A few weeks ago, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to take to Instagram Live and make a statement about the environment, but instead ended up raising a question about motherhood. It was a question that, frankly, was irresponsible for a public figure, let alone a member of Congress, who wields so much influence and power, to subject our society to. In the video, she said, “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult, and it does lead, I think, young people, to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’”
The statement, fueled by her own personal agenda, points to a much bigger issue that is affecting our country. Regardless of her intentions, AOC is discrediting women everywhere by questioning their natural desire to have children and also questioning the responsibility of having children in today’s society. There is already a huge stigma around women who long for motherhood and pursue having a family over having a career.
On Fox News, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women of America, fired back at AOC’s comment: “[This is] the same apoplectic anti-child rhetoric we’ve heard before.” Such radical anti-children comments are smearing the earnest intentions and desires of women all over the U.S. whose greatest ambition is to be a mother. For many, including myself, the calling to be a parent is the most important thing they will ever realize in their life.
Women who place their focus on motherhood and raising a family are often looked down upon in today’s pop culture. Television shows like Sex and the City, Vampire Diaries, and Two and a Half Men and movies like How to be Single, No Strings Attached, and He’s Just Not That into You glamorize casual dating and make parenthood seem like a trap, implying that by having children, a woman can no longer fulfill her career ambitions and be fully empowered as a woman because she has a baby to care for and nurture.
Women who choose to seek motherhood or to be a stay-at-home mom are viewed as weaker than those who stick to their career and don’t pursue marriage and a family. Women are falling for the lie that they must be self-dependent and self-sufficient to be fulfilled.
Sarrah Le Marquand, Editor-in-Chief of the Australian magazine Stellar, once wrote, “There’s one issue guaranteed to trigger hysteria across the nation … It’s the topic of stay-at-home mums. More specifically, the release of any data or analysis that dares recommend Australian women should get out of the living room/kitchen/nursery and back into the workforce.” Jody Day, author of Living the Life Unexpected, denigrated motherhood by stating, “As we continue to delve into a realm where childlessness is not just a choice, but a common part of our culture, perhaps the glorification of motherhood will start to disintegrate.”
The horrifying reality is that society today no longer wants to celebrate and give God the glory for the gift of motherhood, which is a natural blessing of womanhood. This cultural shift is showing in the falling number of women having children. According to a recent study, the average number of children women are having in their lifetime has fallen from 4.7 in 1950 to 2.4 in 2017.
Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, addressed the reason for this trend when he said, “There is no getting around the fact that the relationship between gender equality and fertility is very strong.” He elaborated: “There are no high-fertility countries that are gender equal.” Many assume that a woman chooses to have more children or stay at home because there is a lack of gender equality. No one appreciates the woman whose main “career goal,” her greatest personal achievement, is to be a mother, even a stay-at-home mother.
In college, I had a close friend who confided to me that she felt hopeless and alone because she felt that her greatest calling in life was to be a mother. My sweet friend was very much single with little to no relationship prospects. She told me, “Everyone keeps pushing me to a more realistic goal to work towards, and I feel like they think me building a career is the most important thing in my life. It is only a secondary goal for me.”
My friend made it clear to me that to the world, having a successful career is the primary goal, but for many women of God, it is only secondary. Like her, my main calling in life is to grow and raise a God-fearing and honoring family. Every other goal, including my career goals, will fall into place around it. So, how can we as godly women not be discouraged in this pro-singleness culture?
Many in our culture seem to think that motherhood is the end of your life, but it isn’t. It is the end of living for yourself. Motherhood is often a thankless job, and many feminists don’t want to give up the worldly career recognition that often has to be given up when motherhood is placed first.
I believe wholeheartedly that mothers should be honored and cherished. They deserve recognition and praise for everything that they do. Regardless though, being a mom requires self-sacrifice, and frankly, that is something that the feminist movement does not want to accept. To them, it means giving up a career position, title, and status.
Motherhood is about laying down one’s ambition for the sake of their children and putting their needs, wants, and futures first. As women, motherhood is not about giving up our strength but about utilizing it for the sake of others. It is about embracing our vulnerability to be a woman and a mother.
Alyson Gritter is an intern at Family Research Council.