07 Apr Stigma of Motherhood
As a mother of four children, I have had a twenty year internal battle of balancing my personal and spiritual feelings in regards to being a mother versus how society views me as a mother. Recently a series of research studies found that women who breastfeed are viewed as less intelligent. Yes, it appears that society views women who are nurturing and performing motherly duties as somehow “dumber and less competent than other women.”
This is ridiculous – but it’s not surprising as industrialized countries tend to value independence and work over community and nurturing. Even my friends who are working women say that once they become a mother they feel that they are less valued at work and viewed as less competent, and the only change in their life was that they became a mother.
These particular studies were conducted among college students – half male and half female – all who had a friend or relative who was breastfeeding. So, the results are somewhat surprising. College students are renowned for being “tolerant” of just about any behavior. So we’re left to wonder how strong the bias against nursing moms is in the general population.
The perception that women who breastfeed are less intelligent is the exact opposite of the reality – the data that shows that breastfeeding moms tend to be more highly educated women, are more financially stable, and have good jobs with maternity benefits.
I believe that motherhood is a sacred role and a beautiful gift. It has a divine purpose not only in the family structure but for the whole community. The nurturing role of a mother can mold individuals who become an asset to the community, and without this role it can produce adverse effects on the community.
It seems a major education effort needs to take place in regard to not only the benefits of breastfeeding for both children and their mothers, but a campaign focused on the crucial nature and role of motherhood. Instead of devaluing motherhood, mothers need to be correctly viewed as hard working, intelligent, contributing, members of society who are molding the greatest asset that a society has – a generation of children who have been properly nourished, loved, and nurtured. There is no more important task.
Go here to see some statistics on the benefits of breastfeeding – not only to children, but to their mothers.