The abolition of motherhood

One of Apostolic Christianity’s perhaps best-known customs is the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Amongst many Protestant denominations it is also perhaps the most ridiculed practice, and yet throughout history, organised religion has always, to a greater or lesser degree, set the epitome of a motherly figure close to the centre of its ritual. Mary is not alone; in Islam, Muhammad’s wife Aisha is given the honorary title “Mother of the Believers” and amongst orthodox Sunnis at least she is considered a model for the ideal Muslim matron. Judaism has its own long line of Biblical matrons with whom all adherents of Abrahamic faiths will be familiar: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel – the list goes on. In pagan faiths female fertility and mother-goddesses are a near-universal feature; the bottom line of all of this is quite clear – there is a certain transcendental and venerable role attached to the ideal matron, the wife and mother.

In an age such as our own, where the transcendental and the religious is considered at best an historical curiosity, and at worst a ridiculous delusion, it is perhaps not surprising that the place of these figures in the mindset of modern Western Man has shifted to the very rear of his consciousness. With the abolition of the transcendent God, with which comes the abolition of His clear mandates concerning a desirable and sustainable natural order, society has been forced to seek an alternative order on which to pin its quite reasonable search for meaning and leadership. The consequence of the new order has been the cult of feminism, an ideology not only alien to the days of Mary and Aisha, but even from the most recent past centuries, at least in terms of its goals and consequences. The result is the abolition of motherhood.

Feminist Society’s War on Women

In modern Europe, it seems that traditional marriage, and the role of motherhood which was considered to be the natural fulfilment of the wife’s end of the partnership, is being actively denied and obstructed for women. With the rise of a social attitude which places such importance on the concept of “freedom of choice”, this has in fact translated into a culture which permits only one choice as socially acceptable. Indeed, if a woman chooses not to have a career, but to raise children alone at home; not to fulfil the same role as her husband, but to attend to the alternative, traditional separation of duties which governed married life for centuries; then as far as contemporary society is concerned, she had made the wrong choice, and is suffering from one of modern liberalism’s most pernicious pathologies: internalised misogyny; that is to say, a kind of male-indoctrinated self-hatred.

Many of the traditional privileges and tax breaks afforded to married couples in the UK have been abolished, and those that do remain appear to favour couples who are both in work. For instance, the Marriage Allowance still offered by the UK Government is in fact only a transfer a small portion of non-taxable income (about one thousand pounds) from the highest-earning married partner to another, rather than a tax break per se, and even then, the lowest earner must have an income below £11,850, in order to be eligible,[1] a salary so low that practically speaking such a scheme could only ever be available to the genuinely poor, and as such means nothing to the average traditional married couple, who are struggling with only one income and one stay-at-home mother. In the calculation of everything from academic bursaries and loans to taxation, household income is calculated as a single figure, without any investigation into whether or not one or two partners are in work. Since non-taxable income in the UK is £11,850, a couple with two incomes of say, £25,000 each have a total non-taxable income of £23,700 – nearly half their total combined income. However, in the case of a married couple where only the husband is in work earning £50,000, he pays much more tax, since his non-taxable income remains set at the £11,850 figure, not to mention being in a higher tax band than the two £25k-earning couples. As such, families with stay-at-home wives and working husbands are penalised with higher taxes.

This appears to be part of a wider culture which views a woman’s decision to be a stay-at-home mother, and to forego a career, as undesirable, thus encouraging the abolition of motherhood. The priority seems to be, as it so often is in states governed by neoliberal theory, to get people, any people, into work, and often at the expense of social values. Recent furores over the gender pay gap and introduction of female quotas by companies seem either oblivious to the fact that women, in general, are expensive to employ because they do take maternity leave (what with it being a legal right in most Western countries) and when the media does recognise that a pay gap exists for this reason, its response appears to be that measures taken to discourage and remove the allures of stay-at-home motherhood are a positive thing. In countries which claim to be liberal democracies, this trend is becoming increasingly and dangerously authoritarian: in Sweden, Iceland, and Norway a parental leave allowance offered to couples who have children is taken away if the husband does not meet a quota of parental leave allocated to him – that is to say, there is no way for the wife alone to take more leave than the father if that is what the couple wishes;[2] and in the UK, whilst there have always been those women on lower incomes who have no choice but to work, the 30 hours free childcare offered to women by the Government seems to indicate that the priority is not mothers looking after their children, but rather than they return to work as soon as possible after childbirth.[3]

The Consequences of the War on Women

What is the consequence of this imposition of what liberalism deems to be the right choice? Ultimately it is the abolition of motherhood, where the children of married couples will suffer, not to mention the wives and mothers themselves. Many childcare providers today will offer care up to at least 6pm in the evening if not later – at the same time, it is generally accepted that younger children ought to be in bed between 6-8pm depending on their age, and working professionals will not only work late, but have further work to do upon their return home in the evening, sacrificing precious bonding time between mother and child. Instead of spending this time with their children, nurturing, loving and importantly, educating them at the most formative phase of their lives, women are instead obliged by professional society to spend their wages on pursuits which serve little purpose other than as displays of financial capability. It matters very little, for instance, whether or not young Timmy Jr. has piano lessons aged 3, it probably does matter, on the other hand, that his mother has spent almost no time with him since she finished breastfeeding, and instead he has been raised by an over-worked, distractible day-care provider with no emotional attachment to him whatsoever. In short, professional careers are incompatible with healthy motherhood, particularly when children are still at a very young age.

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We cannot, of course, say that women who choose to have careers are necessarily wrong in doing so, or that by having children they somehow subordinate their love for their children to their job. Nevertheless, we are witnessing one of the greatest confidence tricks of the century: a con which says that it is not difficult, or indeed, that it is a fundamental right for mothers to both maintain a professional career and effectively maintain a healthy motherly position. Jordan Peterson has mentioned that case studies in countries which have tried to force women into certain careers which traditionalists might call “unsuitable” for women have not had much effect. In Norway, for instance, large public initiatives were established attempting to encourage women to become engineers (a career path dominated by men) and men to become nurses. The effects of the scheme turned out to be negligible.[4] The lesson which these cases teach us is clear: that women are inclined, quite naturally, towards certain caring, more motherly pursuits. This is the truth, and no matter how uncomfortable it may be for some, it nevertheless remains so.

Potential Mothers Must Make a Choice

Women are told that they can have it all, and some extraordinary women probably can, but when an entire society is structured around this falsehood, it leads to dire consequences. The supposed aim of feminism was to enable women to make choices more freely; in reality, it has become quite clear that the aim of feminism has been to force women into making the egalitarian choice, nay, the only choice. When women realise the truth – that they cannot have it both ways – what results are the incongruous shrieks of “unfairness!” and “inequality!” the bugbear of our time. For conservatives, there ought to be a desire to refocus the intent of women upon the core responsibilities of motherhood and marriage, to prevent the abolition of motherhood. Society at large will no-doubt find this uncomfortable, and so such a task will begin with individual families and more broadly the (likely religious) traditional communities which these families associate into. After all, in a similar vein to what the Virgin Mary discovered, there are some things which are simply far more important and timeless than satisfying the petty expectations of contemporary society.

 

[1] From the UK Government’s website https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2013/nov/29/parental-leave-rights-around-world

[3] https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/free-childcare-and-education-for-2-to-4-year-olds

[4] As mentioned in his address to the Oxford Union, 16th May 2018 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZMIbo_DxJk)