Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On responsible motherhood...

The concept of responsible motherhood is present in both Paravaz's treatment of Nadya Suleman and Applebaum's piece, "When Women go to War." Paravaz says "Parenting is possibly the highest form of social responsibility, something neither Suleman nor her doctor has a handle on." The choice to become a mother, from Suleman's point of view, should be conscious; it should necessitate a pre-meditated awareness of what it means to bring another human being into the world. The physical and mental dedication of being a mother should also encompass monetary realities and take into account the parents' available time to dedicate to raising children--something Suleman seemingly overlooked or at least rationalized away. 

Applebaum hints at motherhood as a social responsibility, though what most stands out to me is her last sentence:

"In fact, it is only when the armed forces are comfortable enough with women to treat them differently, and only when military mothers are comfortable enough to be treated differently, that we will know they have arrived." 

Applebaum explores the question of womens' treatment in the military when pregnant, though points to the larger issue of self-identity in terms of gender--or perhaps in terms of occupying the role of parent. What freedoms does one "give up" when becoming a parent? For a women, when she decides to carry a child? Or rather, what state of being does this choice call into action? One that says a parent must cut back on work hours? Remove themselves from danger? "Sacrifice" their jobs? 

In my opinion, it seems the decision to become a parent should make these choices anything but sacrifices. Rather, they are a natural and exciting part of becoming a parent--wrapped up in the very definition and role of parenting. If people don't really want to raise their children, then they probably shouldn't become a parent in the first place. Furthermore, to have a strong sense of self would help to withstand and fight against--perhaps even move to change--the discrimination popping up in the workplaces, in this context the military. 

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