Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mom's the word. (Again.)

Normally, I enjoy Jill Filipovic 's writing. I follow her on social media, and her book, The H-Spot, is in my gargantuan to-read pile. But the language used in a recent article she wrote for CNN raised my childless/free hackles.

"Trump's worst enemy: Middle-aged moms,"  the headline reads. Any article that lauds "moms" (or anyone standing in opposition to the Orange One, lol) is going to pique my attention ;)  and the subject matter is interesting and noteworthy: how women are organizing and leading the protests against the Trump administration (in particular/most recently, its cruel immigration policies).

What bothered me was how the terms "moms" and "women" are used interchangeably in the article, particularly at the beginning. 

The lead pargraph:
Middle-aged women have never been treated as an exciting or newsworthy political force. In contrast, young, single women make for sexy stories or examples of nanny-state selfishness. Disaffected working-class white men are treated like the backbone of the country and the true Americans. And the press looks toward young people generally to take the temperature of the country's political future.
Mothers, however, are presented as "soccer mom" voting blocs (or alternately, "hockey moms" or "security moms") -- not as movers and shakers running for office, staffing winning campaigns and even taking to the streets in protest. 
("Security moms"?? -- that's a new one...)  You see the shift there from "middle-aged women" to "mothers"? 
It's not that women in their 40s, 50s and 60s haven't been active; it's that they've been invisible.
Annnnndddd now we're back to "women" again.  Hey, if middle-aged MOMS are supposedly invisible, try try being a middle-aged woman without children...!

The assumption one would draw from these first few lines -- the impression being reinforced here -- is that all middle-aged women are moms. If you're reading this blog, you KNOW that's simply not so:  all moms are women, sure, but not all women (middle-aged or otherwise) are moms. (From here on in, thankfully, the article focuses on "women" instead of "moms.") 

I much preferred Michelle Goldberg's similar piece in the New York Times, "Women Might Save America Yet."

(Let's hope so...!) 


  1. Arrrgh, that's frustrating. I hate when women and mothers are used interchangeably, it speaks to assumptions that exclude people. It makes me feel disenfranchised, like I am an Unwoman because I am not a mother. I can see why this raised your hackles! I'm going to go read Michelle Goldberg's article now.

  2. "Hey, if middle-aged MOMS are supposedly invisible, try try being a middle-aged woman without children ...!"

    Exactly. Argh. And if they're only promoting their cause to moms, they're missing 20% of women who could be helping their cause. Double argh. If I was a Twitter tweeter, I'd have responded to her words with your comment above.