Rebecca Walker reflects on motherhood

Rebecca Walker has a piece in Britain's Daily Mail about being raised by a feminist and her subsequent estrangement from her mother.

I found her writing to be extremely moving and compelling, but I think her underlying premise, that her mother's disinterest in mothering is the fault of 2nd wave feminism to be wrong. Her mother, Alice Walker, of The Color Purple fame, among many other important feminist writings, sounds like a typical narcisstic parent. I may be projecting far too much, but I do think artists, especially ones that have had to struggle to get where they are because of racial, economic, gender prejudices, or being undermined by their families or communities, have a tendency to be incredibly egocentric, as parents, as partners, as friends. What saddens me, however, about R. Walkers' interpretation is that she attributes it to her mother's feminism. I think this is too simplistic.

While Alice Walker may have made many bad parenting choices (and I think it's important to try to resist using the term "mothering," as "fathering" has a totally different connotation, and there are central principles that I think mothers and fathers both share as people responsible for children), I think blaming feminism is a serious disservice on Rebecca Walker's part. At the same time, I understand how one might attribute one's parent's philosophical and social practices as the source of the problem for one's childhood, as that is what frames many of their actions. What is clear is that Alice Walker was deeply ambivalent about being a parent, and about being a mother, and Rebecca clearly suffered as a result. I do not think, however, that feminism is the cause.

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