No doubt being intentionally provocative is good for selling newspapers. But the unsuspecting public might be well-served if such a practice carried a caution – “Warning the ideas expressed in this column may be hazardous to the health of the human community.”
Certainly Margaret Wente’s childish attack (“Globe And Mail” June 25, 2010) on women who try to take seriously the responsibilities of motherhood, should come wrapped in cellophane and only be sold from behind the counter. It is hard to imagine her opinions being given serious consideration in a public newspaper.
Wente harkens back to an idyllic age when parents sat around “in the backyard with their friends, smoking and drinking to excess, while” their children “ran wild through wooded vacant lots and hazardous construction sites.” She longs for the good old days when “my mom allowed me to go to a Cubs game in the company of the friendly school bus driver (!!!)” and “breastfeeding was regarded as faintly backward.” Presumably no child was ever hurt by “the friendly school bus driver,” and no child today benefits from the womanly art of nursing.
Of course Wente grew up in the sweet innocent era when “Nobody had heard of child abuse or BPA,” So she enjoyed the privilege of blissful fun and peace that today’s children will never experience. Today poor underprivileged middle class children are cursed with protective parents. They “live in a world where no child is left alone, not even for a moment” because we all “fear that dangerous pedophiles lurk in every bush.”
The whole idea of responsible parenting has become in Wente’s demented world, nothing but another “plot to oppress women.” The strategy “couldn’t get more diabolical.” Poor unfortunate deluded “Highly educated, progressive and enlightened mothers don’t need men to oppress them;” they have become “perfectly capable of oppressing themselves!” They “clap on the shackles” of a “new ethic of motherhood,” that “promises that you will find wisdom, happiness, and connectedness, not only with your children but with the earth itself. Instead, what you mostly get is guilt.”
The world would obviously be a better place if we were to lower “the high moral bar we’ve set for modern motherhood.” Any standard towards which a woman might aspire as a mother is obviously “a tremendous deterrent to motherhood itself.” A woman’s desire to care for her children has created a dangerous world in which Wente courageously warns us, “Any thoughtful woman would have to think twice, thrice, or three times thrice before committing to a task with such demanding standards. Can you blame them for deciding not to?”
I am not a mother and so, perhaps I have no right to speak. But I have witnessed a number of mothers in action, some at close quarters over many yeaers. I have seen how the lives of these mothers have enriched and continue to enrich the universe with untold blessings through their gracious self-giving service to their children.
For Wente the idea of selfless service may be an atrocious blunt tool to oppress frail vulnerable women who know no better than to be led into destructive self-sacrifice by the oppressive demands culture imposes upon them as mothers. But in my experience, the pinched self-obsessed little world that Wente promotes has done more harm to the world than all the selfless acts of kindness I have witnessed in the mothers I observe doing the best they can to maintain the highest standards of of care for their children.
The selfish self-absorbed world that Wente seems to want us to return to is a sad barren place where adults get to indulge their appetites with little consideration for anything other than their own amusement and pleasure. Children are a burden and should not inconvenience the adults who have had the misfortune to be entrusted with the gift of providing for their care.
I see in most of the mothers I know the finest and most gracious qualities of which human beings are capable. I delight in the dedication, commitment and gentle service the mothers I know give to support the flourishing and health of their children in every way imaginable. I see beauty in the gentle love and sacrifice of parents who set aside some of their own need to lounge around “in the backyard with their friends, smoking and drinking to excess” and instead give themselves to support a small life for which they have taken responsibility by bringing a new being into the world.
What a sad pinched little impoverished world we would live in if those who aspire to the radiant heights of motherhood were to heed Wente’s adolescent advice to substitute self-indulgence for self-sacrifice and put their own interests ahead of preparing another generation for the adventures and challenges of life. The world would be a far better place if we could raise up rather than ridicule those qualities demonstrated by all parents who in Wente’s weird world have become merely another example of the oppression of women.