Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mommy wars: 2012 edition or really, we are still on that?

Ah, the age old (and by age old, I mean, in America since the 1940's) question; stay at home mom or working mom?

Are we really still asking this question in 2012? The privilege just drips from this article. Sure, everyone has a dream life scenario, who doesn't? Mine involves a unlimited book shopping spree at a local bookstore, but I choose to dream big. But that dream is usually shattered when the same old tripe is repeated time and again:

"Carley Roney, the editor-in-chief of (and my partner-in-crime on this survey) says she isn’t surprised that women are opting out, given the pressure they face to achieve perfection in all things. “I think it’s all tied up in this Super Woman complex that we have,” she says, “When you’re at work, you’re not giving enough time to the kids, when you’re at home, you’re not giving 100% to the office. Something’s got to give.” It’s no wonder then that the dream of many women is to leave work to raise children while maintaining their standard of living."

Cause it couldn't possibly be that partners (usually men but not always) aren't encourage to pull their own weight? Couldn't possibly be that the childcare system is bottoming out, with parents having to pay astronomical fees? Couldn't possibly be that not every job has flextime or encourages a work/life balance? Nah, let's blame the mother for not being perfect. That's easier.

And the fact is that most of the topic about the so-called "mommy wars" leaves out a critical section; women of color. I, too, was frustrated about Michelle Obama's speech, when ended it with the phrase "mom-in-chief" but I did not examine my privilege. Tami Winfrey Harris speaks to the white feminist outrage regarding the speech here.

She states that "it is impossible for Michelle Obama to occupy the same space in this discussion as her forebears. She is a black woman. While white women have historically been thought, by default, to be possessed of ideal femininity, (sexistly) defined as demure, sacrificing, quietly strong, beautiful and maternal. Black women have not. The picture of black woman as Sapphire; welfare queen; baby mama; ball-buster; unmarriageable harpy who is too black, too fat and too nappy can be seen lurking behind much of the right’s–and some of the left’s–criticism of Michelle Obama."

The whole so called "mommy wars" is a racist and sexist trope that really really needs to die out. We encourage white mothers to be at home with their children, but mothers of color are told to get back to work. Completely and utterly racist and unfair.

We need an overhaul of a lot of systems (childcare, work schedules, etc) but we also need to stop hammering this "mommy wars" bit because it is futile and gets us nowhere fast.

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