I am a feminist. I believe women should have equal opportunities to men. I acknowledge that they often do not. (Yes, even now.)
I am also a mother, and when it it came to preparing for motherhood, feminism let me down.
From the beginning, we tell young girls they can do anything they want to do, they can be anyone they want to be. They are given access to great education, encouraged to further their studies and attain higher degrees. We push them to push themselves, to break boundaries, to achieve what seems impossible, to break through corporate glass ceilings and professional roadblocks.
We tell them they can have it all. And they can.
Until they have a baby.
In the fight to ensure equality, as we preach to girls that they can — and should — do anything a boy can do, we are failing to prepare women for one of the greatest challenges so many of them will face; motherhood. We are teaching our young people that there is no value in motherhood and that homemaking is an outdated, misogynistic concept. We do this through the promotion of professional progression as a marker of success, while completely devaluing the contribution of parents in the home.
We then wonder why, when these girls become women who turn into mothers, they suffer from depression, anxiety and struggle to find a sense of self or identity. Are we truly helping women get ahead, or are we instead setting them up for a future of self doubt and a sense of failure?
We are functioning in a society that pretends women don’t grow up to become mothers. We are so driven by the focus that women can do the same and be the same as men, that we completely fail to provide them with education or understanding of what may be ahead for them, as future homemakers and those who raise children. How can we ensure equality for all women, when we place so little value on the role of the mother?
Mums need the sisterhood more than ever. We need feminism. But we need it from the beginning.
We need to be telling our young people that raising children is an incredibly important part of the fabric of our society and we need to be giving them the skills to be doing that well.