Anna Dobler: Mother Pain
What we urgently need in Austria and Germany is a debate about the status of motherhood. Otherwise we will steer deeper and deeper into a childless society.
eXXpress columnist Anna Dobler
While in Germany the advertising ban on abortions is being overturned to the jubilation of left-wing forces and not having one’s own child is being glorified as an act of selfless climate protection, the proportion of those who are childless has risen by seven percent in recent years. There can be various reasons for this, mostly medical or economic, and yet the stories of those affected hardly find a hearing in public debates, which prefer to revolve around women who reject motherhood for ideological reasons. How progressive! How feminist! How modern!
I am also unintentionally childless and perceive the situation as very stressful. From my personal experience I know that very few affected women speak openly about this topic – and not just because it is painful. There is hardly any room for it either.
Because when motherhood is discussed publicly in Germany, it is not uncommon for a pejorative undertone to resonate. On the one hand, it is said that there are generally too few children and immediately the accusatory finger is raised in the direction of academics who are becoming mothers later or not at all. Far too little is said about the reasons why this is so. After graduation, i.e. in their most fertile years, many women work in precarious employment – and very often for a limited period. So you wiggle your way from contract to contract and know that if you get pregnant you have no chance of an extension. So they wait – many until it’s (almost) too late.
Motherhood is, at its core, a selfless act
In fact, this is a problem that is more widespread in Germany. In Austria – and this is probably the leftmost thing you will ever read from me here – you have to be grateful to the Reds for the fact that this whole issue of fixed-term contracts has not (yet) spread so widely in this country. In Austria, protection against dismissal is worse than in Germany, but the majority of employment contracts are concluded for an unlimited period. A circumstance that can offer young women economic security and that also helps employers to retain workers in the long term.
Nevertheless, every woman knows that finding a job becomes more difficult after the age of 30. Because HR managers are not allowed to directly ask about the desire to have children, the topic is approached cautiously via the partnership situation. Because the concern that a future employee could be absent in the first year because of maternity leave is unspoken.
To make matters worse, in the recent, at times hysterical, climate protection debate, a few women have publicly stated that it is sustainable and selfless to give up having a child for the sake of the environment. Such debates reduce motherhood to a selfish act, but the fact that pension security is shaky due to the aging of society and billions in damage is caused is only worth a side note in the media din. In fact, motherhood is an extremely selfless act, and our society should be encouraged to pull out all the stops to increase the birth rate. My suggestion: One-time payments to mothers at the birth of each child of at least 10,000 euros. And this is not a monetary gift, but a government investment in the future of our country. Because, as one hears from pregnancy conflict counseling centers, the financial factor often plays an important role. You have to let that melt in your mouth: In the 21st century, women don’t carry a child to term because they simply can’t afford it. Shameful! A conservative counseling center has therefore offered some desperate women money, which is why there has been a lot of criticism from the left. But if all it takes is a little money to save an unborn life, shouldn’t we all be concerned?
True freedom comes only with freedom of choice
The author Birgit Kelle is someone who deals a lot with the topic of motherhood. In summary, she represents the exciting thesis that the state does not actually want to promote motherhood and is therefore forcing women into a dual role: career and child, i.e. part-time motherhood, which is why the public childcare options are being expanded so that no mother is absent from the labor market for too long remains. The image of the working mother is socially glorified accordingly, so that the role of the housewife seems antiquated in comparison. Women are therefore constantly drummed into the fact that they have to get everything under one roof, and Kelle offensively represents a counter-thesis, which is why left-wing feminists attack her. True freedom comes with freedom of choice, and the truth is that many couples simply cannot afford to have one parent stay at home any longer.
Incidentally, it also doesn’t appear as if western countries are very interested in these issues since a much cheaper method was discovered a few years ago of how to counteract the aging of society. What we urgently need in Austria and Germany is a debate about the status of motherhood. Otherwise we will steer deeper and deeper into a childless society.
Anna Dobler is an award-winning, trained and studied journalist and columnist. After working in Berlin, Munich, Italy and Salzburg, she now lives and works in Vienna. On Twitter, @Doblerin champions free markets and free speech.