Perhaps a post-holiday weekend is not the best time to defend the motherhood. For those of you who had tense moments over the turkey, mom may be on your sh*t list right now. But as someone who has contributed to the mom voice on Babble and well, here, I’m going to add my two cents to the Motherhood piece on Salon by Lynn Harris.
Harris takes on mom (admittedly, white and middle-class) bashing while also defending her Park Slope neighborhood which is oft mocked on Gawker, New York Magazine and by other New York moms who don’t live in the Slope and swear they never will. As someone who doesn’t live in Park Slope but lives close enough to subscribe to their message board, I too have taken a shot at annoying moms online.
Harris rightly points out that now that moms have a voice through blogs, online communities and even with corporations, we’re being told to sit down and shut up. When a particularly strong opinion about being a mom today is published, comments queue up by the thousands taking a hit at any mom who dares to think she and her stroller deserve a spot at the (thrift store coffee shop) table. Harris does scratch the surface about the blatant inequity of those who want to beat up on the modern mom in their neighborhood.
But I still say that when it comes to mother bashing, there’s more going on. Something deeper, more venomous, even more timeless. The level of vitriol is so high, its target so clear and consistent. “What’s very telling is that we are not cursing the husbands who are presumably working all these hours so that they can afford a really nice stroller,” notes former Washington Post columnist and “Mommy Wars” editor Leslie Morgan Steiner, who has written extensively about motherhood. “We are cursing the mothers.”
Because most dads aren’t taking paternity leave, much less talking about parenting. As I’ve said before, the more dads who treat parenting as worthy of discussion, the better it will be for everyone – breeders and non-breeders alike. Otherwise talking about “lady stuff” will get us the stink eye and a slap-down. Not to go all Palin on everybody, but it’s sexism. It’s always been easy to paint women as screeching banshees. Tuning women out has been an acceptable act until very, very recent history. Oh wait, some people still thought that was cool in 2008.
My hope is this backlash against women who procreate is coming to a public head because of the myriad of voices of mothers that are demanding to be viewed as individuals rather than being shoved into one diminishing category. Not unlike the ’60s we’re undergoing a sea change when moms don’t have to stay in the nursery and serve on the PTA, quietly biding their time to fulfill even one of their needs until college or boarding school – whichever. It may not be a new movement, but it’s a vocal one. The difference between 1969 and 2009 is that we’ve got the world wide web where you can find a mom to bond with or bitch with 24/7. Thank god for modernity. And (not to go all Orwellian on everybody) but the more the masses hear a philosophy the more accepting they become. In the case of equal rights, that’s a very good thing, because unlike Gloria Steinem’s struggle in the 1960s and ’70s, no woman will ever have to put up with this bullshit from David Gregory.