But there was one of the three (somewhat)-anti-motherhood pieces Salon posted that I wanted to pick apart in a little more detail. Mary Elizabeth Williams' subheading for her article regarding Natalie Portman's acceptance speech reads "In her acceptance speech, the 'Black Swan' star suggests pregnancy trumps a career. She's wrong."
I'm pretty sure that Natalie Portman gets to be the one to determine the greatest role in her own life.
Williams goes on to say:
Any working mom will tell you: They don't hand out prizes for being a good mother. You just do it, with as much love and heart and soul as you've got. If you're lucky, it doesn't diminish you as an artist -- it inspires you to greater heights, as this year's mothers nominated for playing mothers -- Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams and Annette Bening -- probably know. Motherhood is important. So is work. And you don't have to backhandedly downplay one to be proud of the other.I didn't see Portman's comment as "backhandedly downplay[ing]" anything. She gave a gracious acceptance speech for an award she worked hard for. How can motherhood simultaneously "inspire [her] to greater heights" and get marked as a role she shouldn't mention out loud? Williams calls Portman out for downplaying the role of an actress in favor of the role of mother (which I don't think she did), and in doing so asks that she downplay the role of mother in favor of that of actress (and by extension, any other career-minded definition of success).
I love my job. It is rewarding, and in a field that I feel directly makes a difference with issues that mean a lot to me. I'm good at it, and I feel fulfilled when I do it. But I still consider my role as a mother to be "greater." It's greater in many ways. I work eight hours a day. I am a mother constantly. If I decided to quit my job, someone else could do it. If I just walked away from my role as a mother, there wouldn't be a replacement. I am not planning on staying in this job for the rest of my life, but I will be my daughter's mother forever.
Williams says "the comment jarred me, as it does every time anyone refers to motherhood as the most important thing a woman can possibly do." Portman didn't say that, but fine. I know that there was a time when a woman's role as mother was seen as a requirement above all else. A time when women were trapped by that role. And I know that those pressures still exist, but forcing women to deny the way they feel about motherhood is no better.