7.20.2006

Girl fight!

Bet that grabbed your attention, it always does. And sadly there seems to be a never-ending pipeline of women ready and willing to engage in the battle. Witness Amy Sohn (and yes, I think if you're going to hit her articles or blogs you should get there via Mr. Nice Guy's rejoinder), a writer for New York Magazine and the latest to bag on SAHMs, with more vitriole than most.

I am so tired of journalists with flexible schedules tirading against the evil of unfulfilled SAHMs. These are women who evidently chose well for parenthood, because there's a model for working at home, for working part-time, for having some balance in work and the rest of life. I'm not saying journalism is an easy field, or that any mom can work part-time and advance, but at least it's not bleeding edge to work from home, to create a scenario in which one needs just two days of childcare each week. Ms. Sohn has her foot in both camps, and as a result she can't really pretend to understand the pressures of either.


Yet she's inspired to rake SAHMS and their (our) children over the coals with so much hostility that she's either in need of the meds she so derides, or she's angling for a book deal with a naked desperation that is uncomfortable to watch.

Babies/children [of SAHMs] pick up on all of this neurotic energy and grow up to be really disturbed individuals, totally incapable of making decisions on their own. They don't play with other kids; they just play with Mom. They don't learn how to solve problems on their own or fall on their ass or all the things they're supposed to learn because Mom is constantly shielding them from danger.

Really disturbed individuals? And you are?

This Mommy Wars crap continues to get published for two reasons: our society has an unquenchable thirst for chick fights, and mainstream America is totally devoid of class consciousness. How else to explain a journalist who makes such shallow observations about total strangers she hears for minutes (or seconds, because her reactions are so worrisomely visceral), and sweeping statements about their psyches and their children's psyches? How else to explain her talk about the ethnic and social identity of her nanny as if all women could breazily hire a highly qualified care provider, and then add a day or two whenever their child becomes an inconvenience?

Of course there's some truth to her observations, being a SAHM can be isolating and being a high-performing professional in a slower-moving world can lead to an obsession with meaningless details, but I believe the vast majority of us are capable of mid-course corrections, and that there are just as many traps on the other side among exhausted, working-too-hard-at-everything moms. Not that I would presume to guess at those, since my brief days of 50-hour work weeks plus being a mom are a bit too distant for reasonable observations.

Look, moan all you want about your own reality. But Amy Sohn, you hardly read like someone who's got it all figured out. And really, where our childrens' psyches are concerned, it seems karmically unsound in the extreme to cast stones so freely.

4 Comments:

At 24.7.06, Blogger meg said...

I've followed a fair number of skirmishes in the Mommy Wars on the blogosphere, and often I suspect the skirmish of being a way for women marginalized by society (whether as SAHM or working mother -- for that entails marginalization as well) to be involved in an important social issue.

I also would like to refine your notion of the girl fight. I don't have kids, won't be having kids, but love kids, so I am an honorary member of the Toddler Mafia. We've toddler-proofed our living room, and we've hosted four birthday parties in our (fabulous) yard.

At least among the dons of the Toddler Mafia here -- let's call them the mama-dons -- motherhood brings out a snarkiness that they wouldn't exhibit otherwise. Every single mother complains to me regularly about how the others are raising their children: X leaves her kid at daycare too long; Y will give her son an eating disorder because all his toys are kitchen-related; Z believes that buying designer dresses for her daughter makes the daycare personnel treat her better. And those are just the complaints I've heard this weekend!

Now, all of the complainers are wonderful women, and they would never dream of saying anything to another mother. And I know that this comes out because the stakes of child-rearing are so much higher than anything else we do. But the snark factor in these non-snarky women stuns me (inside -- I try not to show it). Imagine what the naturally-snarking women are saying!

 
At 25.7.06, Blogger bernalgirl said...

I think the snark factor deserves more discussion... look for follow up post soon.

 
At 25.7.06, Blogger meg said...

Oh good -- I'm dying to hear your thoughts. Needless to say, I can't talk to any of the mama-dons about this, and the other childless women just shrug.

 
At 27.7.06, Blogger bernalgirl said...

For those who are interested, Amy Sohn responded to MNG at http://bonnehomme.blogspot.com/2006/07/amy-sohn-responds.html

Dind't make me like her any better. To paraphrase Toby Ziegler, she's not the Devil, she's the guy who runs in to get the Devil a pack of cigarettes.

 

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