At the U.N., the health of the economy is often used as an indicator of the effectiveness of programs and social patterns. With money flying as the devious banner of success, social progress has effectively been reduced to a person’s ability to feed the monetary system. The ability of women and men to contribute powerfully and uniquely to the world is being supplanted as they are sucked into the cogs of a society driven by pecuniary values. This is leading to degeneration, which is creating fissures in our societal foundations that are ultimately undercutting the goal of societal growth.
The true banner of success is not the strength of our economy, but the strength of our families. A world built upon a foundation of strong family units is an ideal that can be difficult to achieve; but while it is true that we often fall short of the ideal, it is becoming increasingly evident that giving up on the ideal is the wrong approach. Devaluing families has had a destructive domino effect that is already taking an alarming toll on the rising generation.
By contrast, maternal feminism identifies the family as the most crucial unit in society. What could reduce homelessness? Family members who make sacrifices to help when one of their own is struggling. What could reduce crime? Stable and safe home environments. What will elevate woman? Freedom to choose the path that is best for her and her family. What will reduce poverty and build the economy? An innate support system that supports education and personal development. For those individuals who do not have a stable family to turn to, the community can become a family. Just like a nuclear family, taking care of our community requires a lot of self-sacrifice. The ideal is not an easy course, but it holds power that is unparalleled by any other program or initiative.
Jessica Gentry is a striking example of the importance of the family to social health. Two months ago she wrote a viral Facebook post saying that shifts in societal values are manifesting in a massive increase in students struggling in school. She cared deeply for the well-being of her students, but ultimately decided to leave her career as a kindergarten teacher in order to stay home with her daughter. While to some this may seem like a retreat from the challenge of teaching a diverse and demanding group of students, for Jessica it was an act of revolution. She chose to break from the current of societal trends in order to address the problem at its source. She concluded her post by saying:
“I decided to start with my 1 at home… and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home. Because… I really do believe it starts there ❤ I may have left the classroom[,] but I am still advocating for those kiddos. It just looks different now.”
This is maternal feminism in action. If more of us were tuned in to the family as the foundation of society, the world would be transformed. This act of tuning in and responding will look different in each home. All too often women get clumped together and talked about as a unit, but maternal feminism looks at the uniqueness of each woman and her family. For Jessica Gentry work was the best thing for a time, and now the best thing is to be at home. The way that you build your family may not resemble her path at all. You are the author of your maternal feminist revolution.
What does maternal feminism in action look like in your home and community?