29 March 2013

Motherhood: A Cop Out to Education

Lorin and I watched Mona Lisa Smile yesterday night. Although this movie made me feel like CRAP until halfway through, in the end I was glad I watched it.

This movie is about a liberal graduate student named Katherine Ann Watson from Oakland State who gets a job teaching art history at a conservative women's college in Massachusetts. Katherine specifically chose to teach at this college because she hoped she could influence the women there with her free thinking. As she gets to know her students there, she sees that the social norm is to get married and have children. Watson tries to convince her students that they do not have to settle for marriage and motherhood and tries to inspire them to do more with their lives.

The reason this movie made me feel like crap (if you can't already tell why from my synopsis) for about half the time was because this teacher felt that marriage and motherhood were cop outs for education or a career. She felt that these women were just settling when they had so much potential for greatness.

This movie took a turn for me when one of the students decided to turn down law school at Yale to get married. In this conversation between Katherine and her student, her student makes a beautiful point about the choice to be a wife and mother:

Student: It was my choice, not to go. He [her husband] would have supported it.
Katherine Watson: But you don't have to choose!
Student: No, I have to. I want a home, I want a family! That's not something I'll sacrifice.
Katherine Watson: No one's asking you to sacrifice that, Joan. I just want you to understand that you can do both.
Student: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.
Student: Not as much as I'd regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart. This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn't say that.
Student: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.

During this conversation, I think Katherine realizes that educated women can and do make the choice to stay home to be a wife and mother. They are not making this choice because of social pressure. They are making this choice because this is what they want to do. 

In the end, this was a great movie with a great message. I know I've touched on this subject before in my "Stay at Home Mom=Not Successful" post, but it's nice to know that issues like this are being addressed in films.   
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