“The feminist point is that sex is central to women’s oppression. It is through heterosexual desire that women are fitted, and fit themselves, into their subordinate roles in relation to men… It is women’s lot to serve men, to see no alternative to their subordinate roles in relation to men, to gain access to ‘human’ status only through men, and to embrace that as their own identity.” - Denise Thompson, Radical Feminism Today
Many mothers in our circumstances are heterosexual and as much as we respect the work of feminists in general, its not something that a lot of us can relate to. Some of us have new partners, or on the dating scene. We are confronted with both positive and negative experiences. There has not been a women I have met in this movement that has not been able to recall a time in their life where they had a positive, respectful relationship with a man.
Where the mothers movement and feminism meet is upon the understanding that there is a lot of violence against women more than against men and in all too many cases, her only escape is the local morgue. Sadly, the efforts to stop violence against women rarely mention mothers who make up a majority of the statistics. Even the image of violence against women is abstract. It often depicts a single women, but rarely a mother having to endure this with children. In turn, the rest of the community are ignorant as to what actually happens to mothers with children in domestic violence, and sadly they endure the most. If she is able to leave and makes it to a refuge, the family court may view that as "instable" for the children. If she is suffering from trauma, she may be deemed unfit to care for them. If she was permanently disabled, she will be deemed unfit to care for them. What a lot of people don't know or even expect is that the children in most cases will be allocated to the man who destabilized, traumatized and disabled their mother. Most credible research on family violence proves that children are mentally impaired from witnessing it and in most cases they are likely to be subjected to it themselves.
As family violence began behind closed doors, it ends behind closed doors of the Australian
Family Court. Most cases expose children to ongoing violence and trauma without respect or consideration of children or mothers lives. Addressing these issues is the heart of the mothers movement. Its not about representing just mothers, but acknowledging all victims of family violence as a unit that needs to be protected. Their relationship that needs to be respected. When a mother becomes persistent at requesting protection, the courts interpret these actions as a challenge to their power and in turn deal harsh decisions where the mother is restricted to supervised visits whilst the perpetrator retains full custody of the child. These are the problems that the mothers movement seeks to address and something we have done mostly alone without the support of feminist groups and organisations. Alot of us have at least one male family member, sometimes a son that we deeply care about that assists us in reality checking as to whether we truly have stepped on other peoples rights in our course of actions.
Another myth is that because we champion mothers causes, is that we will help abusive mothers. This is where the mens movement continually fails. The whole reason why we do what we do is because we are deeply opposed to violence and child abuse, learning a mother has abused her child is just as abhorrent as any case and there are no excuses. Many of us who have struggled so much to protect our children cannot relate to women that have abused them. We are women who love our children very much and want nothing more than for them to live a life free from family violence.
So if you expected the mothers movement to be something else, I know you will be disappointed.