Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Move over, moms -- bring on the Auntifa ;)

When I first heard about the "wall of moms" protecting demonstrators in Portland, Oregon (and getting tear-gassed for their trouble), my first thought was, "Good for them!" 

My second impulse was to roll my eyes. Because of course, "moms" are going to save the world, right?  

Does anyone else see the irony that a group of women demonstrating for democracy and great inclusion for people of colour, are doing so under a banner ("moms") that excludes a significant and growing segment of the female population (who are NOT moms and never will be, whether by choice or chance)?? 

So I was happy to see a tweet from writer Jill Filipovic at the top of my feed these morning,  expressing admiration . It's worth reading her entire thread, because she says it much better than I can.  Here's a screenshot of the first post in the thread: 

Among the points Filipovic makes: 

It’s premised on the idea that motherhood makes you more moral, more nurturing, more sensitive to suffering. And also that mothers are usually apolitical, and soft, and non-threatening (until they’re fierce mama bears). In other words, lots of sexist stereotypes to make this work.

She also says: 

It also suggests that women who aren’t mothers have less of a role in advocacy. It relies on the presumed respectability of (white) motherhood for legitimacy.

As you might imagine, she is getting a LOT of pushback in the comments. (Including from some other feminist writers -- who are mothers -- that I respect/admire, such as Jessica Valenti.) Some thoughtful points made, and a few childless & childfree people chiming in -- but still a lot of moms singing their own praises, some self-righteous indignation, and flat-out dismissal ("you're being too sensitive," "moms is just a label, everyone is welcome," etc.). 

My favourite response(s):  ;)  



  1. I'm going to think more about this idea of the presumed respectability of white motherhood... a lot of my anti-racism work is focused around my kids and schools/education as an easy/natural fit. And there's nothing wrong with finding that niche, but I think I maybe need to update my "White Moms For Black Lives" protest sign... Thanks for drawing my attention to this!

  2. Yes, I've seen a few posts recently along similar lines invoking mothers. As you said, it is the assumption that mothers are better. And yet, as I have said many times, the most beautiful souls and the kindest people I know are not mothers - though they might have wanted to have been. I find it all a bit self-congratulatory by mothers - or getting credit for others' actions simply be sharing the same moniker. So I LOVE Auntifa!

  3. Oh my gosh, Auntifa is such an amazing name! I am glad this is out there. It frustrates me to no end when the "moms for justice" thing comes up, when people invoke motherhood as the reason they care, are fiercely protecting the future for their children, are more empathetic and nurturing... It drives me nuts because empathy and future caring and nurturing are not traits that belong solely to mothers. I actually have a post in my drafts about a mom comment I heard on NPR that fired me up. I'm glad this author spoke up. Thanks for sharing!