Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm calling it: "The Mommy Wars" are over

I've been off my blog lately due to travels and family demands, but I've finally found a moment to sit down and make this call: as a cultural phenomenon "The Mommy Wars" are over. Done. Dead. Time to move on. There are still articles popping up on this topic, but they are starting to feel tired and recycled (like this recent article from A writing professor (Orson Scott Card, for those of you keeping score at home) once told my class that you should never stay in a given writing group for more than one year, because after that you have learned all that you will ever learn from that group of critique partners. That's how I feel about the entire Mommy War concept right now. This is not to say that any work referring to this topic is now irrelevant. A lot of important resources such as The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars by Miriam Peskowitz take a thoughtful and well-researched look at the underlying social issues and policies that control our lives. And while I found Leslie Morgan Steiner's book Mommy Wars to be interesting, I was more usefully provoked by Sandra Tsing Loh's Atlantic Monthly critique of Morgan Steiner's book. (Worth buying the May issue to read it.) I resisted Tsing Loh's message vigorously at first due to her article's title: "Rhymes with Rich: The Mommy Wars, Round 8,679" but when I read the piece all the way through I had to agree with Tsing Loh's point that privileged women need to channel their raised consciousnesses into work that benefits all Moms.

On the page facing Tsing Loh's feature, there was Caitlin Flanagan smiling face in an ad for her new book To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. So what to make of Flanagan? She is certainly getting a ton of media coverage and stirring people up by lobbing grenades of controversy. She is an undeniably talented writer, but after seeing her sell herself out at the cost of all her credibility on The Colbert Report, I decided that I no longer have to take her seriously. I literally felt like The Mommy Wars jumped the shark right before my eyes on the night on April 20th when Flanagan appeared on The Colbert Report. Here is a brief excerpt, in which Stephen Colbert, in character as a right-wing pundit, was trying to see how far he could push Flanagan's defense of her neo-retro position:

SC: Those were the golden days...the time you're talking about...I could have you lobotomized [if I were your husband], just by saying you were unbalanced..

CF: Absolutely

SC: Those are the days you are talking about, when women who needed money had to depend on their husbands, because even if their relationship wasn't good, they weren't independent...

CF: Right.

SC: This is the golden age you are talking about...

CF: Yes, it's an eternal golden age.

SC: So better for you for a woman to be dependent on her husband no matter what the situation is?

CF: Well, certainly you press the point when you put it that way, but...

SC: I'm trying to press the point.

CF: ....and you'll not find any refutation from me. More or less you're on target there.

SC: Really? (incredulous pause)

CF nods.

SC: You are a perfect woman.

CF nods and smiles: I've been told that.

(The Colbert Report, 4/20/2006)

So to really declare The Mommy Wars dead, we have to answer the question, What's Next? For activists like myself who have been waiting for an action-oriented vehicle to appear, the organization we've all been waiting for has finally arrived on the scene, just in time to capture the awareness that the media has created about motherhood and transform it into real social change. Run, don't walk to, created by Joan Blades, the co-founder of, and feminist writer Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. Their new book The Motherhood Manifesto has jumped to #3 on and I say more power to them. I'd emailed them a few weeks ago to invite them to be guests on The Mojo Mom Podcast, and Kristen said they'd come on, but now I have a feeling that I'll need to get in line behind all the major media outlets. That's fine with me--I'll still be here to cover this story!

You can read my complete review of The Motherhood Manifesto on the book's page on This Mothers' Day, you owe it to all Moms to read it for yourself! And if you are wondering where to get all the energy and inspiration you'll need to propel you into action, I'll remind you that that's what Mojo Mom is all about.


Blogger graymama said...

The "mommy wars" I experience are not between the working and stay at home mothers. Theses wars occur between mothers of different parenting styles, who each believe their way in the "one true way." In my view, this dogmatism is what is hindering the supportive and loving mother communities we could have in this country.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I loved Loh's analysis. If you have the economic luxury of debating whether you should stay home or go to work, good for you.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

I don't believe it is the mommy wars, that is just what the media portrays it.
I'm not fighting other mothers just the government so they can value all childcare. Stay at home parents deserve respect financially as well as daycare parents. Unfortunately in Canada they only pay for daycare and not help any parent to stay at home they actually penalize you tax wise.
Nice blog by the way

10:25 PM  

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