I am officially sick of the mommy wars.
This thought occurred to me while I was reading a conversation on Salon with noted novelist Meg Wolitzer. She has a new book out, called The Ten-Year Nap and it about … oh, let’s say a group of moms so we don’t have to discuss it any further. I normally enjoy Wolitzer’s novels but hearing about this one set off a wave of absolute revulsion.
Let me be clear. My feelings of revulsion were not for Wolitzer, who no doubt remains an excellent novelist. My disgust was with the subject of the book itself. I want the mommy wars to go away.
I — like many of the warriors of this never-ending internecine battle — am a child of the 1970s, the ultimate “live and let live” decade if there ever was one. Yet the spirit of acceptance I grew up with seems to be rare thing in the world of 2008. Yes, we pride ourselves on our acceptance of sexual and racial diversity but when it comes to life choices that differ from the ones we ourselves have made – well, that’s a different story. At that task, our record is dismal and our public discourse reflects our failure.
I could turn to all sorts of examples here — the invective of the pro-religion and atheistic forces for one another comes to mind real fast — but since the mommy wars sparked my fury, I’ll stick with my subject du jour. Why on earth do commentators ranging from Caitlin Flanagan to Leslie Bennetts feel they have the right to judge someone else’s life and deem it a lesser form of living? More to the point, why does anyone give them the time of day?
After all, there are real issues out there worthy of discussion. We can talk about how the work world seems increasingly hostile to working moms or anyone else who values a life outside of paid employment, with jobs increasingly dividing up between those that offer a 50 hour plus work week or irregular shift work with few or no benefits. We can talk about the maternal wall in employment, and ask why women who have children earn less than their childless counterparts. We can talk about how little support society offers most families.
But let’s not discuss the mommy wars any longer. Not only is the subject insulting to the vast majority of moms who don’t feel they have a choice about whether to work or not, it’s a distracting waste of time. See that list of issues in the last paragraph? We need to turn our labors to solving them. And let’ s face it ladies: Every time someone brings up the subject of the mommy wars — even if it is in the guise of helping us all out – they’re making the job harder.
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