When I was writing my book Sisterhood, Interrupted, I knew that my manuscript submission deadline was to be but an arbitrary end. I could have kept writing and writing and writing. Because mama drama (Chapter 5) is a story that just doesn't quit.
In a recent issue of The Daily Mail, Rebecca Walker writes, "My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution." Rebecca is a colleague of mine, and a peer. She contributed an essay to my anthology Only Child. I'm saddened to hear, as she reveals in The Mail, that she's having trouble conceiving a second of her own. But publicly blaming her mother, and through her mother, flaming feminism, seems extreme.
Like Rebecca, I'm starting my journey to motherhood later. Had it not been for feminism, I might have stayed married to a first husband who was wrong for me (we divorced). Had it not been for feminism, and more specifically, the Pill, I might have conceived in my early twenties, a time when I was still growing up myself and would have failed miserably at motherhood. And let's face it: had it not been for feminism, I would not be a writer publishing feminist articles and books--including some that question and critique the movement's hot contentions and debates.
Like Rebecca, I too have had my share of conflict with my mother. We've screamed, fought, brought each other to our therapists, and duked it out. My mother is not a famous feminist, and to be sure she's been ever present in my life--perhaps unlike Alice Walker in that regard, according to Rebecca's account. My mother was overly available, and therein our troubles began. As one of the writers in our Only Child anthology puts it, sometimes we onlies can long for neglect.
Yes, my mother-daughter troubles were of the fixable variety. Perhaps Rebecca and Alice's are not, and perhaps it is unfair for me to even compare. The personal is by all means political; when your mother is Alice Walker, no doubt those boundaries are bound to slide. But when Rebecca writes that "Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families," I fear she is revealing far less about a movement and more about herself.