This is our first Mother’s Day with a female Vice President. After four years of a female-groping administration, it feels like we’ve made a turn in the right direction. Ironically, it’s often religions that keep women oppressed, even while women are often more faithful to them. Religions like to claim to have the answers, and for the monotheistic traditions an origin myth with Eve—the first mother—as the first picker of forbidden fruit, has suggested one answer that has held women down for centuries. Taking origin stories too literally can cause so much suffering in the world that we’re confronted with the question of their morality. Religions are for people. If they exclude half the human race we need to pause to ask if we got something wrong. It’s Mother’s Day, always on a Sunday. It’s a chance to think about such things.
Many churches will have sermons honoring mothers today. Will they work for the wellbeing of women for the remaining 364 days of the year? Our society, purely on the basis of biology, routinely puts women at risk and underplays the need to help them when that happens. I’ve seen this firsthand. We’re finally starting to get some female representation in Congress, yet less than a quarter of the seats are held by women. Isn’t government supposed to represent its constituents? Why has half of humanity had to struggle for so long to be treated as equal? Mother’s Day cannot be a salve to ease our consciences about mistreating women for the rest of the year. Equity should not be a goal, it should be reality.
We’ll be thinking about our mothers today. Still under a pandemic, we’ll be Zooming them or calling them. Those fortunate enough to live close may even get to see them in person. These mothers sacrificed a lot to take on that role. Our society could not continue without them. We’re starting to come to the realization, I hope, that it is male-devised forms of government and business that are the problem. They protect the wealth and power of a few. They jealously guard against letting men offer the true justice of equity. Some religions have begun to address the obvious injustice they have largely originated. The story of the Garden of Eden was meant to teach a lesson. That lesson has been abused for centuries as a way of making women seem somehow less than men. It’s Mother’s Day. Let’s see if we can’t learn to read more deeply and apply what we have learned.