Monday, May 9, 2011

When We Hated Mom

There is a popular myth that feminists hate stay-at-home moms and all tasks assigned to female gender roles.  To the contrary, feminism is about celebrating choices - whether that means supporting a woman who chooses to be a construction worker or a homemaker.  The NY Times piece below mentions some of the historical facts about the myth of feminists hating motherhood, and the real misogyny behind the decreased esteem of mothers in our society.

A feminist who adores her mom,
N. Jerin Arifa
National NOW Board of Directors
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)

The New York Times
By STEPHANIE COONTZ Published: May 7, 2011 An Excerpt:
ONE of the most enduring myths about feminism is that 50 years ago women who stayed home full time with their children enjoyed higher social status and more satisfying lives than they do today. All this changed, the story goes, when Betty Friedan (founder of NOW) published her 1963 best seller, “The Feminine Mystique,” which denigrated stay-at-home mothers. Ever since, their standing in society has steadily diminished. That myth — repeated in Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly’s new book, “The Flipside of Feminism” — reflects a misreading of American history. There was indeed a time when full-time mothers were held in great esteem. But it was not the 1950s or early 1960s. It was 150 years ago. In the 19th century, women had even fewer rights than in the 1950s, but society at least put them on a pedestal, and popular culture was filled with paeans to their self-sacrifice and virtue...

...Stay-at-home mothers were often portrayed as an even bigger menace to society than career women. In 1942, in his best-selling “Generation of Vipers,” Philip Wylie coined the term “momism” to describe what he claimed was an epidemic of mothers who kept their sons tied to their apron strings, boasted incessantly of their worth and demanded that politicians heed their moralizing.

Momism became seen as a threat to the moral fiber of America on a par with communism. In 1945, the psychiatrist Edward Strecher argued that the 2.5 million men rejected or discharged from the Army as unfit during World War II were the product of overly protective mothers.
In the same year, an information education officer in the Army Air Forces conjectured that the insidious dependency of the American man on “ ‘Mom’ and her pies” had “killed as many men as a thousand German machine guns.” According to the 1947 best seller “Modern Woman: The Lost Sex,” two-thirds of Americans were neurotic, most of them made so by their mothers.
Typical of the invective against homemakers in the 1950s and 1960s was a 1957 best seller, “The Crack in the Picture Window,” which described suburban America as a “matriarchal society,” with the average husband “a woman-bossed, inadequate, money-terrified neuter” and the average wife a “nagging slob.”...

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