Around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade last week, the New York Times‘ “Motherlode” column ran a piece by freelance writer Christina Loccke about how becoming a mother caused her to question her firmly-held belief in abortion rights. She believes in a woman’s right to choose but when one of her friends, also a mother, told her she was planning an abortion, part of Loccke wanted to say, “Don’t do this. Please.”
In describing her emotional turmoil, Loccke writes, “My choice was either to be true to myself and my politics supporting women, or give in to my emotions as my friends described their choice.” She chooses to keep her reservations to herself and to be “supportive.” (Hopefully, she shared her concerns with those friends before mentioning them on the New York Times website!)
There is certainly a lot that could be said about Loccke’s essay, but it was this simple line describing the division between her head and heart that bothered me most. Somehow, Loccke believes that her true self is separate from her emotional responses. This kind of dualistic separation of the self into “rational” and “emotional,” and the prioritization of the rational, is at its heart an anti-feminist ethos.
In the foundational work Women’s Ways of Knowing, Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) suggest that the practice of prizing knowledge from an external authority over emotional or relational knowledge developed in concert with patriarchal societies. Other ways of “knowing,” such as listening to an “inner voice” and paying attention to what “feels right”—ways that have typically been associated with women—have been undermined.
Loccke, if she’s a feminist, ought to be more willing to listen to that still, small voice in her soul.
And Christians, if we’re honest, need to acknowledge that God reveals himself through both reason and emotion. After all, when the resurrected Christ spoke with the men on the road to Emmaus, he reasoned with them, explained the Scriptures, and what happened?
Their hearts burned within them.