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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Facebook Feminism

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to this article, which argues that women who post pictures of their children on the Facebook profiles (instead of pictures of themselves) are subverting their own personal identities. I'm fairly new to Facebook, but as someone who has posted pictures of children as my profile picture, and as a self-proclaimed feminist, I do have some thoughts on the subject.

First, I think it's a matter of sheer practicality that many women have pictures of their children as their profiles pictures. In my family (and I would guess that this is pretty common), I am the chief photographer. Hence, there are many, many pictures of the children, very few of me. I do currently have a picture of myself on Facebook, but I had to crop Ella out of it. (If you look carefully, you can see her arm.)

Second, I've noticed several of my male Facebook friends have pictures of the children in their profile pictures, so at least in my corner of the world, this is not a uniquely female phenomenon.

The article also maintains that mothers' conversations tend to revolve around children far more than men's, and I suspect that in many cases this is true. But I also think that the conversations between men that I overhear are pretty boring and stupid. I'd rather talk about kids than golf.

Even so, I do think there is still a cultural expectation that mothers will be more involved in their children's lives than fathers. When Ryan is alone with the girls, he gets lots of compliments about being such a good daddy; if I'm alone with the girls, no one says anything about me being a good mommy.

Among my circle of friends, most of the daddies are pretty involved with their kids, but I think this is pretty rare. And uninvolved fathers don't get nearly as much criticism as uninvolved mothers do.

Biology can be pretty difficult to overcome, and biologically, mothers tend to have a more intense connection to children, especially infants. Furthermore, feminists who don't accept the important role of motherhood are missing the boat. One of the ways women can have the most influence in the world is through motherhood, and it's dangerous for us to undermine or downplay the importance of motherhood. For me, feminism is all about choices. We should accept women who are powerful in the workplace, but we should also accept the fact that for many women (myself included), motherhood is an important part of our identity. And at least for me, becoming a mother so completely changed my life, it's no wonder it's a big part of my identity.

If I put my children's pictures on Facebook, it doesn't mean that I've lost any sense of my own identity; it just means that my children are a part of my identity.

Or it could just mean that my children are far cuter than I am.

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