Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mommy Wars Again

As I prepare to do some speaking engagements this spring, I've been musing over this question: I published "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars" nearly a year ago; has anything changed in a positive direction for women and men who as parents seek choices other than being totally out of the workplace and public life forever, or continue to work fulltime? Are we moving? Are we moving in a direction that takes us toward more real choices? Toward more support for families? Toward support that also supports our full humanity and potential?

This morning's Good Morning America replayed Mommy Wars again, pitting Linda Hirschman against the creators of Total 180 magazine, the new mag for professional women turned stay at home moms. And as usual, it's one thing to have women talk about their different paths in life. It's another to ignore any structural reason why moms leave the workplace. It's another to ignore the fact that mothers move in and out of the workplace and they need more support in not losing ground each time they do. But none of this story gets in. It's the catfight, each time.

So, no. Not a lot of progress on that front. We still don't have a show where one corporate executive is confronted by parents who want to work humane hours but can't, and the CE has to explain why the company is so rigid. We still don't have a show that brings a Senator in to be faced by moms and dads who want affordable quality daycare. No, it's mommy wars ala 1985 all over again.

We're not yet moving forward.


Sandy said...

Wow, could they possibly find two more extreme viewpoints that have clearly shown their inability to see the bigger picture?

On the plus side, every time something like this airs, I'm seeing (mostly on the Internet, but also in the NY Times letters to the editor last fall) more and more people pointing out the problems that this either/or dichotomy hides. Nine years ago, this wasn't there at all (and your book wasn't there to point people towards). So there has been *some* progress.

CateNate said...

It will make you sadder to look at the GMA message boards on There are 8402 posts thus far in response to these past two mornings. I've read through a lot of them. And the saddest part is that the Mommy Wars continue on those message boards. There is an occassional voice calling for supporting all mothers, no matter their choice to work inside or outside the home, but the majority of the posts are offense and defense on the stay at home mom versus the mom at work. Of course, the purpose of the GMA segments wasn't to help move the discussion along - it was just to get ratings. As usual, Miriam, I am grateful for your succinct dismissal of the GMA drivel. I've been trying to organize my thoughts on the subject, but have been far too apoplectic after hearing Linda Hirshman "live" and reading the message boards.

Lone Star Ma said...

Amen. I recommend your book to everyone because I really think it shows us just what we as a society need to address...but not much progress yet. Last time there was a primary season, I wrote a resolution about counting caregiving in the GDP and supporting it as a necessary and valued part of the economy and submitted it to our precinct caucus for the party platform; it passed at our precinct but I was not a delegate further up and could never find anyone who knew what happened to it. I'll try again this year.

Susan said...

I found the GMA feature interesting in that it illustrated how deeply the 'Mommy Wars' are a creation of the media: when Diane Sawyer pressed the 'stay-home' mothers to tell the working mother what she was 'missing,' they refused to engage with her. It seemed that if those three women could have talked without Sawyer egging them on they would have found some significant common ground.

I was also intrigued by the way Debbie Klett, of Total 180, was lumped with the stay-home moms; apparently working FROM home is not REALLY working. I don't know what to make of that.

Other than that, the whole thing made me want to scream.

Lauren said...

The "interview" has very little substance, surprise surprise. Just a tired rehashing of Linda Hirschman's judgemental claims about stay-at-home moms wasting their time. She has "statistical evidence" that kids are OK if their mothers work full-time. I'm so impressed. I'd better run out and get a job now.

Yawn. ABC must have a blank spot in their programming. After all, there's nothing newsworthy going on in the world right now, is there?

Anonymous said...

I find it very contradictory for Ms. Hirshman to criticize women for their choice to stay at home. I thought the whole idea behind the feminist movement was enpowering women to make choices. I guess that feminists only support choices made according to their agenda. My sister has a degree from RIT and chooses to stay at home with her daughter and is expecting her 2nd. She and her husband make sacrifices so that she can be home. I would love to be in her shoes but unfortunately I must work at least part time.