The Mommy Wars Are Anti-Feminist

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I first learned about the Mommy Wars when I was 15.

I was regularly babysitting for a family in my neighborhood and the mother functioned as a frequent target for mommies for miles.

She had three children, all under the age of eight years old, along with a day job. I remember her as being a sweet woman who cringed when people swore, who always came home from work bearing hair product samples from the salon at which she worked. I completed the majority of my geometry homework at her dining room table, listening to the radio after the kids were asleep or thumbing through novels as I awaited the flood of her headlights in the living room. I didn’t work for her long, but the scorn she accrued from other women was something even I couldn’t escape as her babysitter.

She was unconventional in many ways with a face full of makeup and a preference for high heels much akin to Erin Brockovich. Other women never hesitated to rail against the way she dressed, the example that she was setting for her daughters, or her decision to work after having three babies.

Such gossip I would have expected from girls my own age, other 10th graders who mercilessly judged outfits or picked apart other people’s lives, but to hear such judgments from adult women was beyond disappointing as a young adolescent. I was already learning that women didn’t always have such choices when it came to their lives or how they wanted to live. My grandmother never sugarcoated the scorn she garnered from her mother-in-law after letting it slip that she planned to work after my father was born. The 1940s may have been a long time ago, but the criticisms she endured by the women of her era could have easily been uttered by these neighborhood moms. These same comments and snide glances from the playground have never gotten stale as even now, the cultural cage match of Mommy Wars seems to encourage this type of mom vs. mom confrontation more than ever.

Feminism has always promised choices for women and a life not an anchored by gender or sex. And yet, despite all these choices that are now available and becoming increasingly available to women of varying ambitions, personal goals, and lives, every avenue allows for increased judgment. An endless array of morning shows and TV segments toss more gasoline on the Mommy Wars, putting together reports and statistics about who has the healthiest kids, who has the smartest kids, whose kids are more likelier to go to college.

Women are not a one-size-fits-all demographic and the cultural insistence that motherhood should be is anti-woman, anti-feminist, and seeks to cripple women at every turn.

I’m a very privileged young lady to live in age where I could claim stay-at-home motherhood as my choice should I want to. But if I did, all I’d hear when turning on the news is how stay-at-home motherhood is making women miserable, SAHMS are more likelier to be depressed, or that people assumed I didn’t have any brain cells since quitting my job. If I relinquished my apron and went to work, I’d soon be confronted with reports that I buy my children toys instead of spending time with them, that putting my kids in daycare increases their stress levels, and that perhaps my babysitter was making more money than I was.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media doesn’t seem seem to give a fig about the choices fathers make. And while mothers at playgroup are busy wagging fingers at one another about who made their bake sale pie from scratch and who actually spends more time with their kids, men made more money than we did, spent less time with their children overall, and don’t seem to have problems evading parenting guilt.

The many choices available to modern women in all forms should be celebrated, not reduced to cheap morning TV fodder. Every choice that blossoms in our continual evolving society recognizes that women are individuals who merit choices, a concept that is still so new and jarring to many.

(photo: Shutterstock)