A feminist, like everyone else, can be inconsistent. You could summarize a recent post by Calah Alexander that way.
We came across Ms. Alexander’s piece, “What a Woman in Crisis Really Needs” recently.
I’m sick and tired of hearing about “women in crisis” and how they need access to emergency contraception and abortions. That is a huge, steaming pile of lies, propagated by people who like to murder babies. Women in crisis do not need access to abortions. What they need is love, support, a safe place to live, and people (even strangers!) who will tell them the truth: that they are more than capable of being a mother. That they can do this. That their crisis, no matter how terrible, will be healed in the long, sometimes painful, always joyful process of becoming a mother.
Ms. Alexander goes on to assure her readers that she was not “speaking from my comfortable suburban home, having never known trials …” Truth to tell, she found out she was pregnant during a time when she was addicted to crystal meth. The story that unfolds is certainly compelling.
Alexander’s burden is to push back against the implicit message that generally undergirds the “woman-in-crisis” motif.
You can’t do this [i.e. be a mother]. You are too weak to resist. You’re not a mother, you’re unfit to be a mother, we know you won’t make sacrifices for your child. Better for the child to not live at all than to be abandoned by a drug-addled mother. After all, what kind of life will she have. The daughter of an addict.
Calah Alexander’s story is a modern-day picture of womanhood as promoted by Lydia Sigourney 150 years ago in her book, Letters to Young Ladies. Sigourney was an early maternal feminist. She held a complementarian view of the sexes. She promoted biblical marriage. She championed the family and motherhood. And she combined all of that with a firm conviction of feminine strength and resilience that would warm the heart of every radical feminist in 2013.
Sigourney’s book includes several portraits of remarkable feminine courage. Including this one, on page 217.
Because woman is deficient in physical strength, it does not follow that she need be so in moral courage Many examples might be cited to prove that she is not. Passive and patient endurance has been often so naturalized as to seem indigenous. Instances of intrepidity might also be adduced, which has conquered the most formidable difficulties and dangers. When Queen Christina was once visiting some ships-of-war that were building in Stockholm, a circumstance occurred which revealed her presence of mind in danger. While crossing a narrow plank, conducted by the oldest admiral, in consequence of a false step, he fell, and drew her with him, into water nearly a hundred feet in depth. Some of the first nobles of the realm, plunging in, she was rescued. The moment her head was raised above the sea, entirely forgetful of herself, she said, “Take care of the admiral.” On being brought to shore, she testified no agitation, but having been expected to dine in public that day, she did so, with perfect calmness of manner and her usual degree of animation. Page 217
Three cheers for Queen Christina! Thank you, Lydia Sigourney. Kudos to you, Calah Alexander! May your tribe increase.
- Gary Brumbelow
This post is the ninth in a series on maternal feminism.