Why you’ll never be mom enough
Tits out, ladies!
Unhook your bras and settle in for another battle in the Mommy Wars 2012, kicked into gear ever since Hilary Rosen thoughtlessly insisted that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” And maybe you heard about that Elisabeth Badinter book?
Why, even the New York Times devoted an opinion page to a debate it called “Motherhood vs. Feminism” (this happened, like, a whole week and a half before the infamous Time magazine boob cover, so you can be forgiven for not recalling it).
Yes: motherhood VERSUS feminism, as if the two are mutually exclusive. Please direct your attention to the left of your screen, to the “About Me” widget, for my thoughtful perspective.*
One of the NYT essays is titled “Let’s Not Pass Judgement.” It’s not as good as the piece by Annie Urban, which you really MUST read, but I agree with its sentiment. Women shouldn’t be fighting each other for our “choices”–we should be wagging our shame fingers at the systems that conspire against us, consumer culture and patriarchal capitalism in particular. Repeat after me: class wars, not Mommy Wars.
I’ve been thinking about this not-passing-of-judgment thing. A few weeks ago, a feminist site I enjoy posted a photo on Facebook of the now-infamous Tanorexic Mom, wondering if all the harsh criticism of this woman’s “choice” to fry her pale skin wasn’t antithetical to the feminist ideal of to each her own?
Once again, we must return to the tricky notion of “choice.” This woman chose to change her appearance rather drastically. But did she, really? Let’s ask our frenemy, good old consumer culture. Pale women are told to buy creams and tanning beds to look acceptable. Dark women are told to buy fading creams and treatments (like Photoshop) to look acceptable. It doesn’t take long for these messages to tip vulnerable people into obsession, if not outright mental illness.
Is Patricia Krentcil mom enough? A lot of people don’t think so. For one thing, she is awfully ugly…unlike the lovely Jamie Lynne Grumet, she of the boob seen ’round the world:
Breastfeeding is, of course, a very good thing. Unlike tanning, it has clear health benefits and does not cause cancer. The fact that Grumet nurses her 4-year-old threatens me not a whit. Her defiant stance, however, coupled with the hysterical cover copy, adds more fuel to the already tired notion of breastfeeding as a lifestyle “choice,” and that’s when I get pissed.
I hate to break it to y’all, but nursing a baby is a biological function. Our bodies are designed to do it–but please do not confuse this fact with a moral judgment upon you for not doing it! PLEASE! If you feel threatened by what you perceive to be my judgment, you are going to waste your time battling little old ME, not demanding change from the systems that conspire against a truly family-friendly society.
Suck on this: the United States is one of only four countries in the world that does not offer some kind of paid maternity leave. The other three are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho. The latter country has an annual per capita income of $1600, so I can see why they can’t afford it. The USA, not so much.
Would you “choose” to nurse your child if you had the “choice” to take paid maternity leave? I bet you would. And no matter your skin color, your body size or shape, you’d look damned good doing it.
According to patriarchal capitalism, you are NOT mom enough, and you never will be. You have to hate yourself to buy what they’re selling….tanning packages, magazines, economic systems that trickle down slower than a dried-up teat (and that’s s-l-o-w).
So tuck those boobs back in and start shopping!
*short version: it’s bullshit