Why? Why does the media continue to pit these two things up as if they are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum? Oh, right. There’s a new book on the shelves that’s causing quite the ruckus. (Could you describe the ruckus, sir? …sorry for the sidetracking, but really, I’m so over these faux, contrived, mommy-war arguments).
Not only do “debates” like these invalidate well, me, but they also invalidate all the other women out there who also feel that they can be mothers and feminists, and… heaven forbid, feminist mothers.
It seems that instead of fostering important and relevant discussions of motherhood that focus on things like policy, the majority of news outlets use this sort of thing to drive page views and earn higher ratings.
And frankly? That’s bullshit.
Mothers have enough to deal with between mommy guilt, peer judgment, work/life balance, etc… that they don’t need the media heaping on a few extra layers of more of the same. We don’t need more buzz words and sound bytes. That’s not what motherhood, or parenting, is. At all.
This week the New York Times posted a Motherhood vs. Feminism debate. Only, it really wasn’t. There was no real debate, no discussion at all. They shared a handful of essays with varying viewpoints along a spectrum that somehow pitted motherhood on one side and feminism on the other… as if the two must be mutually exclusive. And it should be noted that the Times chose one form of mothering – Attachment Parenting – to stand in for “Motherhood” – so the debate was really Attachment Parenting vs. Feminism, which as we know, is a debate that’s made it’s way around the block a time or two or twenty.
And it’s a shame, really. Because taken out of the poorly contrived “debate” there are actually some really great thoughts within the essays. Perhaps if the “debate” had either a. been framed different or b. been an actual debate then this long, ranty post of my would be for naught.
Of course, the NYTimes piece has spurred a plethora of responses (all linking back to the original post…clearly the Times accomplished whatever it set out to do). Some of which I agree with, and others…not so much (I also feel the need to rectify a very glaring misconception made in the comments of the Feministe piece. Attachment Parenting does NOT “reject female-controlled contraception.” And I say this as a women who practices AP and has an IUD currently taking up residence in her uterus.)
How about instead of pitting women against each other in faux debates that only encourage more criticism, more “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitudes, more defensiveness, and much more judgment, we focus on the issues that really matter when it comes to motherhood and debate those issues instead.
How about focusing on the poor state of maternity/paternity leave in the US and how that is an obstacle to many families in this country?
How about we look at the way fatherhood is talked about in our culture and why men don’t have to answer all of these questions? (Where are the “Fatherhood vs. Whatever” debates? Oh, right, because for some reason men aren’t held up to the same standards and expectations as women when it comes to parenting.)
How about we look at the rising rate of post partum depression and work towards not only receiving more funding to study/combat it but start destigmatizing it as well.
Above all, let’s try and find a way to discuss issues surrounding motherhood where we’re actually trying to accomplish something productive and useful rather than creating clickable titles that only serve to foster a spiral of fruitless arguing.