Here is a strange, sad article about how one woman’s self-concept as a woman was formed … or de-formed.
The summary goes like this:
Strange as it may sound, the Holocaust education at my school shaped my sexuality and fertility well into adulthood by teaching me that the Holocaust brought about a complete break in the continuity of mankind. In the face of such immense suffering and slaughter, no responsible woman would choose to have children.Susan Martin, “Conscience, Fertility and Holocaust Education”
This seems counter-intuitive. In the face of genocide, having more children would seem like a good way to fight back.
… Unless, that is, you are being told that you, and any potential children you might have, are part of the problem. And that is exactly what girls are being told. For Martin, it was because of the Holocaust (“the inevitable conclusion that humanity was evil and that all women share indirect responsibility for the atrocities”). Today, it’s more likely to be because of environmental concerns, “overpopulation,” or vague, un-stamp-out-able “injustice.”
Martin describes how being told that it was morally wrong to have children caused her to be unhappy with her body when it started developing into the body of a woman. She was infertile most of her adult life.
I can’t say that the Holocaust was used against me in my own education the way it was used against her, and in fact, I still have a hard time seeing the logical connection. But I can certainly identify when she writes,
“It was clear that my emerging sexuality and potential fertility would not be positively received in the adult world” and “We quickly discovered we got more praise from [society] for writing poetry than for pushing prams.”
Martin’s story is so tragic, and it’s yet another testimony to the fact that you can’t devalue motherhood (for any reason) without devaluing women. I have previously posted about it here.