This morning over at the local DC news site TBD.com, sex and gender reporter Amanda Hess listed "The Six Weirdest Gender Moments of the 2011 Oscars." If I knew what a "gender moment" was, I'm pretty sure my list of weirdest would include whatever was transpiring between Melissa Leo and Kirk Douglas. But Hess was outraged that Best Actress winner Natalie Portman thanked her fiancee for giving her "the most important role of my life" (i.e. motherhood):
Portman is obviously proud of her and Millepied's forthcoming human production, but she's also at the very height of her career as an actor. It feels a little icky to use that moment to reinforce the primacy of a woman's gender role.
And it's not just Hess. Over at Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams took great umbrage at Portman's belief that motherhood is the most important role of her life. Really:
At the time, the comment jarred me, as it does every time anyone refers to motherhood as the most important thing a woman can possibly do. But the reason why didn't hit until I saw the ever razor sharp Lizzie Skurnick comment on Twitter today that, "Like, my garbageman could give you your greatest role in life, too, lady."
I honestly don't think these women are joking. What's hilarious is that Portman didn't say that motherhood is a choice every woman must make or a calling that all people must recognize as the most important thing any woman could ever do.
My husband and I are both writers. But only I was asked, after the birth of our first child, to write pieces about parenting. When I told a friend this, she asked me if female doctors are supposed to become pediatricians after their children are born.
Anyway, while I absolutely love motherhood and always have, the topic hasn't interested me as much as it does some other women. I'd still much rather write about economics than motherhood.
Maybe these cries of outrage would resonate more if we were talking about Margaret Thatcher and not Natalie Portman, whose acting range and roles leave a bit to be desired (awards notwithstanding).
If you are a mom and you honestly think that filing that brief, or filling that prescription or playing that ballet star is a more important role than gestating, birthing and raising your own child, that, to me, is "weirder" than the reverse.