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When ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ Got Me Thinking: Are Women Born To Be Mothers?

Posted: August 5, 2018

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The brilliant show The Marvelous Mrs Maisel had me wondering about this – why is it that we take for granted that every woman wants to become a mother?

So, recently, I joined the Amazon/Netflix bandwagon. Yes, it was too tempting a proposition to be stalled. It brought me face to face with a plethora of TV shows and movies (making my procrastinating ways even worse). As I greedily browsed through the available options, I chanced upon this show called, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’.

And boy, I was hooked. It blew me, more so as I did not expect it to be so bloody good.

The show set in the America of the 50s, starts off with the protagonist Miriam Maisel being abandoned by her husband. Miriam who is your regular housewife is smart and sassy with a wit that is hard to miss. As she vents out her anger at her husband’s frivolous behavior, Miriam unwittingly discovers that she has a knack of becoming a kick-ass stand-up comedian. Instead of wallowing in grief that her husband left her, she goes on to explore this newfound love for comedy and astonishes everyone with her slapstick humour and magnetic stage presence.

Well, my point of writing this piece here is not to review the series but to talk about something that made me think hard and something which I thought was worth talking about. It is rather queer that I could find something of relevance in a show set in the 50s but it also says a lot about the fact that when it comes to women there are certain issues which seem to defy the travails of time.

In one of her stand up acts, Miriam says, “What if I wasn’t supposed to be a mother? What if I picked the wrong profession? If you’re afraid of blood, you don’t become a surgeon. If you don’t like to fly, you don’t join Pan Am. I can’t change my mind and donate my kids to the library, like I’m gonna do with this book. Oh, my God, I’m awful. I mean, women are supposed to be mothers. It’s supposed to be natural. It comes with the tits, right? The equipment is pre-installed. I mean are there exceptions? What if some of us are just supposed to travel a lot? Or run 24-hour diners out in rural areas wearing coveralls? What if some of us are supposed to just talk to adults our entire life? Oh, I never thought about any of this before tonight.”

This was not merely something which struck me as a slosh of humourous and witty lines but something that got me thinking. It led me into thinking that it is not merely a spur of the moment rant but there is indeed some logic to it. It is generally a given that if you are a woman, you ought to be a mother someday. You are sent equipped and fully loaded to bring in another human in the world. Well, I know motherhood is not a profession but, you know what, it is way more than that. If you choose a profession and you fail at it or you are no longer passionate about it, you can shift gears. But, once you are a mother, you cannot go back, even if you fail at being a mother majestically. But, again our society is conditioned in a certain way. Women who choose to forgo motherhood are judged. There is a constant pressure on them to deliver (pun intended).

But, coming back to Miriam’s argument, I can see that it should be absolutely fine to not jump on the motherhood wagon, if you are not cut out for it, if you feel you are not all charged up about the thought of having a tiny baby in your arms. A woman is a human being first and like any other human being shouldn’t she have the right to take an informed call on that aspect of her life which would leave an indelible mark and would reshuffle her identity? Or she should merely do it as she came with a uterus?

Well, before we take this argument any further, let me tell you, that I am a mother to an adorable little girl who lights up my world. I always wanted to experience motherhood. But, if I did, that does not imply every woman would.

There are women who know in their gut that they want children. Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe and the evergreen diva, for instance became a mother to two lovely girls. She wanted to be a mother so badly that nothing deterred her from being one. Being a single mother was not a roadblock for her as she knew where her heart was.

So, I am not advocating that women should not embrace motherhood. All I am saying is that the reason should be more than the fact that you are endowed with the X chromosome.

Image source: a still from The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

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