Mark Richardson of Oz Conservative explains the mindset of career women who missed their opportunity to have children in his post “We’ve assumed we can put it off indefinitely”:
It’s not that these women have entirely rejected the idea of motherhood, but it is not actively pursued – it is something that is assumed will just happen of itself at some indefinite point of time in the future.
The women in question are 40 something UK career women quoted in a recent Daily Mail piece. They always assumed they could have it all; marriage, motherhood, and career, but the motherhood part of the equation at least turned out to be beyond their grasp. This is the exact opposite of what 55 year old feminist Elsa Walsh described in her recent Washington Post article Why women should embrace a ‘good enough’ life (H/T Greenlander). Walsh expected to have to make serious trade offs in order to indulge her feminism:
…when I enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley in 1975, I held three truths to be self-evident: I would never marry. I would never have a child. And I would have an interesting job, as a writer or a lawyer.
I wanted to be independent and self-supporting. I wanted love, but I wanted to be free.
Even after graduating college she was quite serious in her feminist ideology:
I embraced my feminism proudly. I always wore pants to work, and I swore off (stupidly, I recognize now) reading any fiction by male authors.
And yet despite her hard boiled ideology and her swearing off marriage and motherhood, the cultural inertia left over from a previous era seems to have guided her without her knowing it.
…I announced — to my parents, my friends and yes, to my boyfriend — that I was never getting married. Marriage was a patriarchal system, and I wanted none of it. We would stay together because we wanted to be together, I said.
Seven years later, I married him. And I was happy. Instead of feeling trapped, I felt liberated and secure and protected — not by patriarchy but by love. He had a young daughter whom I adored, and of course, seven years after our wedding, I had a child. I’d been wrong about that, too.
Second wave feminists like Walsh were able to have the best of both worlds. They were able to boldly declare their uncompromising feminist politics in their youth and yet somehow end up directed into both marriage and motherhood. They didn’t expect to “have it all”, but it just somehow happened. Fast forward a decade and the 40 something women in the Mail article describe the exact opposite. They always expected to have it all, and because they didn’t take deliberate action and make compromises they lost the opportunity to become mothers.
Ironically the difference in both expectations and outcomes is directly attributable to the “progress” made by the previous generation of feminists. In addition, there is strong reason to expect that the discrepancy between expectations and outcomes will only increase for younger cohorts of women, especially those who feel it is important to have their children within wedlock. Each new cohort of women continues to delay marriage further, and there are limits on how far out childbirth can be delayed.