Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Importance of Motherhood is a Bad Thing?

Natalie Portman accepted her oscar on Sunday night for her role in Black Swan. During her acceptance speech she thanked her love for giving her "..the most important role of her life". She didn't flat-out say it, but everyone is assuming that she meant her impending motherhood. Natalie is about five months pregnant with her first child.

She also thanked her parents for giving her life and allowing her to pursue her career at such a young age. Natalie seems to be out of the norm by surviving fame and hollywood from a very young age. Most child stars don't fare very well. Natalie has never been in the headlines like some such as the kids from Different Strokes, Danny from the Partridge Family, and very long list of others.

I found Natalie's speech to be very touching and seem to come from the heart. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me. Mary Elizabeth Williams of Slate is very insulted that Ms. Portman believes that motherhood will be her most important role.

When you're pregnant, especially for the first time, there are a lot of amazed and awed moments in between the heartburn and insomnia. But is motherhood really a greater role than being secretary of state or a justice on the Supreme Court? Is reproduction automatically the greatest thing Natalie Portman will do with her life?
Portman has a degree in psychology, so I don't think she is qualified to be either Secretary of State or a justice on the Supreme Court.

Why, at the pinnacle of one's professional career, would a person feel the need to undercut it by announcing that there's something else even more important? Even if you feel that way, why downplay your achievement? Why compare the two, as if a grueling acting role and being a parent were somehow in competition?
Natalie at no time undercut her achievement. She very specifically said how grateful she was to have her acting career and talked about her love and passion for the work.

This is yet one more example of the feminists of the world downplaying the importance of motherhood. Motherhood is the most important job you will ever have and saying so is nothing to be ashamed of. This is not to say that women should never work, it is just saying that bringing up a child and helping that child to realize their own potential and to grow into a happy, healthy and well-adjusted adult is very hard work and yes, sometimes you will have to give up things in order to do it correctly. Once you bring that child home from the hospital you have made a choice to be the best parent that you can be, and if putting your professional career on the back-burner at moments is a small price to pay.

What is so sad about this article is that author even uses examples of other actresses who have achieved success and are still home for their children; Annette Bening, who was also up for best actress against Natalie. Annette has been very open about the fact that her four children come first for her.

"I have all these conditions on which I can work,"
Obviously she has found a balance that works for her children and herself. Julia Roberts now has three children. I remember hearing an interview with her saying that the ability to stay home with her kids was her reward for working so hard when she was younger. She has still made some movies since the birth of her kids. Kate Winselt and Reese Witherspoon both won Oscars after having children. That doesn't mean that they put acting before their children. It just means that they have a support system that allows them to pursue their careers and raise their families.

This isn't even the age-old battle of the stay at home mom versus the working mom. This is an all out attack on motherhood as a whole. I agree with Jackie Kennedy when it comes to motherhood

If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much.
I find this whole thing especially rich when you think about the movie for which she won this award for. In Black Swan, Natalie plays a ballerina that is self-destructive mainly due to a mother who put her daughter's career ahead of her well-being.

Cross posted at PotLuck


PunditMom said...

I'm one feminist who totally defended what Portman said in my post at Politics Daily. :)

Just a conservative girl said...

I read that. Kudos to you. But I also noticed that you went after Huckabee.

We both know he was not talking about Natalie Portman spefically. He was talking about single mothers who don't have the money she has been able to make.

You know the stats for single mothers as well as I do, and they are not good. Far too many of those kids end up living in poverty. That was the point he was making.

We need to start telling young women the truth about what happens when they bring children into the world when they are not old enough and not ready for them.

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