You know what else I’m done with? “Mommy wars.” But not in the way you think. Oh, yes, we should all “support” each other. We should all “stop judging.” Support!
Well, wait. Not really. Support’s cool. We should do that for our friends and family and people we meet in need.
But really, I don’t need you to be nice to me. You’re a stranger on the internet. I don’t need your positive Facebook comments, your loving Tweets, your glowing accolades. I don’t even need your supportive glances at the park. I don’t need your approval of my choices any more than you need mine.
You know what I need? An economic, healthcare and social system that doesn’t categorically value male over female.
I need healthcare providers to stop cutting women open unnecessarily to deliver their babies.
I need women of color to receive the same breastfeeding support as white ones (and have equal birthing outcomes).
I need society to start asking why bare tits on magazines are A-ok but my breast flesh while nursing my baby in public is obscene.
Maybe they should stop raping people.
I NEED SOME MOTHERFUCKING PAID PARENTAL LEAVE.
I need recognition that postpartum depression is not bad parenting.
I need poor kids to get the same education as rich kids.
I need “religions” to stop pushing trans gay lesbian and queer kids to their deaths.
I need clothing lines to stop creating heteronormative, rape-culture supporting bullshit onesies.
(Lock your daughters up? Thanks but my boy isn’t a rapist and my girl can doesn’t need your “protection.” Future princess? I’m gonna put my son in that just to see what happens.)
But this isn’t what we see. This isn’t what’s in my newsfeed. All I see is you should stay home, you should work, my formula fed baby is as good as your breastfed one, you’re gonna kill your kid with that homebirth, epidurals are BAD, “are you mom enough?”, why you gotta show your breasts in public, homeschooled kids are weird, girls should dress modestly, THAT DEPRESSED WOMAN SHOULDN’T HAVE KIDS, Brad and Angelina are ruining that she-male kid, and on.
These are the “mommy wars.”
This is society’s depiction of us.
BUT THIS IS NOT US.
The internet curates, strategically hand-picks, and publishes “above the fold” the most divisive, incendiary, poorly argued self-righteous drivel imaginable, all of which can be summarized in one sentence: I am right and you are wrong.
MEANWHILE, WE’RE ALL GETTING FUCKED.
(Hey! Let’s post some stupid article calling motherhood a “hobby” and arguing the semantics of the phrase “motherhood is the hardest job in the world” and maybe the dummies won’t notice that the US of fucking A is THE ONLY DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITHOUT PAID PARENTAL LEAVE.)
If we get them fighting long and hard enough about “covering up” while nursing perhaps they’ll fail to notice that the patriarchy continues to objectify our bodies and determine how, when and for what they may be used.
If we keep them bickering about “epidural vs. natural” maybe they won’t notice that WE CUT THEM OPEN UNNECESSARILY, OFTEN.
Divide and conquer, ladies. It’s an old, old tactic and it works beautifully. If they continue pitting us against one another, they can continue to depict us as a bunch of shit-slinging, illogical “mean girls” WHO DON’T DESERVE ANY ATTENTION BEYOND the “mommy war” click-baiting vortex.
The entire concept of “mommy wars” reduces the real and actual economic, social, and healthcare problems materially affecting the lives of women to a cat fight among irrational, silly females, thereby keeping us distracted from the ways we’re getting screwed while simultaneously reinforcing the patriarchy’s dismissal of our claims.
In other words, MOMMY WARS DON’T ACTUALLY EXIST.
Yes, of course people write self-righteous bullshit claiming their own superiority. But why is that drivel front page pretty much all the damn time?
And the resulting silencing, elision and distraction from the real problems, which we ALL FACE.
But many of us have grown confused, for sure, and we’ve bought the lie, believing perhaps that the “other mom” is the problem.
To those people, I ask: What would happen if we stopped looking at individual choices of mothers and began focusing on the social and cultural conditions underlying those “choices?”
What if every time a woman sat down to boost her position and “choice” to stay home with her kids she examined which factors (and potential privilege) went into that choice?
What if every time we attacked a woman for working we wrote about no paid maternity leave?
What if every time we sat down to write about how my formula fed baby is just as good as your breastfed one we asked ourselves what sort of colonized consciousness bullshit we’ve internalized that makes us so profoundly insecure about our choices that we feel the need to justify them on the internet?
What if every time we attacked a mom for nursing in public we asked ourselves why we think we should be telling women what to do with their bodies?
And before we attack the epidural, what if we examined the culture of birth surrounding us?
And what it means to have power? And freedom?
And be a fucking woman in this country.
Wait. Hold up.
WHAT IF WE JUST STOPPED CLICKING?
What if we just didn’t read it? What if we just wrote the comment: “Not the real problem.”
And moved on. Disengaged. Backed out.
I am a conscientious objector from non-existent mommy wars. (Well now that’s something of a mind fuck isn’t it?)
We’re on a battleground, all right, but we aren’t enemies, and we never have been. Not you, not me.
We’re fighters for damn sure, together on the firing lines, but I don’t believe for a moment we are actually aiming at one another. We’ve been set up and positioned so carefully that it appears so goddamn real, so compelling, one mother against the other, a thoughtfully manufactured reality constructed to keep us quiet, down, subdued,
OBLIVOUS TO OUR OWN POWER.
What happens when we find it?
Turn in unison shoulder-to-shoulder to face the only enemy we’ve actually ever had?
What happens when we stop believing the bullshit, disengage from the delusion of “mommy wars,” lift a giant middle-finger to the whole fucking fantasy? Opt out. Unsubscribe.
Pick up our weapons (or maybe lay them down), fight for what actually matters, and find ourselves, each other, freedom, change, and maybe some damn peace in the process.
So yeah, maybe it is about support. I’ve got your back. Maybe you’ll have mine. Since our feet are on the same ground, we’re fighting the same battle, and can only win it together.
Hey. There are 5 spots left in my May writing workshop.
Join us in learning to write the hard shit that matters.