I gave myself the weekend to move past the latest Time magazine cover and all the controversy it’s created in its wake.
It clearly wasn’t enough. Yesterday I ended up having a mini-rant on Twitter about it all.
I was angry…again. Or maybe I never stopped being angry about it all.
On Friday I went and read my “Are YOU ‘Mom Enough'” post for an Arts Night Out event in town. From the cheers and claps in the audience, I felt a sense of comfort that I was not alone in my anger. But instead of quelling it – it only fueled my fire.
Monday, I woke up to an email from somebody who just wanted to vent a little about it all. Her venting stoked the simmering embers some more until I unleashed it all over Twitter. For those of you who missed it, this is the general gist:
The Time magazine cover is a red herring. It’s out there to create controversy and drum up sales and get people talking. And bravo, Time, you’ve accomplished exactly that. Hell, you were talked about on Saturday Night Live already. Really.
But here’s why I’m still angry about all of this. I understand the need to make sales, I do. I get that Time is profit-motivated – they’re a business, it’s to be expected. However, if they wanted to do a story on motherhood or parenting, I can think of many other controversial stories they could have written about that actually exist, instead of the trumped up manufactured “mommy wars.”
For instance, Time could have done some investigative reporting on why the U.S. is only one of four other countries that still do not have a mandated paid maternity leave policy in place. ONE IN FOUR. (The others are Papa New Guinea, Swaziland, & Lesotho). HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! How are people not enraged by this fact?! Why couldn’t Time have done a story about the real struggles of motherhood in this country? Jessica Valenti had one good response…
Sure, looking at the lack of policies that support parents in this country isn’t sexy, and we all know that sex sells. But before we can trot out controversial covers that as Are You MOM ENOUGH? we need to figure out how to get to a place where mothers are even on the same playing field. Before we arrive at that point, we have no place even asking if they’re playing their best (hell, never mind about the same playing field, we’re not all playing the same game. And how can we? We have no paid sick leave programs in place, no mandatory paid family leave, no realistic health care for all, etc…)
To have Time magazine put up a cover with a woman who chooses to follow child-lead weaning while ignoring how the majority of this country isn’t even in a position to actually make that choice if they want to? That is irresponsible, in my opinion. And it’s distracting. It’s distracting us from the real issues that deserve our anger.
Let’s be honest. This isn’t about Attachment Parenting or breastfeeding. If it was, we would be talking about how hard it is to even promote a healthy breastfeeding relationship in this country. We would be discussing formula companies and all of their advertising money that starts with free “gifts” in hospitals. Nobody is showering breastfeeding advocates with money to go and help new moms who want to breastfeed. Sure there are programs in place – but not enough.
And even then… if we don’t have mandated paid maternity leave, or programs in place to promote/support working women who want to pump, then we’re back to square one. This is not about forcing every mother to breastfeed. This is about offering the equal chance to breastfeed, to offer an equal chance to try AP if that’s what you want to do, to spend some time resting up after having a baby so that when you do go back into the workforce, you can be a productive and active contributor (and not just there because you would lose your job, income, insurance benefits, etc… otherwise).
We have real issues that make our country look like the real enemy in the “mommy wars,” yet instead, magazines and websites are causing women to turn on each other by the words and images they choose to feature. Don’t let them distract you with these red herrings. Let’s focus on the real stuff that matters.
In that vein, I just took on a freelance gig helping a local organization that is fighting alongside others for paid sick leave here in Massachusetts. It’s one thing, but the effects of it can be massive. Start somewhere, but do something. Don’t just let the anger and contempt that has built up over this cover go to waste – channel it into actually fixing some of the issues that parents in this country are facing, rather than the mommy wars that nobody really wants to fight anyway.
And if anyone has a sexy way to sell the fact that we are the last of 4 COUNTRIES that don’t offer paid parental leave – I’m all ears. Really.
UPDATE: Looking for an easy way to start changing things? MomsRising has created an action that basically sums up everything I’e been posting lately re: The Mommy Wars. Check out their letter writing campaign and see how you can help!