I made the mistake of posting something positive about Amy Coney Barrett on a friend's divisive and derogatory post on social media.
Clearly, this particular progressive friend was only looking for responses that wouldn’t challenge her carefully constructed social media echo-chamber.
Next time, maybe I’ll remember to walk around the dog $hit instead of plopping my foot down right in the middle of it. I almost wish I could take it back now, not because of the content of my reply, but because of the unintentional chain reaction it set off.
But I’m no dirty deleter.
Align yourself with every feminist ideal or be complicit to patriarchy
My friend, a self-identified far-left feminist, posted some seriously questionable anecdotes regarding Amy Coney Barrett being a working mother. She questioned her ability to do all she’s done in her career while raising 7 kids. According to her, “clearly those kids were raised by nannies and now she’s just using them as props.”
Hmm, that’s a pretty bold conclusion.
When asked to provide references and context to her claim, she unsurprisingly didn’t have anything to back it up.
While all of her other friends liked, loved, and commented with their agreement I couldn’t help but feel discouraged by this example of my fellow feminists perpetuating this false dichotomy: fully align yourself with every feminist ideal or be complicit to patriarchy.
Instead of pointing to any of her various successes or even acknowledging her ability to balance both having a family and a meaningful career, they issue baseless personal attacks to discredit her.
There’s nothing feminist or progressive about encouraging the public to debate a woman's very personal choice to have and raise children.
In fact, isn’t that choice exactly what so many of us have been fighting for all these years?
I casually mentioned (as casually as one can on social media) that I was impressed with her various accomplishments, especially with her poise during the lengthy confirmation hearings.
They came for my head and made a heck of a lot of assumptions along the way.
We can’t let politics take away our humanity
My issue with these specific personal attacks wasn’t about partisanship, either.
I’m a feminist hippie.
But it wasn’t about politics, it was about standing up and saying “cut that crap out” when humans aren’t being decent.
There has to be space in our society to allow for encouragement and admiration of another human for their accomplishments. When someone impresses us we shouldn’t hold off on giving them praise until we first check to be sure each of their ideological values perfectly aligns with ours.
That would be disingenuous and exhausting.
While continuing this online discussion of Amy Coney Barrett’s qualifications, that same friend claimed I was being sexist for including the fact that she is both a woman and a mother in the conversation.
She claimed that kind of rhetoric about professional women and motherhood is a deeply unconscious habit in our country. According to her, being a woman or a mother shouldn’t even be part of the conversation about her qualifications.
I didn’t realize the desire for equity of representation only applies some of the time.
You know, when they better align with us politically.
Empowering women and mothers should still be a bipartisan initiative
How could we possibly eliminate Barrett’s gender and motherhood from the conversation?
Why would we want to ignore her femininity or the fact that, if confirmed to the Senate, she would become the only mother?
That matters to a lot of us, especially me.
My mom never worked.
She was a stay-at-home mom and never went to work, even as an empty-nester. We’re not so far removed from stereotypical gender roles that we no longer need to work towards a more equitable representation of female professionals.
We can’t ignore the very things that make Amy Coney Barrett uniquely her, no matter how often we’re told those qualities are irrelevant distractions.
Plus, not all of us have the privilege of resources to make parenthood appear so irrelevant in our lives.
If motherhood was purposefully and intentionally ignored as part of my identity and qualifications I’d have a much harder time explaining my absence from the workforce due to quitting my job mid-pandemic to virtually homeschool my kids.
Not to mention the times I left for the hospital in the middle of a workday to push a baby out of my vagina, or that leave of absence I took afterward to care for them. I’m certainly glad my employer didn’t consider that little trip and subsequent leave an irrelevant distraction.
Motherhood is part of my life, for better or worse, both personally and professionally.
We can’t have it both ways, but we can still have it all.
Attempting to remove or ignore specific parts and pieces of our identities, and suggesting others should do the same, does nothing to foster understanding or promote equity.
That’s just a slow and sneaky path to dehumanizing our very human differences.