Monday, February 5, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: "I'm doing it for my daughter"

I am loving the second season of "Victoria" on PBS... but having Victoria play the mommy card in last night's episode, about the Irish potato famine of the 1840s -- dragging her prime minister, Robert Peel, into the nursery to look at her new baby daughter & plead the case of the Irish people and their children with her baby in her arms and tears in her eyes -- was a little much.  I don't remember if she used the exact words "as a mother" but Peel responded emotionally that he too had children. (Apparently Victoria did do more for the Irish than has commonly been thought -- but I rather doubt she dragged her prime minister into the nursery like that...!) 

This reminded me of a thought-provoking New York Times opinion piece that I flagged a few weeks back for potential blogging material.  It was written prior to this year's Women's Marches, and titled "You Don't Need a Daughter to Want a Better World."  Writer Jill Filipovic noted how many women marchers had said, "I'm doing it for my daughter," & how this is a common sentiment -- the reason women give for so many things they do. 

"This is not a bad impulse, and there remains much to do for girls around the world," Filipovic writes. (Boldfacing here added by me for emphasis.) 
"But it can also undercut women’s progress. A woman’s value doesn’t derive from her status as a mother. We are entitled to rights and liberties by plain virtue of our humanness. If 2017 began with women marching for their daughters and ended with a tidal wave of female rage directed at predacious men, perhaps 2018 should be the year women resolve to go after what we want and deserve — simply for us. Imagine what could be if we did the same things we say we do for our daughters out of our own self-interest." 
She also makes this point:  
"When we do pursue what we crave, the consequences of saying so out loud can be stark: pity the poor woman foolish enough to say that she doesn’t want children because she’d rather spend her money traveling the world, or had an abortion because she just did not want a baby...  Those women are self-absorbed, greedy or deceitful; if they’re also self-identified feminists, they know to filter their truths carefully, so as not to risk undermining the entire cause they are fighting for with the suggestion that feminism might be motivated by unvarnished self-interest.  And so we focus on the next generation of not-yet-women."
Read the whole thing, & tell me what you think! 

(Caveat emptor re: the comments... there ARE some really good ones -- but also ones like: "With all due respect, the writer clearly does not have a daughter. Having a child profoundly changes you... All I can say is - you will understand when you have a child, niece, foster child, etc in your life that you would die for....") 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here


  1. YES, it's easy to default to that sentiment because it is easy to think forward when you have kids. It kind of forces you too. But it's a shit excuse because there are so many childless and young people in the world doing so much! I think it's the easy lazy response when you don't want to think to hard about how you really feel about a situation.

  2. I'm going to read the article, but I'll make the comment first that it's long been my view that if someone needs to have children to have compassion for other children, or if she (or he) only cares about feminism because she (or he) has a daughter, then she's (he's) not much of a person!

    1. I've read it now, and I think the best parts are the paragraphs you pulled out. Even when building women up, society manages to ensure they stay in their place. Sigh.

  3. Going to read the whole thing later as I need desperately to go to bed, but I totally agree with Mali! What kind of a person only does things because they have a child themselves? I feel like I have a stake in the future because I care about all humans, not just my (mythical) child. I hate when people use that as some way to seem ethically superior or more invested. Grrrr. And that comment, oy. Thanks for sharing, excellent post, I love your analysis!

  4. Whenever I see the "I'm doing it for _____ (fill in the blank)" I wonder to what extent the _______ is being used as an excuse or a motivation. Many women express that they don't feel like they can do things for themselves. They can't take a day off, they can't get away, they can't go back to school. . .etc. I'm not judging any of that, it's an individual's perception and that's not mine to judge. That said, I do always wonder if the "I'm doing it for ____" is the way that some women justify doing things for themselves.

    And now, I'm going to go have a cookie. For my tastebuds, totally not for me! :)

  5. I agree with the general position that one does not / should not need children to have a stake in the future....and as I’ve said many times I was lucky to be befriended and mentored by several people without kids so I have personal experience of how meaningful that is. On the other hand...well...I’ve bern changed by having kids. I haven’t seen that Victoria episode but if I did I would probably be blubbering mess...that’s how it changes you. Speaking for myself, I have a more visceral reaction to anything that harms or endangers a child since having my own. I want to say a different part of the brain gets activated: something older and more instinctive. Does that make me a better person....not necessarily. It could make me more compassionate in theory but also more unreasonable, angry and defensive. In summary what I’m trying to say is I do believe having kids changes you: mentally and biologically. But everybody needs to find a way to use the best of themselves to make their lives and the world better. There’s room for every honest effort I hope!