Remember the height of the RadFemTumblr debates and drags that happened between Radical Feminists that have the part of the politics that are critical or against natalism and hetpartnering versus het-attracted and/or -partnered feminists, perhaps ‘rad-leaning’ in certain ways such as being anti-porn and somewhat gender critical, who are pro-natalism and not het critical who think that Radical Feminists against natalism “hate mothers” and “hate children?”
Well, here’s the thing: the RadFem anti-natalist stance is not about “hating mothers” or “hating children” (even though it’s true that some of us sometimes feel annoyed by kids and annoyed with the defensiveness of het mothers over not wanting to question heterosexuality and motherhood or think critically about it).
In fact, anti-natalist RadFems are listening to mothers and critically reflective hetpartnered women.
They are mothers who have come to realize that the positive popular societal and cultural narratives about motherhood bringing women life fulfillment, purpose, and ultimately happiness, turned out to be a bittersweet myth or a flat-out lie.
And we’re listening to these mothers.
I have lost count of the number of mothers and mothers as clients who have, on their own impulse, decided to warn me about motherhood and partnering with men*. Too many of them have encouraged me to avoid both motherhood and men for my own happiness, social life, education, and career’s sake.
I’ve been warned time and time again by mothers and hetpartnered women about the pitfalls and drawbacks of het-marriage or het-relationships and the mommy track.
I’ve lost count of the number of mothers who have told me about how much they regret motherhood and hetpartnering. How both set them on a life course away from a single childfree life of self-exploration, adventure, educational and occupational opportunities, social independence, and free time for themselves when they could focus and prioritize their relaxation, aspirations, needs, wants, health, and goals without a boyfriend, husband, and/or kids to detract from all of that or to distract them.
And these het mothers who have shared with me are mostly newcomer, low income, and/or working class women, often women of color, who cannot afford to pay ongoing, long-term, child caretakers to tend to their kids’ needs while they study, work, run errands, be sociable outside the home and outside of family life, and more.
Too many of them regret motherhood and partnering with men.
Too many of them have told me that they’d hate to see me have my own ambitions, success, studies, social life, and free time crushed or lost under the additional stress and demands of a mothering het life in which, as someone assigned the feminine sex role due to being female, I’d be primarily tasked with completing unpaid domestic labor a.k.a unpaid housework such as cooking and cleaning, and childcare that saps me of my energy, takes up my schedule, and consumes my time.
I’m a childfree RadFem against compulsory motherhood and pro-natalism not just because of “theory” (as if anti-natalism is entirely abstract and detached from “real life”), but because I’m listening and payingattention to the women who have been through childbearing and childrearing, often while matched with men, and I don’t discount or dismiss what they’re telling me.
Pro-natalism and compulsory motherhood is an issue and it’s a part of what oppresses women and puts us at a disadvantage.
I wish more tumblrradfems (or just RadFems in general) and ‘rad-leaning’ feminists took it seriously.
Since this is a heteronormative society, the automatic assumption made by virtually everyone IRL is that I’m attracted to men. This assumption is also partly due to the fact that in a lot of public and professional settings I’m visibly feminine-presenting, although not heavily. If people perceived me as “butch” or I presented as more gender-non conforming my sexuality wouldn’t be so often assumed as heterosexual. I agree with lesbian feminists who argue that butch and gnc women have more lesbian visibility (this does not mean that they’re “privileged”, it actually can endanger them more). Also, I do not want to put myself on the spot by daily or regularly ‘outing’ myself to correct people who advise me about men and het relationships as if I’m het-attracted because that’s a risk I can’t yet take.*