More Rebecca Walker

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In addition to her insights about Barack Obama destroying feminism for its own good (with multiple part analogizing of feminism to Wal-Mart), now Rebecca talks about how Alice Walker was a terrible mother and it is mostly feminism’s fault.

This is the same Rebecca Walker who wrote a book that featured a chapter about how she loved her second son a lot more than her first, according to this WaPo article, which states in pertinent part:

“It” would be her memoir, “Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence” and a certain c”hapter where she describes the difference between her love for her teenage stepson, Solomon — whom she still parents with her ex, the singer-musician (and D.C. native) Me’shell Ndegéocello — and her love for her biological son, Tenzin.

In it, she wrote: “It’s not the same. I don’t care how close you are to your adopted son or beloved stepdaughter, the love you have for your non-biological child isn’t the same as the love you have for your own flesh and blood. It’s different. . . . It isn’t something we’re proud of, this preferencing of biological children, but if we ever want to close the gap I do think it’s something we need to be honest about. . . .

“Yes, I would do anything for my first son, within reason. But I would do anything at all for my second child, without reason, without a doubt.”

See also this NYT article profiling her, which noted:

The most incendiary notion in”Baby Love”may be that, for Ms. Walker, being a stepparent or adoptive parent involves a lesser kind of love than the love for a biological child.

In an interview, Ms. Walker boiled the difference down to knowing for certain that she would die for her biological child, but feeling”not sure I would do that for my nonbiological child.”

“I mean, it’s an awful thing to say,”said Ms. Walker, who in a previous relationship helped rear a female partner’s biological son, now 14.”The good thing is he has a biological mom who would die for him.”

Ms. Walker acknowledged that her idea of blood being thicker than water runs contrary to her own philosophy in”Black, White and Jewish,”in which she writes that”all blood is basically the same.”

That must be really painful for her “first son” Solomon and I don’t understand why she would want to hurt him that way, but obviously she did. I realize it is kind of a nasty thing to point out here, but her hypocrisy in complaining about maltreatment she received as a child while inflicting something like that on another child that she purports to love strikes me as pretty contemptible. As a general matter, she does not strike me as a person others should take parenting advice from. But of course I am a feminist, part of an evil cabal that according to Walker prevents other women from having children, according to this interview, which quotes her as saying:

The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn’t take into account the toll on children. That’s all part of the unfinished business of feminism.

Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: ‘I’d like a child. If it happens, it happens.’ I tell them: ‘Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.’ As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

Welp, I’m off to celebrate the graduations of a bunch of children of feminists. Oddly their mothers are of the same approximate generation as Walker, but happily they don’t much care what Walker says or thinks about their kids or lives, and that is an example of stunning common sense I probably ought to follow.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to More Rebecca Walker

  1. Historiann says:

    It’s interesting–Rebecca Walker and Katie Roiphe have famous feminist mothers without whose fame and connections they would not have gotten any book contracts. And both have made a career out of trashing feminism and trashing their mothers. (Of course, they’ve been abetted by a publishing industry and corporate media that dig the frisson of “daughter of famous feminist disses mother, movement” headlines.) Freud, much?

    While I think there are a lot of legitimate criticisms of second-wave feminism to be made, the notion that it was anti-natal and anti-child is ridiculous. The movement itself put women’s and children’s welfare first, inseparably, but it’s so much easier and more convenient to buy right-wing frames off the rack when you want to criticize it than it is to actually, you know, do a little reading on the actual history.

    I’m almost exactly the same age as R. Walker, and I’m very sorry that hers is a voice from my generation that’s being promoted. All this Gen-Xer can say to my foremothers in the movement is “thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope that we’re worthy of all of your hard work, and we will carry on the fight.”

  2. I think it’s quite unfortunate that this family’s dirty laundry is being aired in such a bitter and public way. Certainly this does get some of feminism’s dirty laundry out in the open, which I view as a good thing. It’s high time for the ‘mommy wars’ to move beyond this either/or dichotomy that it is stuck in, and for parenting to be considered a valuable societal contribution. I’m just not sure this is the best way to do it.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    FeministReview:
    Well. whether “feminism” has “dirty laundry” depends a lot on how you define feminism. I personally don’t perceive an “either/or” dichotomy. Most of my feminist friends have kids. Some don’t by choice, others are struggling with infertility and/or considering adoption. They are all wonderful people and wonderful feminists, and many are friendly with each other, in addition to being my friends. Feminism was instrumental in establishing things like university day care centers and family leave. There isn’t a single person in the blog roll here who is anti-family or anti-child.

    Historiann,
    Right on. No one is perfect, and constructive criticism is always appropriate. But publicly bashing your mother (not to mention your oldest son!) for press attention is really lousy, especially if you simultaneously trade on her name as a career strategy.

  4. jenniferbard says:

    Maybe if we stopped paying attention to Rebecca Walker she would go away. And I agree very much that if her last name was anything other than Walker (a name to which she clings–she could change it any time) her odd views would have to compete for attention on blogs with everyone else’s–not in published books and profiles in the New York Times. The bizarre idea that feminism is anti-child sounds like something she has made up for shock value. I would like to see two documented sources.
    And for the record, the idea that feminism brought women into the workplace and away from their families is not just untrue it is the worst form of classism. It is only a narrow segment of the population of women with children who ever had the choice to not work outside the home while raising young children.

  5. Ugh! I just wrote this long response and got an error message when I went to post it. *sigh* Here’s a second, amended attempt…

    Ann- I agree with you, to an extent. Certainly ‘feminists’ are not a monolothic group, which is probably the biggest problem that I have with Walker’s article. She positions her experience as universal, and then uses it to attack ‘feminism’, in general. That’s just not good argument construction, her argument notwithstanding. We can use our own experiences to illuminate an argument, but not to construct it… at least, not if we want the argument to have any teeth beyond ‘this is my experience’ because there will always be someone to come along and say ‘well, this is *not* my experience’ – at which point, the argument falls flat.

    What is most unfortunate about what she wrote is that it will, no doubt, be utilized by anti-feminists as ‘proof’ that feminists are evil people, and even worse mothers. This again goes back to the construction (by Walker in this article and others, more generally) of ‘feminists’ as homogenous. This will further the argument that feminists are anti-child and anti-family, which, as you pointed out, is absurd.

    As to feminism’s dirty laundry, what I’m referencing here is that many things that have been/are done in the name of feminism are not all good for all women – just ask the women of Afghanistan or Iraq or Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, for that matter. That is the aspect of some people’s definition of ‘feminism’ that I think needs to be aired, examined, and thought critically about.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    FeministReview – like Walker, you are making unsupported generalizations that are unverifiable. Please list explicitly the things that were “done in the name of feminism” that were bad for “the women of Afghanistan or Iraq or Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, for that matter” and identify who did them, and then maybe we can have a useful conversation.

  7. Diane says:

    For all practical purposes, Walker was “co-parented” by Gloria Steinem. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we hear how Steinem messed up her life, too. Especially since Gloria-bashing is all the rage these days.

    Walker, I find, uses media definitions of feminism to make her arguments. Actual feminism is about liberating women to make choices. She seems to have missed that.