Consciously Creating Culture
The Kind of Feminism We Need Now Is Motherism
How we can move forward in the wake of the pandemic, ongoing racial inequality, and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Only one in a series of heart-wrenching blows that are currently defining the year 2020, the latest threat to democracy has just sucked the breath out of every woman and humanist in the country — the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With only weeks until the election and an incompetent tyrant clutching the presidency, women’s rights feel very sharply threatened right now.
The gutting news of this passing comes on the heels of reports of unconscionable mass sterilization of detainees held alongside children in cages within ICE concentration camps. Breonna Taylor’s murderers have still not been held accountable, and yet a lawsuit has reached a settlement whereby her family will receive $12 million from the city of Louisville, KY, funded by taxpayers.
The United States has been on pause for six months, just to fail at curbing the spread of COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected poor citizens and communities of color. The pandemic has brought new force to the movements toward universal healthcare and basic income. Wildfires still rage and small businesses are shuttering left & right, while police budgets are still being called into question, having made little effort towards substantial change.
This year has felt like a million terrible things all wrapped up in one, while simultaneously bringing into focus disparity and injustice — not to mention the gross ineptitude and inaction of governmental figures in the face of real consequences of climate change. No one is immune to these dark times, and those of us who survive them will emerge with fresh, deep, collective trauma. We’re already experiencing the throes of mass anxiety, apathy, dysfunction, existentialism, and grief.
We will all need to heal.
In my gut I feel it’s time for women everywhere to put on their mom hats, and activate their innate, nurturing maternal spirit. Existing moms must expand their reach to include more than only their own brood. Men too, and everyone in between must channel their inner matriarch, offering all fellow humans the deepest of empathy, compassion, and encouragement. We have long been fighting against the oppression of a patriarchal system, but it’s time women made sure that our power is not founded simply in putting ourselves in the position of the oppressor. Feminism cannot simply be about equality. Each of us must find within and spread without that capacity and instinctive duty to care for everyone as if we were all each other’s children.
While not everyone had a nurturing and attentive mother, we can all take the best qualities of a loving mom and bring them to our interpretation of the role, and drive real change through actions we take to better serve our community. We all need each other at our best to get through this troublesome time.
What would your mom, or your ideal version of mom do? She would kiss your wounds, bandage you when you fell, and wrap you in a blanket and bring you soup when you were sick. She’d comfort you and tell you everything is alright when you had a bad dream. She’d inspire you and restore your confidence you when morale hit an all-time low. So too, can we stave off the nightmares with deep, protective nurturing. Everyone has a feminine side; let’s be sure that femininity is defined as the capacity and propensity to offer radical care and unwavering love to everyone in our circle, and even strangers we encounter day-to-day. Be that mom.
While we help each other to heal, we must remember to take care of ourselves too. Even Supermom needs a break once in a while — to breathe, relax, and escape. Be sure to make time for fun, play, and laughter. Bring friends and family into your arms and remember to free yourself from concern every once in a while — try not to get bogged down solely in commiseration and repeating the worries that this year has brought. Check in on those you can’t be with in person, with a weekly phone call or daily texts.
While holding each other — whether palpably, virtually, or metaphysically — and holding space for our collective experience, we can heal together. We can bring this century into balance with Mother Nature, and reconnect with our tribal roles as protectors of our kin. All humans are our family, and as the African proverb goes: it takes a village to raise a child. Right now, we’re facing some of the worst circumstances of most of our lives, and it’s normal and okay to feel small and helpless. Do what you can to offer a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, a comforting gesture; and likewise accept support from others. It will take the willingness and generosity of the whole world to heal itself. We will do so by mothering each other.