Thursday, March 8, 2007

Musings on Motherhood -- an art critique

Given our upcoming discussion about art, I thought I would publish something I wrote last year in response to a piece of art that provoked me to think. This entry isn't about free speech as it relates to our discussions in class. However the artist, protesters and myself have all exercised free speech around the concepts put forth by this piece of art.

Musings on Motherhood

In March 2006 New York's Capla Kesting Art gallery announced that they would be displaying a sculpture called "Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" by artist Daniel Edwards. The sculpture sparked a great deal of controversy amongst both pro- and anti-choice activists because it depicted a nude Britney Spears giving birth to son Sean Preston, on all fours, on a bearskin rug.

The obstetric inaccuracy of this sculpture aside, I was not concerned about the abortion issue so much as the use of Spears as a model in support of motherhood. Following is the response I wrote to this sculpture.

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"Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" by Daniel Edwards could have been a thought-provoking work of art about the beauty of a mother's labor and the pain and sacrifice she endures to bring a child into the world – had it only been based on someone who truly embraced motherhood and devoted themselves to their children, as so many mothers have throughout history. Regardless of whether a woman is a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a work-at-home-so-she-can-stay-at-home mom, the average mother devotes more of her life to her children than ANY celebrity mother ever will.

My mother made sacrifices for myself and my siblings, the likes of which Britney Spears and her fellow prima donnas will never have to make, just to ensure that we were well-fed and well-cared for. My mother, and so many others, went hungry just to make sure that the last food in the refrigerator fed the children. While my dad worked during the day, my mother worked at night to help make ends meet – but she made sure that she tucked us into bed before she left for work and she made sure she was home to make us breakfast before we left for school.

My parents don't struggle anymore and they have made sure that I can achieve a life better than they had at my age, but I learned the lessons of their struggle and they are lessons Spears and most of her generation haven't learned or, worse, have chosen to ignore.

Parenthood isn't something you engage in simply because it's fun or "everyone else is doing it". Children are not dolls. Children are human beings and caring for them is an incredible responsibility. One of the most important jobs we have in life is to give everything we have to guiding them to becoming the best human beings they can be.

I don't say this from a religious point of view or even a pro-life point of view – I say this from the point of view of a person who is tired of watching children be born to those who choose to have them for the wrong reasons. I'm tired of watching celebrities have children as accessories. I'm tired of seeing the young girl whose parents didn't give her enough love choose to have a baby because she believes it'll be the one person in the world who will love her unconditionally. I'm tired of the woman who wants to get married so desperately, she'll get pregnant just to keep a man. I'm tired of the couples in failing marriages who choose to have a baby, mistakenly believing it will bring them closer together. I'm tired of self-destructive people procreating to solve their problems instead of simply holding themselves accountable for their own behavior. The children born of these individuals will simply perpetuate this cycle of self-destructive behavior.

Britney Spears is no model for motherhood. Furthermore, given her life-choices, I question whether her mother is either.

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(For the full story of the sculpture and surrounding controversy, go to CBS News:Clash Over Nude Britney Spears Statue. Photos retrieved from .)

1 comment:

peacemonger said...

Good entry. I would be interested to understand the motivation of the sculptor when he created this piece. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he was trying to illustrate how we put such importance on celebrity by using Brittany Spears as his subject.

I feel very similarly as you on the subject of motherhood. I believe that choosing to be a mother, at least in this day of contraception, should be a choice favoring the child, not the mother. The most selfless thing I have done is to mother my children. My job is to teach them to be good adults. I pray I succeed but it's still a crap shoot.

Whatever the intentions of that sculptor, he did start dialog, didn't he?! Dialog can only ever be a good thing...:)