Motherhood and Oppression
Since the earliest times, motherhood has been regarded not a choice or vocation but rather a necessity. Above all, it is an obligation which has to be performed by a mother who ironically, has long been considered as the most important person in the world yet is also the least regarded. In fact, this prolonged, unwitting and unfavorable treatment of mothers is an explicit depiction of how people and the society have dictated what motherhood costs. That is, despite the sacrifice, effort and dedication that motherhood requires, a mother, in one way or the other, is inadvertently subjected to life’s prejudices. An in-dept analysis of this confined and restrictive situation accorded to mothers, however, exposes a deeper condition which alarmingly calls for an immediate rectification.
To be precise, it is an unfortunate and undeniable reality that motherhood, which is supposed to be the most valued role, is subjected to manifestations of oppression. Regrettably, oppressive situations have long been rigged against mothers. These conditions include systems, structures and practices which demean and injure mothers and the performance of their significant function. Notwithstanding the circumstances relating to being a mother, she is unfairly forced and trapped with motherhood responsibilities and still ill-fated to experience or suffer oppression.
Additionally, beyond the principle of motherhood as an essential responsibility on the part of mothers is the irrefutable fact that they are still unfairly subjected with oppression. As a point of association, therefore, it is a recognizable and depressing truth that being considered with a least merit and likely faced with oppression are the prices that mothers have to pay.
“The Price of Motherhood,” an Overview
Ann Crittenden’s (2002) book titled “The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued” is a concrete evidence of the long assumed yet eluding reality that mothers are being shortchanged of their true value. Through the perspective of economics journalists Crittenden, mothers’ grievance about how their worth is being regarded was finally proven. The factual literary work served as a clear corroboration that beyond the hypocrisy about the so-called worth of mothers or the apparent significance of motherhood, people and the society continue to put down the condition of mothers who evidently perform the most vital task in the world. This is primarily because of the reality that mothers are not only financially deprived, wherein they are receiving the short end of the motherhood job, but are also subjected to many forms of punishments (Crittenden 13).
These consequences are illustrated by the author in manners that motherhood requires and leave no option for mothers to leave their employments or abandon their professional achievement. Additionally, because of the said maternity obligation, mothers eventually alter their priorities in order to attend to the most demanding position of being a mother.
To be realistic in its approach, the book presented details of studies, various profiles of working mothers such as those working professionally and on their own which showcased the true condition of motherhood and what it cost for mothers to leave their jobs and settle for full-time task at home (Crittenden 14).
In a daring and pioneering literary presentation, Crittenden made the readers realized the clear abuses committed against mother. These manipulations, as written by the author, hinted the oppressive qualities of motherhood such as it is the most underpaid and underrated work. Established from the economic worth of being mother, the book is a moving presentation that despite the agonizing experience, the obligatory nature of motherhood tends to lead mothers to suffer life cruelties (Crittenden).
Faces of Oppression
In an effort to understand further Crittenden’s issue about the price of motherhood, it is worthwhile to discuss first and eventually relate it with Marion Young’s five faces of oppression. According to Sheldon, mothers, just like the other oppressed members of the society are unfortunately regarded as of no use and therefore depend on penalizing government and society bureaucracies to carry on with their lives (Sheldon).
Sheldon explained that oppression is how discriminated people such as mothers are manipulated or exploited by the system society structure. However, an in-depth analysis of the situation of oppression reveals certain communication styles, structure of power-knowledge as well as institutional practices and demeaning conducts. These serve as the attributing elements which when mixed together marginalize and create damages to particular groups including mothers (Sheldon 1).
Citing Young’s five classifications of oppression, Sheldon explicitly discussed the said categories which include “exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence (Sheldon 1). Young stated that exploitation as the first face of oppression refers to the transmittal or movement of the outcomes of the task and main labor of one specific group in the society to the benefit of another group. In her explanation, Young specifically mentioned the role of working women and mothers whose functions are evidently shortchanged. This condition manifests how mothers’ jobs are “unpaid or underpaid” which, in turn, paves the way for the transfer of mothers’ supposed strengths and worth to other groups in the society. Young added that it is through this practice that oppression takes place because in exchange of the discrimination and demeaning practices done to mothers, it is other people such as the male population who are pleased and benefitted (Sheldon 1).
Marginalization as the second face of oppression means the procedure wherein the entire classification of people is forced out from its useful involvement in the life structure of the society. Hence, it is important to recognize this scheme in order to have a transformation from this negative face into a discriminating-free system. The third face which is powerlessness is something that is experienced by people who are short with power or influence (Sheldon 1).
The next face which is cultural imperialism is what Young said how assertive social meanings represent the specific view of a group while at the same time stereotyping one’s set and regard it as the other. Lastly, violence as a face of oppression is the systematic form of hostility aimed at particular group (Sheldon 1).
Judging from the above presentation of Young’s five faces of oppression, it is apparent that the condition accorded to or being experienced by mothers may be related to the first face which exploitation. This is for the obvious reason that mothers, despite their sacrifice of their respective professions, objectives and priorities in life just to be able to perform the most significant job in this world, are still abused and taken advantage.
Oppression: The Price of Motherhood
Oppression as a discriminating conduct accorded to people is manifested in several ways. As such, certain groups of people are bound to experience oppression due to the fact that it is how the people have existed and how societies have operated. It is, therefore, unfortunate to note that the person who is supposed to be considered the most important entity and who is expected to be regarded with high respect is subjected to oppression.
Relating Crittenden’s work with Marion Young’s presentation of the five faces of oppression leads to a reality that oppression indeed is the price that mothers have to pay. This is the resulting condition in spite of their decision to turn away from their previous lives and concentrate on being mothers to their children. As Crittenden emphasized in her book, despite a mother’s decision to stay with her child in exchange of her professional job, she is still shortchanged as well as undervalued and unappreciated (Rhoads). In short, the economic aspect of being a mother is a depiction of how the society consider less her job and contribution.
Similarly as for the Young’s faces of oppression, exploitation serves as the closest comparison to the situation that the Crittenden book exemplifies. Rhoads discussed that abuses to mothers are depicted in the way how they are treated to be useless after they left their professional worlds in order to settle with their husbands and children. Mothers are oppressed, particularly exploited, when after settling to motherhood job, they are treated less as far as compensation is concern and eventually regarded as nobody being no longer a part of the professional work force.
This specific similarity between Crittenden’s book and Young’s faces of oppression is a realistic yet an alarming call for society to look into and address. In particular, the unjust price of motherhood and exploitation as a face of oppression speak of the economic abuse done to mothers. This means that both the book and classification of oppression explain the reason why the domestic unpaid job done by mothers is really not classified as a worthy task.
In effect, since what a mother does is not to be regarded as a job, she does not receive compensation unlike a professional. This factor of not being part of the Gross National Product of GNP is a proof of the economic oppression done to mothers who are treated to be useless and underestimated after settling a job at home (Rhoads 1).
This economic oppression or exploitation was specifically illustrated by Crittenden when she wrote about the difference between Swedish and American mothers. The book clearly pointed out that in financial terms, American mothers are deprive of the advantages provided to Swedish mothers such benefits after giving birth and financial assistance to Swedish children by the government (Crittenden 108).
Meanwhile the Crittenden book differs from Young’s five faces of oppression in a way that the former is specific with its presentation of the disadvantaged of motherhood. The faces of oppression, on the other hand, provided other forms of cruelties that may also be accorded to mothers as well as other oppressed members of the society. This similarity and difference, however, work to the advantage of the two said positions as both the book and classification did not only prove the existence of unkindness done to mothers. The two works also bolster the unfortunate position that motherhood left mothers with no choice but to perform the most significant task yet unfortunately oppressed.
Motherhood is supposed to be the most important task in this world or so they say. However, what people and the society are doing are nothing but contradiction to the main principle of recognizing and uplifting the condition of mothers. If only for the sacrifice they made of leaving their respective professions in order to serve the most important people in their lives, they should not be subjected to any form of oppression. Both the Crittenden book and Young’s classification of oppression concretely depicted the existing treatment being according to mothers. Hence, from the said works where other groups of people and the society can change how mothers are regarded.
While it is unfortunate to note that the most important job is subjected to cruelties and prejudices, motherhood is still to a condition anticipated by the female population. This is because despite the apparent disadvantageous illustrations of motherhood, there are still rewards and joys for being a mother. With this position alone that people and the society should alter their handling of the position of motherhood in order for mothers to conveniently perform this job without the fear of being subjected to oppression or exploitation.
Crittenden, Ann. The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2002.
Rhoads, Roxanne. “Book Review of the Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden.” 23 September 2006. Associated Content. 31 October 2008 <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/62295/book_review_of_the_price_of_motherhood.html>.
Sheldon, James. “Iris Marion Young’s Five Faces if Oppression.” (2007). California Teachers Association. 31 October 2008 <http://www.cta.org/membership/SCTA/SCTA+Newsletter/200702_SCTAnews05.htm>.