The fight is real, but mommy wars are not

by Janelle Hanchett

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!

Fuck 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 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.

I need women to get paid the same as men for doing the same damn job. I need more females in science, technology and engineering.

I need my daughter to not be complimented on her “thigh gap” (why is that a thing?) while girls are told they can’t wear leggings, and the media laments the ruined football careers of RAPISTS.

Maybe they should stop raping people.

I need brown and black boys to live in the same safety and freedom as my boys. I need children of color to receive the same education and healthcare as white ones.


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 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.

And on.

And on.

These are the “mommy wars.”

This is society’s depiction of 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.


(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.


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 didn’t read it? What if we just wrote the comment: “Not the real problem.”

And moved on. Disengaged. Backed out.

Conscientious objector.

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,


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.




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Join us in learning to write the hard shit that matters.



63 Comments | Posted in I'm going to get unfriended for this | March 30, 2015
  • Mary Anthony

    Hell yeah! Preach!

  • Andrea


  • Sarah

    This is beautiful. And amazing. Thank you.

  • katie

    I’ve enjoyed your blog, but you got me with this one and I don’t think I’ll read in the future. I am tired of being told I’m down-trodden as a woman. I have far out earned many of my male counter parts and although my husband is in a highly technical field I make nearly as much as he does in a much less highly paid industry.

    I don’t think we will experience equality until we take responsibility for our lives, our actions and their outcomes. I work hard and am rewarded. This theory also goes for the other down trodden groups you refer to. I am raising two black children and while I am certain they will experience racism, I will do all in my power to ensure they understand their value lies not in what others think and rather in who they are and what they choose to do with their precious years on this earth. I hope they don’t choose to accept the opinions of a minority of our population and take the best of themselves out into the world to create their own success. I pray they don’t allow these experiences to create an abyss of bitterness as seems to permeate so many groups. Everyone seems to have an axe to grind.

    There are unfair circumstances in EVERY walk of life. My white boy is going to struggle more than any of my kids because he was adopted out of a drug addicts home and experienced a great deal of trauma. He can lie down and decide it’s too hard or he can become the best his circumstances allow, but that will be up to him and I believe that is the responsibility of each of us no matter our circumstances.

    • Brigitte Wallace

      Structured inequality and white male privilege is absolutely real. And I get so excited when you write about it.

    • Emily

      I’m glad that your son had enough of a sense of responsibility to get himself out of that drug addict’s home and into yours.

      • katie

        Thanks, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He was 4 years old when we adopted him from foster care.

        • Carly

          I think that was Emily’s point.

          • katie

            Ahhh…missed that it was sarcastic.  The specific point about him was that if you judged him solely by his gender and color he would be guaranteed a charmed life. I don’t know where he would have ended up if not with us, but I still think that while there may not be fairness in situation or outcome in America, we each have our circumstances that we have to deal with.  I don’t think the attitude of lamenting all of the difficulties you face (whether real or imagined) will help anyone to live their best life.

    • Elizabeth

      Couldn’t say it better than Katie. I don’t feel down-trodden or dismissed by the patriarchy. I do not believe this intense anger and bitterness brings anything positive to a person’s life.

      We have catastrophic health problems in our family, a different set of unfair circumstances.

      “He can lie down and decide it’s too hard or he can become the best his circumstances allow, but that will be up to him and I believe that is the responsibility of each of us no matter our circumstances.”

      Thank you for your words. Whether you’re creamed on this blog or not for them, they resonated with me.

    • Rosa


      I am going to keep this real brief.

      White privilege is real.

      You are living it.

      I challenge you to expand your world view beyond what you ‘think’ you have control over, for yourself, for your children.

      • katie

        I never said that white privilege wasn’t real. However I intend to teach my black children and white children about history and do my best to help them understand their intrinsic worth regardless of what inequality may or may not exist. They can be bitter and become a self fulfilling prophecy or they can prove the bigots wrong.

        • Rosa


          I think we are all on the same page here.

          Apparently, you do not believe in apathy either? GOOD. I am glad you are fully owning your power…or are you?

          I think you are reading only anger and bitterness, whereas, many of us are reading a call to action.

          Activism; in which you are already participating. I think you just need to go a step further and mentally own it instead of seeing yourself outside of the struggle. Sure, it may be playing out a little different for you but you are fully participating, you just don’t see it that way.

          • katie

            I think you hit the nail on the head for me. I take issue with the fact that for some reason we all feel we have to be pissed off at something and become an activist all the time. There are issues I an “activated” by, but the perceived struggle for equality based on superficial factors (race, gender, etc) are not up there for me. The world will never be “fair” and the only way to deal with the struggles that each person will encounter in life is to make the best of what you have. I go back to my white, male son. Just because he is a white male he should soar through life based on these criteria. Noone would eve know by looking at him the struggles he has and will face. Should the world change to accommodate him? Not in my opinion. His circumstances are his alone and he will own the outcome (we of course will guide him). Why is it always society’s job to even out the path for everyone? When are we responsible for our own actions and their consequences?

            • katie

              PS -sorry about the typos (for some reason I can’t really see what I type after I type it)

            • Rosa

              Ah, you do not believe in Activism?

              Yet, you are an advocate for yourself and your children. You have also willingly used established power systems to achieve your goals. SCHOOLS, FOSTER CARE, YOUR JOB
              …I bet you vote too, huh?

              Why do you think America has one of the largest prison systems in the world? Many are being turned for profit!

              Wake up sister! There are no closed systems in this Katie.

              You adopted, that tells me you do believe in the struggle. You are invested in the betterment of society after all.

  • sue wozniak

    Loved it! Thank you. I will use #NOTMYWAR
    Hope your first writing class goes well so you will do a second one
    Then I can sign up.
    Keep telling it like you see it

  • Holly

    Fucking. Preach.
    Thank you.

  • Katy

    Oh, wow. Can we be friends in real life? I found myself cheering as I read this. Yes, yes and yes.
    I am a woman working in a STEM job and paying other people handsomely to care for my kids because one income doesn’t cut it, I’m also a woman who was forced into a terrible, scary, medicalized birth with my first and went all natural for #2, I’m a loud advocate of education around birth choices, I’m a mother of a daughter and son who were both nursed openly and with little regard for the sideways glances, but also given formula on the regular, I love that you gave this a voice. Infighting is not the problem. I know you don’t need or seek any approval, which is a very powerful platform from which to share a message, but know that this is the best thing I’ve read all day. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, you come take a nap at my house. Transcendent yoga optional. 😉

  • Anjie

    crap. My son totally has a ‘lock your daughters up’ shirt. Now I feel bad. Time to
    Get rid of it I guess.

  • Danielle Barnsley-Cervo

    Can I get an AMEN!? Fuck yeah!

    • Dan


  • carah

    I have called his Mom Shaming from the moment i pushed out my first. It pisses me off so bad. No matter what choice a Mom makes… there is someone out there that does things different… and when they talk about why there way is better… or they put down what the first mom is doing… its SHAMING. Why can’t people just make decisions about their parenting style because thats why they believe in and move on. Why do they have to shame other moms for doing something different. Focus on your kid….

    Except vaccines… get vaccines. this is the ONE scenario that is proven to affect the WORLD… not just your kid.

    • Sara

      Yes!!!! Vaccinate!!!!!!

    • Laurie

      Hmmmm …. yet another example of “I’m right and if you do differently, you’re wrong”. So sad and judgemental.

    • Laurie

      Hmmm …. another example of “I’m right, and if you don’t do what I do, you’re wrong.” People who don’t vaccinate are way more accepting of people who do, than vice versa. It’s a very hard decision that requires much research and soul searching. Sad for this to be another area that people beat each other up over.

  • Sarah

    Very well written as always, Janelle. I love you.

  • Dan

    Hells yes. A big fat A-fucking-men.

  • Holley

    Yup and a hearty AMEN.

    Thanks for typing what I have been thinking for years.

  • Emily

    I think you hit the nail on the head with “don’t click”. Vote with your dollars, vote with your clicks. Stop creating a demand for bullshit content and weird, rapey onesies.

    • Emily

      Also, heard your spot on OBM. Love those ladies, love your blog.

  • jaana

    oh my gosh. on. point.

  • criis


    developed not civilised ?

  • Jenn

    I love this.

  • waterbelle44

    This is amazing. Thank you so much for writing this. Would that every woman could read this and take action.

  • Beck

    Had yet another totally bizarro mommy-war-esque experience on the playground this afternoon and then came home to [drink a glass of wine and] read this post. Well done. You saved the day. I think I will try to work this into the conversation next time something like today’s playground episode happens again. Thanks for the tools.

  • Laura

    And there you have it. I’ve totally been sucked into meaningless battles about “my choices” versus “your choices” as a mom and wondered why something (or everything) felt so off and stupid about it all. This post is powerful and just RIGHT in pretty much every way. Thanks for opening my eyes so I can see the bigger picture. I feel like spreading this message could change things for a lot of people out there.

  • Espy

    It’s simple divide and conquer and it can’t work if we don’t let it. For the poster up above who doesn’t feel downtrodden, that’s great, but it’s pretty hard to see how she could imagine her experience is universal. Mothers get even less respect than in the old days; it’s a travesty. Good on you, Janelle, for chumming the waters.

  • Shannon

    I formula fed my kids and had one elective c section. Why? Because. That’s why! I hate that everyone expects me to bust out 5438 reasons why I made those choices. Or any of my life’s choices for that matter! Idc why you breastfed. I’m just happy you fed them at all! We could literally change the world if we’d all just realize we’re working towards the same goals. Mostly, just not raising kids that are assholes.

  • Carly

    Really thought-provoking and so much truth in this.

    I couldn’t care less how people raise their own kids. Unless, of course, they’re abusing them. Homebirth is a bit of a murky area for me, but at the end of the day, everyone has to let their own conscience be their guide.

    Vaccinating, like the above poster mentioned, is another thing altogether as it’s not just a parenting choice but has wider repercussions to the wider community.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    For the first time ever – I don’t know what to say about this.
    I’m not sure if I overwhelmingly agree with you, or if this is just another way to “battle” the social media’s “mommy war”……

    I have to re-read this, and think more on it.

    I do however agree with the “don’t click” thing.

  • Emily

    I needed to read this today (or any day)!

  • Lesley


  • Diane

    The thing about cutting women open to have babies got to me because about 75% of movie stars have C-sections. I always wondered why. I decided it must be because they have simultaneous tummy tucks…..would doctors allow a women to submit to major surgery out of vanity? I guess so. In the UK they have a saying “….to posh to push!”

  • Liz

    Thank you for your open, audible, articulate rage. I am a mother of three-divorced/remarried-artist still second guessing my life and choices even as my children are becoming adults. We must not make enemies of one another–yes, rather shoulder to shoulder and to the real point of the actual problems in the world. Thank you for your uncensored, unapologetic voice. Solidarity.

  • Cassidy Stockton

    Oh hell yes. I’m in! #notmywar

  • Mel

    At the risk of offering a supportive comment on the Internet – fuck yeah!

  • Arco

    The only reason some women are paid less for the same job is the likelihood of them requiring a few three month paid leaves is greater than that of a man. Also, many women in the workplace will put work second to their child. I once worked with a woman who every time her kid had school called off for snow, she’d call out. This meant we had to cover her work. Only a fool would pay someone like her as much as someone who was there and only called out when legitimately sick.

    • Jessica

      Surely this is an April Fool’s joke, right? What is she supposed to do? Leave her kids home alone when school is closed? (which is against the law in most states). Parents don’t have nannies/family on speed dial readily available to babysit whenever their kid is sick or school is closed. We have to take days off to care for our children when these circumstances arise (and hopefully mom and dad can take turns). Ask any man or woman who put their work before children what their biggest regret is in life. The answer is usually that they put their work first.

    • Angela

      There are many studies that control for situations where a women’s choices could legitimately impact her earnings. The fact is that, on average, even childless women will make less than male counterparts with equal experience doing the same job.

    • Espy

      I doubt many reading here are old enough to remember the old days, so I’ll stand up and do my duty.

      Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s – maybe even earlier, I wasn’t around before then – white collar men with families were ROUTINELY paid more than single men. It was UNDERSTOOD they had pressing needs that single people didn’t have. No one complained about it at all.

      Back then. for all our past, present and future faults, we valued families and children. No one would have had the NERVE to complain that some poor mother was taking time off to have some imagined FUN with their sick and miserable child. No self-respecting single person would have DARED question how hard parents work, 24/7/365.

      Employers have gone nuts. Single people have gone nuts. Read Cornell West’s “The War Against Parents” to see why and the ramifications.

      And meantime, Arco, wtf are you even doing here trying to feel good about yourself while totally looking like a psycho troll? Obviously didn’t notice the one requirement for posting: try not to be a dick.

  • Sasha

    I take issue with the idea that women are being persuaded to have CSections unnecessarily. I’ve had 3 kids –natural, then CSection, then VBack. I want to say that I was supported in all three of these very different scenarios. I had to have a C for my second baby because she was breached (feet first). And then the vaginal birth after Caesarian was treated as a no big deal. No one was forcing their agenda on me.

    • Kanake

      Sasha, that’s great that you had support with all of your choices! Just because you did, though, doesn’t mean that all women do. I personally was pushed towards a c-section with my first and faced doubts when I was pushing for a vbac (including my doctor who said she’d consider and let me know if she’d let me try… Let ME try with MY own body). I know many women who struggled with the same thing. But I am glad you didn’t experience it.

      I agree with this 100%.

  • Angela

    Thank you for writing this Janelle. The Mommy Wars are just one of so many other distractions in our culture that have the effect of crowding out most of the mental energy that might be otherwise used to notice the gross inequality perpetuated by our government institutions and corporate power. This article was a good reminder for me to conserve my time and energy for the things that really matter to me.

  • Gaby

    There’s a movement going on to do just this! Check it out: Real Moms Unite!

  • Rachael

    While I totally agree, can we STOP USING THE WORD WAR?! #realmomsunite movement to STOP the war shit!

  • Claire

    thank you sooooooo much for this!

  • Jessica

    Just discovered your blog today. you. are. awesome.

  • Justin Credible

    What a bunch of drivel — you don’t NEED any of the shit you say you need..

    Mind your own business.

  • Carrie

    I’m SO TIRED of the “C-section shaming.” If you want to opt-out of the war, then don’t try to start a new one. Beautiful, healthy babies are born from C-sections everyday. It really shouldn’t matter to anyone else how a child was brought into this world, just that the child is healthy and loved. WHAT SHOULD MATTER MOST IS THE KIND OF MOTHER YOU ARE and believe me, whether or not you delivered via C-section has nothing to do with it.

    Other than that point, I feel you sister!

  • Lynette

    Hello from Australia. Just had to,say I am constantly amazed that USA doesn’t have any paid parental leave as yet. Raising our future is the most important thing in the world and we get such a short window when they’re little to do it in.

  • ThisIsNotTheLifeIOrdered

    You may not need my positive feedback but here it comes anyway….

    I can’t decide whether to nominate you for President of NOW or The U.S.

    Neither a job I would yearn for but boy how I love how your brain works!!

    Thanks for the insights. I’m enjoying them immensely. Keep up the good fight!! KOC

  • Emi Ralph

    Three years later and this is still perfect as fuck, Janelle.

    I just shared this post on my @WildCopperMoon Facebook page. Had to.