Who’s Afraid of the Mommy Wars?

Had enough of the mommy wars? Despite the fact that many of us claim to be all done with the slings and arrows, there is no way around the fact that motherhood is incendiary. Newsweek’s article “Enough with the Mommy Wars” is case in point.Mojo Mom takes author Kathleen Deveny to task for neglecting the deeper issues and sticking to the shallow end of mom-theory typified by mommy lit lite. Expecting Executive demands an apology and encourages Newsweek to turn to better sources for the real story on motherhood, including BlogHer. Last week, Kelly wondered if we’ve become narcissist mommies.

But really, what is the big deal? Ms. Deveny commits heresy by claiming she’s bored to death of the mommy wars and the snobbiness on message boards ( the Internet makes mommy mean) as well as the tiresome taxonomy of motherhood represented by mom lit (rocker mamas, MILFs, momzillas, slummy mummies…). I say go ahead and be bored and oversimplify as much as you like. Write about how dull it all is in Times, Newsweek and the New York Times. You’re missing the point.

That the Mommy Wars exist primarily online and in print doesn’t mean they aren’t real. They provide a safer (and less confrontational) outlet for people to yell about childrearing. Just take a look over at the comments generated on Babble by the hospital formula ban and one easily sees what all the fuss is about.

These debates serve a real useful purpose. They help us parent better. They help us articulate and define our positions. They help us understand different approaches and viewpoints more effectively. And yes, they are also silly and catty and petty. But the Mommy Wars are also empowering and enlightening. And that is why I hope they continue for a long long time.

**cross-posted at Babble**


10 Responses to “Who’s Afraid of the Mommy Wars?”

  1. August 14, 2007 at 2:28 am

    When men disagree it’s called a debate. When women disagree it’s a “mommy war.” From the mainstream media, you’d think it was the only thing about which we women have an opinion–besides cleaning products and fashion of course.

    I’m sorry, it pisses me off. It’s so dismissive to label it as such.

  2. August 14, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Interesting… but I’m over them. I just wish the mainstream media had half an idea of the amazing things happening here in the mommy corners of the blogosphere….

  3. 3 karriew
    August 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    I’m kind of over dissecting parenthood period, but I do understand your point.

    For the past couple of years I have participated in an online debate board which is part of a hopelessly mainstream parenting site. You’re dead on that sometimes arguing your position can open your mind to new ideas.

    The problem I have with the way the “Mommy Wars” are portrayed in the media is that everything is either/or. Only rarely do we read nuanced accounts of women who are still in the midst of figuring out their position on important issues and hot topics. I’m tired of constantly having to label myself.

  4. August 14, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Yeah. What Karrie said.

  5. August 16, 2007 at 2:19 am

    I like your point. Alternatively, most days I’m too tired from fighting with my toddler to fight with anyone else.

  6. August 16, 2007 at 4:35 am

    Agree with you and MommaLoves. In another day and age we were accused of having “cat fights.” I guess they think adding “wars” makes it less obvious that they intend to demean?

  7. August 16, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    It’s incendiary, sure. But it needn’t involve flame-throwing, which is what sometimes happens. Thho’ nto nearly so often as the media likes to suggest.

  8. August 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Bossy has enough arguing going on inside her very head.

  9. August 20, 2007 at 7:04 am

    To clarify Redsy, I wasn’t meaning that I think you were calling it a war. My anger was directed at the media.

    They obviously are missing out what the women are doing out here in the world.

  10. August 20, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Interesting post.

    I read the Newsweek article and have strong feelings about it. What purports to be an article about one woman’s disdain for a media-hyped battle between stay-at-home moms and working moms when read closely is actually mroe about the author’s dislike for mommy literature and topics in general. And this I can’t agree with.

    When put up against other best-selling (and often vapid) topics– romance, murder, science fiction– I personally think that mommy topics, including the struggles of modern day parenting and the moments of insight that come with them, are equally interesting. And they’re MORE relevant to me, because I happen to be a mom.Sure there’s books that are poorly written and over hyped. But show me a genre where this ISN’T the case.

    If it’s narcissistic to WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW then every good author in the world is guilty as charged.

    If it’s narcissitic to enjoy characters who are going through similar experiences to yours, I’d say 95% of the reading world should start worrying.

    I find it ridiculous that Kathleen Deveny writes an article in a major magazine in which she implies and in some cases outright states that
    1) talking about being a mom is boring and a waste of print
    2) parenting in this century is uninteresting, at least as it applies to moms
    3) the struggles that women deal with when balancing work and motherhood should be dealt with in quiet, without discussion or comment. It’s “BORING”.

    I absolutely agree that women need to stop tearing each other down for our parenting choices. But I also believe that what we’re doing, whether staying at home, working, or some hybrid, IS interesting. Being a mother is possibly the single most life-changing event that a woman (or man) will experience. As such it IS worth talking about. It IS interesting. And it certainly merits a place in the literary and news world.


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