Print this out and send it to every young liberal woman you know: Here.
A few of the most poignant sections from Alice Walker’s daughter, Rebecca (hat tip – Kathryn Lopez):
Ironically, my mother regards herself as a hugely maternal woman. Believing that women are suppressed, she has campaigned for their rights around the world and set up organisations to aid women abandoned in Africa – offering herself up as a mother figure.
But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities – after work, political integrity, self-fulfilment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.
My mother would always do what she wanted – for example taking off to Greece for two months in the summer, leaving me with relatives when I was a teenager. Is that independent, or just plain selfish?
I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers. Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely. My mother had me – a ‘delightful distraction’, but a calamity nevertheless. I found that a huge shock and very upsetting.
According to the strident feminist ideology of the Seventies, women were sisters first, and my mother chose to see me as a sister rather than a daughter. From the age of 13, I spent days at a time alone while my mother retreated to her writing studio – some 100 miles away. I was left with money to buy my own meals and lived on a diet of fast food.
There’s also a sad passage in which Rebecca Walker describes her mother accompanying her to get an abortion at age 14. The callousness is no surprise to a growing number of women who refuse to be silent any longer about the heartache abortion has caused them.
Rebecca Walker’s conclusion:
It’s been almost four years since I have had any contact with my mother, but it’s for the best – not only for my self-protection but for my son’s well-being. I’ve done all I can to be a loyal, loving daughter, but I can no longer have this poisonous relationship destroy my life.
I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It’s helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it’s caused for my contemporaries?…
…Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.
But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women’s movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them – as I have learned to my cost. I don’t want to hurt my mother, but I cannot stay silent. I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations.
I hope that my mother and I will be reconciled one day. Tenzin deserves to have a grandmother. But I am just so relieved that my viewpoint is no longer so utterly coloured by my mother’s.
I am my own woman and I have discovered what really matters – a happy family.
Amen, amen, and amen.
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