Why so down on mom?

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.”

via Motherhood – Salon.com.

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.

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11 Responses to Why so down on mom?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention April Peveteaux - Mother'ish Brooklyn – Why so down on mom? - True/Slant -- Topsy.com

  2. monsterofNone says:

    i love that MTP clip so much, the simpleminded way the host uses the language of war in describing how women might control their spouses and male children to rule the world. the term “brainwash” is right out of the korean war, and lawrence spivak uses it as if it would be only appropriate for women to use it to bend men to their evil will.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      monsterofNone –

      I know. It was so shocking the first time I saw it, and so indicative of the time in many ways. I have to remind myself how far women/society have come since he would have been laughed right off the air today.

      • monsterofNone says:

        i don’t know. pat buchanan is capable of saying crap like that fairly frequently yet he maintains a position of honor among the punditocracy.

        but yeah, i guess he’s an outlier, not the host of MTP.

  3. dreamking says:

    Attacks on mothers with kids/strollers, accompanied always with ‘my mother – the madonna – never did it that way’ seem to me to partly be visceral responses to an internal struggle about what it means to be an adult. So many men/women-children come to the city to escape moral judgments and environments where the definition of adulthood has a tighter imposed definition.

    Truth be told, I kind of dial down the impact of women-hatred as a primary cause of this kind of hate. At the risk of sounding paternalistic, there really has never been a better time to be a woman. It doesn’t mean there are no problems or constraints, but the range of options/choices available to women in the technological wonderland that is 21st century Western civilization are several orders of magnitude improved from just 40 years ago.

    Plus the kind of people who tend to have the time to get introspective about this are also the people most with an online presence, which is also where the lack of direct community magnifies people’s worst impulses.

    Compounding all this is the over-reliance on people’s written communication skills to convey their point. (Oy.)

  4. uncertain says:

    There’s a reason for the ‘mother hatred’. Contrary to what’s being said and assumed, it’s not ‘woman hatred’ in another form and it’s not just because the woman happens to be there.

    I’m a mother-hater. If you want to know what it’s about, read on. If you don’t, then go ahead and make your smug assumptions and sleep soundly in your know-it-all state.

    Since all of this reflects on the general public’s reaction to mothers, we’ll concentrate on those aspects of the argument and leave out any personal reasons.

    There’s a number of reasons behind it. I’ll name only a few here so you get the idea.

    Firstly is the sense of entitlement that mothers and expecting mothers seem to have.

    When out in a public place, for example: in a restaurant or on an airplane, mothers with children are the bane of every other person in those places. More often than not, the children are loud, unruly and undisciplined, and may or may not cry, scream, and/or soil themselves, stinking the entire place up in the process. People who are not parents (and probably a good portion of those who are) do not want to be subjected to this. If you can’t control your savage brood, you have no business taking them out in public. Period. There’s no excuse for it, so don’t try to make any.

    Here’s another example, and this one pertains to pregnant women. They often feel like they have special privileges, like not having to wait in a line or expecting me to give them my seat on public transportation. I was on my lunch break one day and went into a store for a 20oz of MtDew and a bag of chips. Two items. Some pregnant cow dragging two other kids behind her cut to the front of the line (right in front of me and my two items) and proceeded to unload two full shopping carts of crap. I spoke up and said that I was next in line and that I only had two items totaling less that five dollars and that I thought it was rude for her to not only cut in front of me, but for the cashier to start ringing her up without saying a word. Everybody in the place looked at me like I just pissed on a bible or something. I really didn’t understand that one. If you’re OK to drag your fat ass out of bed and spend two hours walking around shopping, why can’t you wait an extra 30 seconds in a line?

    How about a general loss of freedom for those of us who choose to remain childless in the name of protecting the children, or because some distraught mother lost a child because of reckless or irresponsible behavior and now feels that the rest of us need our behavior legislated with long jail sentences, stiff fines, and ever harsher penalties?

    How about draconian drunk-driving laws. Mandatory seat belt laws. Laws that say kids have to wear stupid looking helmets and elbow & knee pads when riding bicycles. Parental advisory labels on CDs.

    A big part of the “there oughta be a law” crowd are mothers. They always want more. Stiff penalties. Harsh fines. Long jail sentences.

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The Million Mom March. Mothers Against Video Game Violence. Mothers Against Methamphetamine. Mothers Against Knives. Mothers Against Circumcision, for fucks sake.

    I don’t tell you how to raise your kids.

    Stop telling me how to live my life. You might be a mom, but you’re not my mom.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Wow, uncertain that wasn’t personal at all. (Cough, cough.)

      Ummm…your point is?

      • uncertain says:

        If, after all that, you claim you still don’t know what the point was, I have to wonder why you even ask the question “why so down on mom?” before going on a 2000 word whine-fest about how mothers these days have it so bad.

      • dreamking says:

        Uncertain, what I see here is you coming up with a litany of stereotypes and then mocking them. All that’s really consistent is the tone of anger that seems to run through them all. For what it’s worth – not much – it sounds like you want to have an important conversation with someone specific, and I really doubt it’s April (or anyone else found on a blog).

        No one’s telling you how to live your life, except maybe the person with whom you need to have that conversation.

  5. Ms. Peveteaux,

    I remember watching the very first episode of “Sex in the City” on the very first day it showed. I remember thinking to myself “I wonder what planet this show is supposed to be taking place? Who or what are these bizarre and alien creatures and what is it that they doing. Why would human beings on this planet want to watch this show?” I read the Salon piece and got that same feeling. I guess there really are people like that somewhere on the planet but I haven’t a clue where they might live and there is never a chance that I or anyone I know might ever encounter them. I must have lead a very sheltered life.

    • dreamking says:

      Sorry, I’m kind of lost how/what Sex and the City has to do with what April was discussing. It doesn’t really sound like you do either, so I guess that’s par for the course.

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