Cartesian dualism) of “mother first,” but then makes the same conceptual error in proposing “woman first.” Conceptual splitting (the philosophical foundation and rationale for things like war and genocide, racialism and nationalism, and Valenti’s brand of feminism) pits one “separate” part against its false opposite and encourages a dead end search for the ultimate Real. When we “split” woman from mother and pit identity against identity, mothers' rights against children's rights, etc.—someone loses. From a relational meta-theoretical perspective (the philosophical foundation and rationale for social justice, I might add), woman and mother are fused and reciprocally interactive parts of a whole (identity/system) that cannot be meaningfully ordered. Their fusion means that devaluing “mother” counterproductively devalues “woman.” To transcend the oppression that women (and others) experience, we need to transcend split conceptions—even those espoused by well-meaning feminists—and find ways of living that honor the whole (person/relationship, etc.).

Amy Eva Alberts Warren, PhD

Chelmsford, MA

Oct 9 2012 - 5:11pm