Opinion Brief

Is motherhood really Natalie Portman's 'most important role'?

In her Oscar acceptance speech, the pregnant actress suggests being a mom will be her life's pinnacle. Some feminists say that undermines her many achievements

After bagging the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a demented ballerina in Black Swan, Natalie Portman thanked her fiance for giving her the "most important role" of her life — motherhood. (See Portman's speech.) The comment has drawn outrage from some feminists, infuriated by the fact that Portman, a Harvard grad and active humanitarian, would seemingly downplay her achievements by calling motherhood her greatest role. Was that really what Portman meant?

Yes, she suggested that motherhood trumps career: "Is reproduction automatically the greatest thing Natalie Portman will do with her life?" asks Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. You'd never hear a male movie star call fatherhood his greatest role when accepting an Oscar. "Motherhood is important. So is work. And you don't have to backhandedly downplay one to be proud of the other." 
"Is motherhood Natalie Portman's 'greatest role'?"

Maybe, but this is hardly a scandal: Let's "cut Natalie some slack" here, says KJ Dell'Antonia at Slate. It was the Oscars, and she's pregnant and basking in the romantic glow of her prospective motherhood. Soon enough, she'll know the frantic reality of balancing career and motherhood. "Maybe she'll always feel like motherhood is her greatest role. But it probably won't be her last."
"Natalie Portman knows her lines"

How is this even an issue? "The thought that somehow Portman has betrayed the 'sisterhood' by embracing her soon-to-be mom status is a discussion we shouldn't even be having in the 21st century," says Joanne Bamberger at Politics Daily. Feminists, who once seemed to be our allies, are quick to judge when you step off the career track for a spell to be a mom. Doing so doesn't mean you're betraying the feminist movement, and it's time we "recognize that the experience of motherhood adds, not subtracts, from the full picture of being an accomplished woman."
"Natalie Portman's motherhood shout-out gets raves from this feminist"

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