June 15, 2012 by Vicki
Lately, in Boudica Books, we have been looking at real human heroes. I read Parrot Pie for Breakfast and will be reviewing Boudica Britannia on this coming Tuesday. In the news, we have the creation of a new female hero.China will be sending its first female astronaut into space. For more information, feel free to click on these links:
Perhaps, I’m overly sensitive. After all, this is a momentous occasion and it is an achievement for Chinese woman. However, I have to ask the question – why do woman have to be mothers before they can become astronauts? Now, to be fair, some Chinese authorities have denied this requirement exists. My problem arises from the North American reaction to this requirement. People seem to think that this is a good idea. They argue this restriction protects the interests of the female astronauts as the effect of space radiation on female fertility is unknown. Why do we assume that all women want to be mothers? Why do we think it’s a good idea to stop someone’s ability to progress in their career until they have a child? Why is the same consideration not applied to the male astronauts? After all, it takes two to tango.
Personally, I would like to become a mother. I, however, also know several women who have no desire to become mothers. They are loving women who just have a different focus in their lives. So, if one of these women wanted to be an astronaut – it would be ok to stop her from achieving that goal until she had a child? But, her husband can go right ahead and jump into the fertility-killing radiation. This is equality?
I understand that China has very different customs and beliefs inherent in their culture. I am not going to presume to judge those beliefs or customs. I am, however, going to criticize my own culture for saying that these “protections” are appropriate. Why does our society still assume all women should be mothers? We claim that we have achieved female equality. We point to women’s ability to vote, to have political office, to run a business, and yet, all of that hangs on her ability and desire to have a child. Unless a woman has a child, by a certain age, she is assumed to be less than. I know I’ve heard the comments which suggest if a woman doesn’t have a child; she will become insane and obsess over cats. Yet, a man can choose not to have children and this is understandable. A man can choose to abandon his children to the care of their mother and this is understandable. A woman abandons her child and she is a horrible creature; no matter her own situation. Where is that equality again?
The kicker, of course, is if we do have children and a successful job, then we are judged again. How can we raise our children if we are working 50-60 hours a week? Even if we only work 40 hours a week, we do not have any control over the hours we have to work. Society cries out against children being raised by nannies or babysitters. Somehow, the mother remains responsible for this situation as well. The father may also be working 50-60 hours a week, but he has to support his family. If a father stays home to look after the children; the mother is judged again. I know several fathers who raise their children themselves. They are some of the best parents I know. Fathers raise children just as well as mothers.
To the stay-at-home fathers and mothers and the single parents of the world; I can only say well done. You have the hardest job in the world and yet, one of the most rewarding. I hope you can recognize its benefits to help you endure the difficulties. To the working parents; don’t listen to society; you are raising your children to the best of your abilities. To those who do not wish to have children; don’t listen to society; you know what is best for you and for your family. We all live our lives to the best of our abilities. We all know what we want out of that life, and should have the right to pursue it without judgement.