Since the very beginning there has always been debate over feminism, especially in regards to reproductive rights. Women have long fought for their rights to be equal and make choices regarding their own bodies. For many women, motherhood has stood for submissiveness and dependency to men. Women sought to be independent and in charge of their own lives, able to go against society’s stereotypical ideals of women remaining in the house cooking and cleaning. They wanted to go out and wear what they wanted and do what they wanted.

When 3rd wave feminism came in the 90’s counter-cultured scene, women secured their idea of not having to bear children or ‘breed’ in order to maintain their womanhood. They re-defined themselves and what it meant to be ‘feminine’.

This is all fine and dandy until we reach the early 2000s. There was so much controversy over judging those who chose not to have children, but what about the other side? Those who chose to bear children or keep their babies rather than abort after getting pregnant at a young age, also face criticisms from similar parties. There seems to be this assumption that either women will have an abortion or men will stick around or that if they don’t, women will abort by the fault. Neither of these assumptions should be made.

My daughter Sophia and I
Feminists pride themselves on having fought to have “choices”. Key word, “choices”, not just one choice, which seems to be something we’ve forgotten. Women have the right to pursue whatever they want, yet even women who fought to have choices still stereotype against those who have decided to have children.

Many women who get pregnant nowadays face the stigma of either being deemed a good mother or a bad mother. It seems to me that the parameters in which society sets as standards of a woman fit to be a mother are drastically unrealistic. If you’re poor, you’re unfit. If you’re young, you’re unfit. If you’re counter-cultured, you’re unfit. If you’re uneducated, you’re unfit. The phrase, “new momism” dictates that in order to be a good mother, a woman must devote all of her time, energy, and attention to her child. This is not so.

I for one, was 15 when I got pregnant. Though foolish of me to assume I was capable of adequately understanding consequences of having sex and though I did not ever see myself as a mother, I got pregnant. I was very against the idea of killing my unborn child, an innocent being who did not willfully decide to grow inside me. The father abandoned the both of us, but I loved our child nonetheless, even if we hadn't met yet. I made the decision to keep my child and I feel punished for it. I, like anyone would, still wanted to receive an education beyond high school. So I did. My daughter is now 3 and I am now 20 years old and am close to entering my 3rd year at a private university and I fully intend on moving forward to getting my Master’s degree. I also work. Yet, everyday, despite me taking care of everything, am judged for being a 20-year-old Punk mother. I get told I made a poor decision in not aborting my daughter by other women my age as well as older women. I get told I made a poor decision because it resulted in me acquiring stretch marks and loose skin, thus making me undesirable, by both men and women. Since when did it become a norm to murder children regularly just because they’re not born yet? And since when is it ugly to create human life? It seems to me that feminists today are being biased.

When I got pregnant, I was homeless and all the odds were
My daughter Sophia and I
against me, but I didn’t give a rat’s ass. I knew that I was in it for the long haul. I got a job and I went on independent study in order to finish a year of high school in one semester. I quit alcohol and drugs and I did what I had to do, period.

After I had my daughter, I was a happy new mum and I was fairly confident in my ability to make it in life despite this hurdle. Of course I was the only one who thought so. Everyone, especially my family, tried to bring me down. Constantly telling me that I’m never going to make it and I might as well drop out now. Telling me I will never balance having fun and raising a child. And after a while I started to believe them. I would feel depressed every time I looked at my daughter, doubting my abilities as a mother, and regretting my choices.

As time went on, I realized they were just a bunch of a*** trying to bring me down just because they were envious of how far I’ve come. I began to realize that they were wrong and that I was capable of supporting my own child and going to college and still having fun with my friends every so often. The fact that I’m struggling isn’t a sign of failure by any means. I never had much good happen to me in my life. I lived in piss poor neighborhoods, got arrested all the time, and got drunk with my father every night. I have come so far from where I used to be. In fact, if it hadn’t been for me getting pregnant and having my daughter, I’d probably still be snorting cocaine in an alley way. I love my kid. Nowadays when I look at her, I see a smart, beautiful little woman. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a damn thing. My daughter and I make due any way we can and we are perfectly content with the way things are because we know things will get better and we will make it in life despite what everyone else thinks.

Yet, 3 years later, people still have negative things to say.
Ashley Young and her daughter, Jade Rojas
insist on putting me down in any way possible. My family still ridicules me for being a young Punk mother. Telling me I should “dress like a mother” because my current appearance sets a bad example and my daughter might end up dressing like me. So what? My kid is free to do as she pleases. She dresses herself. She loves the colour pink and dresses girly and plays with barbies. That’s her choice. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

People always ask me how I do it. I get up every morning at 4am in order to make it to Otis from Oxnard by 7am. My grandmother watches my daughter while I go to school. I do homework every second that I’m not in class or working. I then on a daily get home around 11pm, put my daughter to bed, then I do homework for another couple of hours and go to sleep for 2 to 4 hours. Then I get up and do it all over again. It is possible to overcome adversity and it is possible to overcome the stereotypes subjected onto you. Feminist or not, motherhood is a choice, a choice that should be respected rather than discriminated against. We all need to take a moment to realize that life is full of different people who lead different lives and make different choices. Motherhood isn’t a curse and it isn’t something to take lightly.

Gender politics and gender roles were not created by men alone and motherhood has not been a role simply imposed on women by men. Both genders are responsible for discriminatory stereotypes, contributing the the distortion of feminism in general. And both genders need to take responsibility for mending the distortion we created.



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