I won’t lie, I forgot to submit a post by midnight last night, but after class today, I was glad that I had forgotten, because now I have the opportunity to write about a discussion we had in class while it’s still fresh in my mind. As we waded through Anne Allison’s articles concerning obento boxes and the duty of Japanese mothers to provide these to their children, we reached the following quotation from Allison: “Motherhood is state ideology.”
Hold on a second
While I do think there is a lot of truth in this comment, I find it hard to buy into anything that is so black and white. I do not deny that a good portion of what it is to be a mother has been defined through social and cultural means throughout human history, but I feel that this really misses the foundation of this idea of motherhood, Biology. The social norm of women tending to the children rather than the men doesn’t just come from society, but it also stems from how our species, and pretty much every mammalian species (and non-mammals as well), has evolved over the past hundreds of thousands of years; it just so happens that our species has evolved a level of intelligence that we have begun to question why the women play the role of the caretaker of children, but if you look at the biology of it, it’s pretty clear. I believe that motherhood is something that is very much ingrained in the instincts of the females of many mammalian species. Physically the females have evolved to both give birth and care to their offspring, so it makes sense that an instinctual desire to care for their young would follow. This explains why the same has been true for the human species for so long. Motherhood fell open the women because, well, it was normal. It’s how nature made it.
This having been said, there is definitely a social aspect as well. This has more to do with what Motherhood is in various cultures. Whereas the obento box plays a large role in Motherhood in Japan, lunch boxes hardly hold the same significance in America. Due to this, I think that it is ok to say that certain aspects of Motherhood stem from social influences, but the foundation of Motherhood is rooted within the genetics of our species.