I have done something I thought I never would. It has turned out to be a good lesson in
Hold judgement until you have walked in someone else’s shoes
When I was researching the experiences of student mothers in the United States of America (and there are a quite a more few studies coming out of the U.S.A than elsewhere) I was struck by the seemingly common practice of ‘maternal invisibility.’
This is when women downplay, or even hide, their maternal status in order to fit in with the culture of their institution – which tends to be devised by, and for, the average white male. Student mothers reported that they practiced ‘maternal invisibility’ in order to be taken seriously and to not come across as not ‘focused’ or committed to their studies. They felt by hiding the ‘mother’ part of themselves they would be seen as more competitive and equal to childless students. I don’t know about you but when I first heard about that my reaction was one of shock mixed with a bit of “Well that’s not going to get us any further, is it?”
I take the opposite approach. My quest and desire for a more welcoming and supportive culture for student mothers means I am ALWAYS talking about my kids and how motherhood and education play together nicely in my life. By that I mean the way siblings play – best enemies but generally happy to have each other around.
So what have I done? Or should that be not done? I have decided not to publish a post I had written about a recent experience I had where I was discriminated against professionally because of my maternal status. And I mean in a big, big way. In an illegal way.
The reason I am not going to publize it? Well, this is a small town and at the moment I am not in a position to rock the boat too much but…my aim is by this time next year I am going to edit this post and lay down the whole story. By this time next year I want to have found my feet as a renegade who pushes for mothers’ rights and hopefully my research findings will start making their way across the desks of those who push the buttons.
So, until then I will leave sleeping dogs to lie or lying dogs to sleep in this case…and wait.