Are Motherhood and Feminist Womanhood Mutually Exclusive?

Yes, I argued in a recent paper, both in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and today. It was more the case in Chopin’s New Orleans, where proper motherhood involved complete idolization of one’s children. But even now, I would argue, feminists who are trying to advance the cause don’t much like women who stop working, care for their children, and ultimately cede financial independence (and therefore emotional independence) to their husband. Stay at home mothers would argue that properly raising children is an enormous challenge and a noble contribution to the next generation. True. But the feminist spirit as articulated by the leaders means that women should be independent when they’re supposed to be dependent, and challenge the status quo when they’re supposed to conform to a subservient standard.

There are a number of associated questions, such as whether there is merit to correlational studies which show higher competence and confidence in children raised by stay at home moms.

I pose the question back to the reader – can one be a stay at home mother and also advance the feminist spirit? Is stay at home motherhood mutually exclusive with feminism?

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