Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Liberal Press/Mess

Now, I'm no conservative, so you wouldn't expect a rant on the liberal press to come from me. However (and apologies in advance, I have just a few minutes to write and there will be no links--I'll write another post later; we're at Camp Grandma and Grandpa, which means I 'm still the one taking my daughter to the pool in a few minutes, only with her grandma in tow!), what I've noticed is that the national press that really is the voice of liberalism, in it's classic form--I'm thinking here of the NY Times and of the Atlantic Monthly--have been with few exceptions, relatively horrible for any good coverage of issues about motherhood, fatherhood and parenting. The NYT we know about. Yesterday on the beach I was reading through the AM (I know, I should have stuck to Harry Potter, which everyone else at Menhaden Lane seemed to be reading). One article, by Sandra Tsing Loh, reviewed a recent memoir by a mother who's one child had died, horribly, and young, of cancer, and after, she left the other three children with her husband and the au pair, and ran of to writers colonies in northern california, where she also met the love of her life, married him, and now sees her kids mostly during the summer.

That's her story. And though STL puts some barbs as well as sympathies into her retelling of it, I will leave her story as that, as one that is hers.

The problem comes in when STL suggests that this is the modern paradigm for motherhood, that perhaps we don't need to be the custodial parent, and perhaps that's the solution to the problem of having kids and having time for our careers and creativity.

Okay, there's a few more pieces here. The AM this month, clearly having decided that tales of affluent motherhood are the way to reader's hearts, had another piece, about single mothers who use sperm donors. Now, I've read versions of this story before, but what fascinated me was that in both pieces, the only mothers that matter are ones who are affluent, have lots of mobility, are well educated, well appointed, and exist within a certain post-sex and the city fantasy of womanly life. Hey guys, wasn't that just a tv show? Are our urban centers really filled with Mirandas and Carries? If so, how come I don't know any? And really, what about the rest of us moms? Clearly we don't show up on the reader/audience radar for this sector of the liberal press. And the crazy thing--it's not like women like me are so far off from their stereotyped reader--I mean, I'm well educated, socially mobile and all the rest. If I'm not even included, then we know how truly narrow the imagined mother/reader is.

That's one piece of the whole. The other comes here. I joined the organization Mothers & More several months ago. I think it's important to support motherhood organizations--all of them, and I've been very pleasantly surprised. I know that M & M has a reputation for being a bunch of midwestern stay at home moms, and I'm here to report that nothing can be further from the truth. Each day I receive in my email inbox a digest from their POWER loop. Very often this includes lots of links to articles in newspapers around the country that have something to do with motherhood. And here's what I've noticed. Our nation's papers do cover motherhood, and they often do it much better than our premier newspapers. I've read short articles about whether there's a mothers movement, updates on work/family arrangements, reports on chambers of commerce and business communities that are trying to roll back FMLA, and on and on. As Rebel Dad says, the Boston Globe has actually been quite good on fatherhood issues. So out here in America, beyond the narrow class confines of the Times and the Atlantic Monthly, we are getting some of the info we need. And of course, Mothers Movement Online has been diligent beyond our best imaginations about collecting all of this in one spot each month.

I know from writing the book that it's not the classic liberal or democratic voices that are helpful on motherhood issues, and that makes it more interesting for those of us out here to be very creative in how we work to create change and improved structures for family lives.

Ok, the pool calls, my daughter calls, packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches calls. Links and more later, spell and grammar check too. Tell me what you think.


tracy thompson said...

As someone who used to inhabit the rarefied world of the intelligentsia media you're talking about (the Washington Post, in my case) I can tell you that an occupational hazard of such jobs is that you end up never leaving the building to report anything. Added to which, your co-workers all tend to be extremely affluent (compared to the rest of the country) and well-educated. You get "tips" from each other. Throw in a desire for some offbeat angle, and you get the kinds of stories you're describing. The smaller papers tend not to be so class-monolithic. That's my theory, anyway

NoTONoEagles said...

Help Mommy, there are Liberals! underneath my bed!!! (No, seriously, that's the name of the book...) Don't believe me? The dang thing's on Amazon, not some hippie-press bullcrap ;) Anyway, thought you might enjoy, pinko ;)