In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you
Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…
Q: Does society in general deem mothers ‘more womanly’ than women who do not have children?
A: There seems to be an expectation that women should go forth and bear fruit. I am sure women without children really get tired of “explaining” themselves to people….why they don’t have kids…be it physiologically impossible or by choice and so on. It’s a lot of pressure and it adds to the feeling of failure if it is a physiological problem. I can’t say if society deems them less womanly…only less motherly perhaps.
A: Truthfully, I think so. I think that women who choose not to have children are seen as more masculine, seeking power rather than emotional connections. Society assumes all women to be motherly, I think.
A: It’s hard to say. I think its important to differentiate between “womanly” and “maternal.” They aren’t synonymous. I will not deny the power it holds, but I’m not buying society’s definition of much of anything these days…
A: Society absolutely does. Society feels that women should be mothers. Not all women want to do this, nor should they. But if you have small girls as children, you buy them dolls and teach them to be mothers. It is an ingrained behavior that conditions girls to believe that they will be complete only when they have babies.
A: I think that people think of me as more motherly now – but I think that motherhood has made me more focused on that side of me. But I don’t think I’m more or less womanly – I can’t speak for society. Lots of women are choosing not to have children – I don’t think society sees it the same way they used to (which was to have pity for the childless) I think what makes a woman womanly is her nurturing nature — which some of us express in motherhood – but I think I expressed all through by taking care of my friends.
A: Automatically, I want to say that society does deem mothers more womanly, but everything within me knows how completely incorrect that is. I even believe that just bearing children and not fulfilling that motherly role makes some women “more motherly” than women who have not had children because they’ve exercised their biological duty as a woman…But I completely disagree with this. I think being a woman is about so many different factors, but whether you’ve had children or are a mother shouldn’t be at the top of that list.
A: I don’t think so. In a twisted way, the physical changes of motherhood are feared and shamed by modern society.
A: I think they probably do. It’s not a conversation I’ve had very often, but I would assume that overly-conservative America would have such a closed-minded perspective. People who think this must also be very stuck on the idea that if you are born with penis it means you’re a man who should only be attracted to women, and that if you’re born with a vagina you’re a woman who should be attracted to men, and they do not even consider the other possibilities, even though there is a lot more diversity in sexuality and gender identity in reality.
A: Yes. But society is fucked up.
A: I think as a whole, society sees motherhood as a part of being a woman. Not all women are mothers, either by childbirth or choice. Not all mothers are worthy of the title. Womanly is a description given to individuals, to behaviors, to thoughts, to feelings. Womanly is sometimes a feeling you have yourself. Motherhood, childbirth, choosing to nurture another human can be part of it, but there is more.
A: I believe so, yes. Society tends to believe that if you don’t have kids, you must be a crazy cat lady or some kind of selfish freak.