Celebrities Speak Out on Motherhood

Women face an undue amount of pressure and judgment when it comes to motherhood — the choice of whether to have kids, when and how to have them, working after having them, and how to raise them. Everything is seemingly up for scrutiny, from the hours mothers work to the way they children wear their hair.

These famous and powerful women aren’t immune to criticism, and they have spoken eloquently against double standards and sexism when it comes to women and their choices around motherhood. Here’s what they have to say.

The Double Standard

The Double Standard

Women face an undue amount of pressure and judgment when it comes to motherhood — the choice of whether to have kids, when and how to have them, working after having them, and how to raise them. Everything is seemingly up for scrutiny, from the hours mothers work to the way they children wear their hair.

These famous and powerful women aren’t immune to criticism, and they have spoken eloquently against double standards and sexism when it comes to women and their choices around motherhood. Here’s what they have to say.

Being More Than a Mother

Being More Than a Mother

“There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist — whatever you want to be — and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

Beyoncé in an interview with Out

A Culture of Guilt

A Culture of Guilt

“There is an unspoken pact that women are supposed to follow. I am supposed to act like I constantly feel guilty about being away from my kids. (I don’t. I love my job.) Mothers who stay at home are supposed to pretend they are bored and wish they were doing more corporate things. (They don’t. They love their job.)”

Amy Poehler in her book Yes Please

 

Missing Out’ on Children

Missing Out’ on Children

“If you want to know what’s in motherhood for you, as a woman, then — in truth — it’s nothing you couldn’t get from, say, reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn; drinking whisky with revolutionaries; learning to do close-hand magic; swimming in a river in winter; growing foxgloves, peas, and roses; calling your mum; singing while you walk; being polite; and always, always helping strangers. No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it.”

Caitlin Moran in her book How to Be a Woman

Politicizing Breastfeeding

Politicizing Breastfeeding

“I think women’s bodies are so sexualized that we really can’t do anything with them. You have to constantly negotiate with the world of what can you show or what’s too much or what’s appropriate. And, you know, something like breastfeeding, I mean, you know, it’s a really important thing and it bonds you to your child and it nurtures them and it nourishes them and it’s something that has to happen, so why does that have to be so politicized? Why do we have to sexualize women’s bodies to the point where we can’t even feed our children?”

Margaret Cho in an interview with NPR

Working Moms vs. Working Dads

Working Moms vs. Working Dads

“When a couple announces that they are having a baby, everyone says ‘Congratulations!’ to the man and ‘Congratulations! What are you planning on doing about work?’ to the woman. The broadly held assumption is that raising their child is her responsibility.”

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In

Opting Out of Fertility Treatments

Opting Out of Fertility Treatments

“When we found out that [getting pregnant] was going to be difficult to impossible, it really was a choice to stop. I feel like I wanted families, couples to know that it was a valid choice not to get on this crazy merry-go-round of IVF and tens and tens of thousands of dollars. I’m in a business where people who do what I do for a living can afford that stuff, but most people can’t. They mortgage their homes and they break themselves…. And I wanted people to feel — men and women — it’s okay to say, ‘I love my marriage, I love my life, I choose not to have children.’”

Aisha Tyler in an interview with HuffPost Live

What ‘How Do You Juggle It All?’ Really Means

What ‘How Do You Juggle It All?’ Really Means

“‘How do you juggle it all?’ people constantly ask me, with an accusatory look in their eyes. ‘You’re fucking it all up, aren’t you?’ their eyes say. My standard answer is that I have the same struggle as any working parent but with the good fortune to be working at my dream job.”

Tina Fey in her book Bossypants

Combating Criticism

Combating Criticism

“The question [is] why I would LET [my daughter] Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith on Facebook, after facing backlash for her daughter Willow’s style

Hollywood’s Bias for Parents

Hollywood’s Bias for Parents

“My husband and I do kind of the same job, a little bit. Not long ago we both had one of those magical days, we call it a junket, where we both attended these lovely events where people come in every four minutes, they ask the same questions over and over again, you know the drill. We got home at night and we compared notes. And I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, and this is true of the red carpet here tonight at Elle, asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ And he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the t**s on the ‘Blurred Lines’ girl, which, for the record if we’re talking about them, they are real and they are fabulous.”

Jennifer Garner at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event

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