Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mother's Day - a feminist idea

When most of us think of celebrating Mother's Day, we think about reservations for brunch, bouquet of flowers, and cards.  Oh, and of course, our mothers and grandmothers.  We take stock of our relationship with them or lack thereof.  We think of ourselves as mothers or step mothers or other mothers like aunts, friends or sisters.  We tend to feel honored, sad or maybe indifferent on this day. In any case, this day is an opportunity to think bigger than ourselves, as mothers of our society.

Mother's Day in the United States was brought to discussion with the writing of the Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, a feminist, in 1870.  Julia also wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Being a feminist meant that women had a "responsibility to shape their societies at a political level". The Mother's Day Proclamation was a response to the deaths and injuries of the sons as result of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

This Mother's Day amid our plans for food and company, maybe we think about and talk about our roles as mothers of our society. 

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

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