I usually stay away from pop culture news and idiotic celebrities saying ignorant things. But this People magazine article linked on CNN’s website caught my interest. In it, Nick Cannon gushes about how parenthood has changed him and wife Mariah Carey:
For Nick Cannon, the birth of his two children was incredible. It may have been even more symbolic for his wife,Mariah Carey.
“She really knows what being a woman is about now,” Cannon, 30, told PEOPLE recently before deejaying at Las Vegas’s Chateau Nightclub. “This whole journey has been eye opening, she’ll tell you that.” Since son Moroccan and daughter Monroe arrived on April 30, Cannon saw his priorities change immediately, as did his decisions.
“It’s just the beginning, so I’m expecting it to change a little more,” he said, adding that he is “growing every day and knowing that I have to be an example for two lives.”
Le sigh. Fortunately, my head didn’t explode from reading this filth so I’m able to give my two cents on this matter…
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles or seen interviews of celebrities making self-indulgent comments about how life-changing having children has been. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen in which these self-important people gush about having children has forced them to be less selfish–as if they are the first people to discover the experience.
But, I’m always intrigued when men often make comments about how their wives or girlfriends’ lives have been changed by becoming mothers.
Sadly, I can’t act like I’m surprised to see these kinds of comments coming from ig’nants like Nick Cannon. The sad reality is authentic womanhood is still equated to motherhood and a woman who makes the selfless decision to have children are routinely touted as the epitome of what women should aspire to. Unfortunately, many men–and women–like Nick Cannon have shallow, superficial ideals about the role of women in society.
Furthermore, how in hell can Nick Cannon speak for Mariah Carey’s beliefs about motherhood and womanhood (two totally different aspects of life)? When did Nick Cannon and People magazine decide his perspective about what Carey has gone through is sufficient enough to be considered the truth? Did the “reporter” (I use that term loosely) even consider contacting Carey to get *her* perspective on whether or not motherhood has altered her view of being a woman? Considering the probability the author Mark Gray is a male, I can assume Gray did not feel the need to get a *woman’s* perspective on motherhood and womanhood. Typical…
The problem I have with the Cannon’s male patronizing line of thinking is it tricks women into believing that having children will somehow make them whole. No, I’m definitely not saying that motherhood does not change a woman’s (or man’s) perspective on the world. I’m even not saying motherhood is somehow inferior to child free womanhood. You simply can not link one with the other and one should not be tied to the other’s existence.
My problem with Cannon’s statement–and the society’s expectations of women–is it creates a narrow definition of who is entitled to claim the definition of womanhood. Do we tell women who no longer (or can’t for varying medical or biological reasons) menstruate really don’t know what it’s like to be a woman? Do we tell women who’ve lost a child–or can’t have any biological children–that they really don’t know what being a woman because they can’t bear children?
As a woman without children, I take exception to Cannon’s statement because I don’t think me having children will somehow enlighten me on what it’s really like to be a woman. I’m reminded everyday of what it’s like to be a woman:
- when I’m faced with rampant street harassment;
- when I have to live in a society that tolerates and promotes the tenants of rape culture;
- when I am told that I shouldn’t dress slutty if I want to avoid being raped;
- when I make less than my male counterparts who have the same job duties as I do;
- when I’m faced with inadequate and unacceptable maternity leave/care and no on-site daycare at my place of employment;
- when I’m called sweetie, honey, or baby by male counterparts;
- when I’m coerced into taking my husband’s last name because it’s “tradition;”
- when car mechanics want to inflate prices at repair shops because of my cisgendered appearance;
- when I reject the unwanted advances of men at clubs or bars;
- when I’m looked down upon because I make the conscious decision to not have kids, despite no one blinking an eye when my male peers make that decision;
- when men feel they are entitled to access to my body and grab various body parts;
- when other women in my family remind me of my place to cook and to serve food to the men in my family;
- when religious leaders and pastors constantly talk to their parishioners about the role of women;
No, I don’t need to have a child to be reminded of what it’s like to be a woman. Society reminds me of my womanhood each and everyday.