Read The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan Douglas Meredith W. Michaels Online


Susan Douglas first took on the media's misrepresentation of women in her funny, scathing social commentary "Where the Girls Are." Now, she and Meredith Michaels, have turned a sardonic (but never jaundiced) eye toward the cult of the new momism: a trend in American culture that is causing women to feel that only through the perfection of motherhood can true contentment beSusan Douglas first took on the media's misrepresentation of women in her funny, scathing social commentary "Where the Girls Are." Now, she and Meredith Michaels, have turned a sardonic (but never jaundiced) eye toward the cult of the new momism: a trend in American culture that is causing women to feel that only through the perfection of motherhood can true contentment be found. This vision of motherhood is highly romanticized and yet its standards for success remain forever out of reach, no matter how hard women may try to "have it all.""The Mommy Myth" takes a provocative tour through the past thirty years of media images about mothers: the superficial achievements of the celebrity mom, the news media's sensational coverage of dangerous day care, the staging of the "mommy wars" between working mothers and stay-at-home moms, and the onslaught of values-based marketing that raises mothering standards to impossible levels, just to name a few. In concert with this messaging, the authors contend, is a conservative backwater of talking heads propagating the myth of the modern mom.This nimble assessment of how motherhood has been shaped by out-of-date mores is not about whether women should have children or not, or about whether once they have kids mothers should work or stay at home. It is about how no matter what they do or how hard they try, women will never achieve the promised nirvana of idealized mothering. Douglas and Michaels skillfully map the distance traveled from the days when "The Feminine Mystique" demanded more for women than the unpaid labor of keeping house and raising children, to today's not-so-subtle pressure to reverse this thirty-year trend. A must-read forevery woman....

Title : The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women
Author :
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ISBN : 9780743259996
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women Reviews

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    2019-01-25 03:23

    After taking a lot of heat about my choice to have only one child...And after hearing comments like, "motherhood is so wonderful!" and, "there's no better job than being a mom!"...And after overhearing lots of "mommy wars" crap - stay at home vs. working moms. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding...I decided to pick up this book.These women wrote about how eager our government is to build bombs/spend on war, but won't make sure maternity leave is covered or require quality childcare to be provided... (when other nations like KENYA provide such things)They write about marketing gimmicks. Gotta have your $700 stroller! Gotta have the "in" toys! (if not, your kid will be a nerd and you are a BAD MOM!) Gotta get the EDUCATIONAL toys and videos! (In full disclosure, I didhave Baby Einstein videos. Not because I thought it would turn my son into a genius, but because it put him in a trance long enough for me to take a shower, make dinner, or get in some naked time with my husband.) Those nice marketing guys even feed on the fears of Mom. Gotta have the germ killing sanitizers and SIDS preventing mattresses and monitors!They write about celeb moms and the "pressure" they put on us regular moms to be thin, perfect, and blissed out by having babies. Hey, I'd be blissed out and have 5 more if I had 'round the clock nannies, cooks, plastic surgeons to fix the devastation to the body from being pregnant and nursing and millions of dollars! They write about the media, talking about celebs loving motherhood. Talking about kids neglected in day care... Condemning the welfare mothers of crack babies, (Think of the cost to the taxpayer!!!) While putting the mom's of litters, er, fertility drug induced multiples (remember the McCaughy's?) in the limelight of "amazing moms"! (No, no cost to the taxpayer for her to be on bedrest for 3 months and 7 infants spending a year in intensive care, not to mention those developmental delays, right?)They also make several hilarious sarcastic comments, and refer to Dr. Laura as the Mussolini of Motherhood...They also give a shout out to Anne Lamott's book, Operating Instructions: A journal of my son's first year" Which is a must read for any new mom, in my opinion.That's right. They keep it real. Your ability to spit out kids does not make you a woman. Your choice to NOT have kids does not make you LESS of a woman. Sisters, let's be real with one another, stop the envy, petty one-upmanship and help each other out.Excellent, thought provoking read.

  • K
    2019-01-28 09:30

    The Mommy Myth TrialoguePopular Culture: It’s amazing to be a mom! I am so blissed out as I take care of my baby, and if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you! Feminism is overrated and anti-motherhood!Douglas & Michaels, authors of The Mommy Myth: No! No! No! This is all a bunch of momism (i.e., an impossible standard of perfection in mothering perpetuated by the media). And feminists actually love stay-at-home mothers! They just think men should help more, and want more childcare options. Take that, Christina Hoff Sommers!Hapless reader: Wait a minute, guys – I read a book by Christina Hoff Sommers on feminism. I didn’t find her antifeminist per se as you guys claim, and she cited a heck of a lot of data to support her points. Meanwhile, your acerbic and often vitriolic tone is admittedly bitingly funny and saves this book from being dry, but I’m not sure about your credibility; you can get a bit rhetorical.Popular culture: In women’s movies, guys can be jerks but the happy ending comes when the heroine ends up with a more sensitive man.Douglas & Michaels: Drag that heroine to a gay bar where she can meet some decent women! These heterosexual happy endings with sensitive guys are deluding audiences by masking the patriarchy.Hapless reader: Hey, I’m also not a fan of wish fulfillment in Mary Sue movies, but judging from the number of them out there, I guess other people are. Once we’re appealing to people’s fantasies, is it so terrible to imagine that our heroine finds a decent guy? Is that really so unrealistic? Last I checked, there were still some decent guys out there.Popular culture: It’s all over the news – kids are being kidnapped! Kids are being poisoned! Lots of bad stuff happens at daycare centers! Douglas & Michaels: You see? It’s all a plot. They’re trying to get mothers to leave the workplace and go back home.Hapless reader: Or maybe news shows are just trying to get ratings by being sensationalist and appealing to people’s vulnerabilities. As more mothers work, these will naturally be hot topics.Popular culture: Look at all these celebrities just loving being moms with their five nannies and three chefs! And look how skinny and gorgeous they are all the time, and how they never complain!Douglas & Michaels: And how is the average women’s magazine reader supposed to feel when she sees how short she falls compared to Hollywood celebs? They’re sending you a message – if you fail at motherhood, you fail at womanhood. Hapless reader: I’m not sure how deliberate or calculated this all is, and most of my friends and I aren’t comparing ourselves to Angelina Jolie and struggling with inferiority complexes as a result.Popular culture: Welfare queens! Crack babies! Child abuse! Maternal delinquents!Douglas & Michaels: The media sets up motherhood good guys and bad guys, and are giving us a vastly oversimplified picture. They’re causing us to stereotype people on welfare and exacerbating our tendencies toward racism and classism. These images of evil mothers make insecure mothers with aspirations to perfect motherhood feel better about themselves. But really, mothers on welfare are being unfairly stereotyped and really need their government funding which is now in jeopardy.Hapless reader: I’ve worked with people who were underprivileged, and I’ve met a wide range of people living off of government programs. I’ve met people who fit the media stereotypes, and I’ve met people who were more like the people Douglas and Michaels claim are more typical (hard-working, given a bad break in life, doing the best they can, striving to get off of government programs), and I’ve also met people who fall on different places in that continuum. The system definitely needs an overhaul. But I’m not sure Douglas and Michaels’ image is any more accurate, or less one-dimensional, than that of the media.Popular culture: All mothers are locked in mortal combat in “the Mommy Wars,” clawing desperately at each other as they fight to the death over who’s right, the stay-at-home moms or the working mothers.Douglas & Michaels: First of all, this presupposes that mothers are choosing to work when many of them are not. Second of all, many stay-at-home mothers are sympathetic to and/or envious of mothers who work, and vice versa, but this is entirely overlooked because it’s more fun for the media to pit us against each other. What’s really going on here is that an impossible standard of motherhood is being promoted which is making all of us insecure and defensive. What’s also happening is that an ideal of individualism is being sold to women, which is replacing feminism and the sisterhood of collectively advocating for women’s needs. Ha! The government wins! No need to give women’s needs high priority, because there’s no more women’s lobby!Hapless reader: Yeah, I also thought the “Mommy Wars” were highly overrated and find that most of the mothers I know manage to find some balance between being with their kids and developing a career, even if that balance looks different for different people. I wouldn’t say that there’s an anti-feminist backlash agenda here, just an attempt by media to get readers/listeners/viewers by drumming up controversy among existing social movements.Popular culture: Daycare is bad. Research has found that it negatively affects child development in all kinds of ways. And look at all those sexual abuse scandals that happened in daycare centers!Douglas & Michaels: Well, a lot of that damning research on daycares was agenda-driven and problematic. Jay Belsky, a major researcher in this area, misrepresented his findings as well as his status on the research team just to get attention. And what those scandals really show us is that we need to have better daycare across the board, available to all working mothers, not just the ones who can afford those astronomical prices for quality daycare. Government, where are you? Why can’t we be more like Denmark, Sweden, and France? Shame on you!Hapless reader: I want better daycare, but I’m not sure that I want higher taxes and a more socialized government. I think this issue is far more complicated than Douglas & Michaels are making it out to be.Popular culture: You have to buy your child the best toys, or they won’t develop properly. And you have to buy your child the hippest toys, or they’ll feel deprived compared to their friends.Douglas & Michaels: These educational toys are so overrated, and many of the hip toys are also sexist. Stop commercializing the mother-child relationship! Stop pressuring moms to anticipate, and cater to, all of their child’s needs!Hapless reader: Unfortunately we do live in a materialistic society, and some of this is unavoidable. I agree that it’s regrettable, though I’ll admit that this particular chapter got a bit long-winded for me.Popular culture: Beware of SIDS and other childhood dangers (that can only be prevented by buying our expensive products)! Dr. Laura is proud to be her kid’s mom, and will rip you if you’re not – no confusing moral ambiguity there. Basically, women need to be independent, achievement-oriented, successful, both equal to men and appealing to men, selfless, accommodating, nurturing, and of course, slim and beautiful – “some hybrid between Mother Teresa, Donna Shalala, Martha Stewart, and Cindy Crawford.” (p. 325)Douglas & Michaels: Somehow, kids survived in earlier generations without all these products. Dr. Laura is a hypocrite who has a major career despite being her kid’s mom, and capitalizes on women’s ambivalence about working in a context where it’s hard to afford good daycare (boo to you, government) by reaffirming the sexual division of labor and creating a black-and-white world that infantilizes her callers. Let’s replace momism with something more honest and real. Let’s acknowledge that motherhood, though it can be deeply rewarding, is not an endless high. Let’s ridicule momism, which is really little more than an attempt to sell us stuff and divide women, and instead, let’s come together and advocate for things that mothers actually need.Hapless reader: Douglas and Michaels, for all my making fun of them in this review, are intelligent academics who make a lot of good, or at least stimulating, points. I also found myself chuckling a lot at their acerbic barbs and satire. That being said, they’re clearly agenda-driven and, in their way, just as one-dimensional as all those people promoting the new momism. This book needs to be read critically. It’s also long, and a bit of a commitment. But I’m not sorry I read it, and if the topic speaks to you, you may enjoy it as well.

  • Annaliese Fleming
    2019-02-14 08:27

    I think this book is HILARIOUS--it's a laugh out of loud experience for people trying to raise children in this over-the-top era of parenting. I have appreciated the authors' candor in revealing how the media, hollywood and republicans have created the image of a "good mom" as a woman who is totally fulfilled by being a mother and needs nothing else to feel total bliss. Anyone who's been barfed on at 3 AM knows that to be an overly simplistic view. The history of how the media protrays mothering is really interesting, and potentially harmful for those women who want/lead more complicated lives.

  • April
    2019-02-18 09:14

    As a woman who doesn't want kids, this book was in a section of the bookstore I'd never been in (parenting), with a title that doesn't pertain to my life, and yet I started reading. I was amazed - I found a book that told me it was okay to be a woman but not a mom. Go figure! This book is a well-researched guide for mothers and non-mothers (is that the term?) alike. There are two sides to every story, of course, and this book tells that side that the media doesn't particularly glamorize. I admit the book isn't perfect, but it is definitely food for thought and might open your eyes to another way of life!

  • Patty
    2019-01-30 08:13

    I may be trying to drive myself crazy, or maybe it is just time for me to revisit feminism. I have read seven books in the last year that I classified as feminist. I don't know why I have headed down this path at this time. Maybe it is having a grown daughter, maybe that I know I need to be more involved in women's issues. I do know there are a couple more that I plan to read.After reading Enlightened Sexism, I felt the need to go back to Susan Douglas' first book. The Mommy Myth makes some of the same points as Douglas' second book, but this is emphasizing the relationship between moms and the media rather than all women. I liked Enlightened Sexism better, but the arguments in this book are just as valid.I was especially pleased that Douglas is writing for all mothers. I am very frustrated by the perceived need to pit stay at home moms against working outside the home moms. All mothers (and fathers) suffer because many in this country do not respect work done in the home or work done to support our children. We need to learn from other countries.

  • Katie
    2019-01-30 04:06

    Fascinating, and I think this should be required reading for anyone who is trying to raise kids in today's society. We are getting so many messages from so many sources about how to be moms and how to raise our kids and -- most upsetting of all -- how to be terrified of everything. It was startling to me to realize how many of those messages are coming in and where they're coming from. Also read another book on this topic: Perfect Madness.

  • Jeanna
    2019-02-20 07:06

    I was curious to see what the authors had to say about motherhood being idealized, even though I knew I wouldn't agree with a lot of what they had to say. I ended up just reading a couple of parts that I was interested in and not really caring about finishing the whole thing.But I think they had a good point: mothers now are increasingly pressured to be totally perfect in every way--make your own baby food, homeschool, always be patient and understanding, teach your kid to read early so they're smarter, make sure they're involved in 7 million activities, don't have any time to yourself, and did I mention never losing your temper and always being patient and understanding? And lots more things too. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I'm constantly feeling like I'm supposed to be doing more to be a good mom. So I agree with their overall point that there's just too much pressure and it makes life a little bit miserable and guilt-inducing for mothers and even for women without children. But I also do think that being a mother is wonderful and meaningful--and if you're a mom, then that really is one of the most important jobs/roles you have. Not the only one, but definitely one of the most important. And that it does require some sacrifice on your part. It doesn't mean that you can't also have other things that are important to you, but being a mother means sacrificing or waiting on some of those things for a while.Okay, enough soapboxing. Essentially, I thought they had some interesting things to think about, but the book was too politically charged to make a good read for the whole thing.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-01 05:18

    This book was lent to me when I was four or five months pregnant with my first child. I fell in love with it immediately, recommending it to anyone who would listen. As the title suggests, it is about the raw deal women have been given about motherhood. It talks about how feminism in the 70s was about free daycare, and it confirmed what I have been saying, our society doesn't really like children. Yes it wants us to buy a bunch of crap for our kids so they can compete with other children and their crap, and yes it glorifies motherhood to the extreme that you are a total loser if you don't want or can't have children, but as a society we are not really equipped to raise children. Most maternity leave is 3 months, if you are lucky, and most people need two incomes to survive (and buy all of the crap they need to keep their children competitive). Childcare is on of the lowest paying professions, yet most people struggle to afford it, which is what the 70s feminist movement was about. I could go on, but suffice to say, I loved this book and other people might as well.

  • Rudy
    2019-02-22 07:03

    of all the millions of books out there on what it means to be a mother in contemporary society, i feel that this is the best one for a couple of reasons: 1) it is not a personal account but rather a very well researched academic survey of many mothers from all different classes, beliefs, and parts of the country. It is not just the point of view of an upper middle class white mother with angst. 2) There is a lot of history and it's quite educational on the subject of the various methodolgies of child rearing throughout the last century, as well as the rise of feminism. 3) Even though it is thorough and academic, it is very readable and well written. Finally!

  • Purl Scout
    2019-02-03 03:15

    basically a manifesto stating that feminism and the idea that we can have it all has straight up fucked women over. can be beautifully summed up by that scene in the 30 Rock episode about the teamsters sandwiches when liz lemon is stuffing her face with the sandwich while yelling, "i can have it all!" no. no you can't, and none of us can. way to sabotage ourselves, girls. its time to get realistic.

  • Ava Strange
    2019-01-30 09:20

    An absolute must-read!

  • Lisa Wuertz
    2019-02-18 06:19

    I found this book to be very informative. I really liked how it analyzed the media's portrayals of motherhood over a 20 year period in everything from magazines to news reports. Even though the book was published in 2004 and a lot of the references were from media in the 80s and 90s, I can still see these same trends in our current media climate. I definitely saw attitudes and cultural "norms" (both good and bad) that are perpetuated in the media that my friends, family and I have been shaped by.However, I did feel towards the end of the book that it was just turning into a bashing of motherhood in general. Because of this, I'm left at the end of the book not exactly sure what the authors' point is other than they want more government spending to support schools, daycare, and the poor.Some key points that I found interesting and liked:-How celebrity mom profiles in magazines make a lot of average women feel that they need to/can do it all and still be a sexy coverlette. Not exactly realistic.-On the opposite end of the media spectrum, most stories in the news surrounding children and parenting tend to be fear mongering like if you put your kid in daycare they will be abused and neglected, toys have all these toxic chemicals in them, child abductions, vaccine reactions, disease outbreaks, etc. -When something bad happens to a child and it so happens that both parents work, the mother being at work is more often emphasized in the media stories. Women are expected to stay at home with their kids and if something happens to their kids when they are not in their care, it is their fault. The fathers are not usually mentioned in these news stories and fathers are not expected to be as responsible.-Feminism is responsible for a lot of really great things in the lives of women, but a lot of Christians and Republicans try to make it seem otherwise and focus on a couple of the negative aspects of the movement. -Stories in the news media about welfare mothers and crack babies tend to almost exclusively feature minorities even though this is not statistically accurate as to actual population numbers. -In the late 80s and early 90s there were a slew of stories in the news media about crack babies and the developmental problems they would have and the cost to society they would be as they grew up. However, many studies since then have found that effects of cocaine on fetuses were greatly exaggerated and many of the negative effects were often caused by other factors like alcohol, tobacco, poverty and lack of prenatal care. I think the section on this really struck me because as someone that has always had a heart for adoption I've been cautioned about "crack babies" countless times as one of the reasons not to go through the US foster system. -The media continues to perpetuate the myth that most welfare mothers abuse the system, are part of several generations that have been on welfare, keep having more kids to get more money from the system, are lazy, and are minorities. Tons of research has been done on this and it just isn't supported. These abuses are a tiny fraction of welfare recipients.-How toys and products marketed to kids have become big business thanks to deregulation of the FCC and anti-trust laws and how our kids are basically turned into brand loyal consumers from a very young age thanks to movies, TV shows, commercials, toy catalogues, etc. And how this brand consciousness and loyalty continues through the teen years. How you are made to feel that you aren't a cool or good mom if you don't get your kids the latest toys (educational and not), clothes and stuff they want.

  • Margaret
    2019-02-14 02:19

    I struggled with writing about this when I read it way back in 2004, because I really liked it in some ways, but in others, it irritated the hell out of me. Clearly, there is a lot of truth in Douglas and Michaels's assessment of what they call "the new momism" -- American culture's highly idealized vision of the perfect mother -- and of how the media and many politicians have contributed to its growth. Their history of motherhood in the media is fascinating reading, and the chapter on childcare is particularly compelling in its analysis of how from Nixon's time on the government has failed to support childcare programs.However, two things prevent me from being able to recommend The Mommy Myth whole-heartedly. The first is the tone. I've appreciated Douglas's witty style before, in her excellent Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media, but this time, the constantly snide tone just detracts from the message of the book. It's tough to pick out a particular passage to quote here, but the tone is so pervasive that although I barely noticed it in the first chapter, by the end of the second chapter I was constantly rolling my eyes and wishing they'd knock it off (maybe it was the section about the fictional "Committee for Retrograde Antifeminist Propaganda (CRAP)" that did it).The second and more serious issue is that although Douglas and Michaels claim to support the rights of mothers to make their own choices, they seem to have their own ideas about the right way to mother, and they frequently denigrate other choices, giving them lip service while writing about them as though you'd have to be crazy even to think about them. For example, they say of home schooling (which I probably won't be doing but have certainly considered) that "for some parents today, home schooling is the best and sometimes the only option they have, and they do it without an ounce of self-righteousness." Great, but since they've just spent almost a page describing home schooling in a very biased way and making it clear that it's something they would never consider ("we have no idea how any parent spends the whole day attempting to impart knowledge to her kids"), it's hard to believe that they're as open-minded as they act.The Mommy Myth could and should be a valuable book, particularly for mothers who are feeling the pressure of perfection. It does contain a lot of valuable information and a lot of convincing arguments, and I think it's worthwhile reading for those. However, I would have been a lot happier with a book which was a little more serious in tone and a lot more objective.

  • Shel
    2019-02-10 09:31

    I do not read parenting books. The last one I read was What to Expect When You're Expecting, and I hated it because, as Seth Rogan correctly points out in Knocked Up, "This is just a giant list of things you can't do!" Even when I felt the most at sea, the parenting book aisle repelled me, particularly the books that predicted gloom and doom for your budding Ophelia or your boy who had problems you didn't even know about... crisis after crisis after crisis!This book was the first one I picked up on what it means to be a mother today. It is written by a woman who is a professor in media/communications, so much of what she focuses on is what we are told as a nation of mothers, and how it differs from the previous generation's concepts of how to bring up children (to put it another way, how I was raised). So, it's kind of strident sometimes. It's strident because she is pissed off.There are hilarious chapters on celebrity motherhood, a cult of personality still in evidence and growing like crazy since I read the book back in '06. The headlines are still the same: My baby is my life; I've never been happier; We're totally normal... and then there are not so hilarious chapters about bad mothers... welfare mothers, mothers who leave their children, mothers who kill their children, and how we are led to see/understand good vs. bad through the lenses provided for us.More than anything, this book taught me how to critically view marketing, advertising, news stories, books and movies aimed at telling me what is required of me as a mother today. It also taught me that my approach to being a mother -- always saying and doing the "correct" thing -- left me pretty much devoid of my own personality; you could have switched me out for another mom and no one would have noticed. Unfortunately for my children, that means being exposed to my dry sense of humor and my occasional irrational anger, as well as my hugs accompanied with tears. But at least my kids will know who I am, who I really am, as they venture into therapy to complain about me!If you want another good one, get:

  • SmarterLilac
    2019-02-16 10:15

    Not the book for anyone who is interested in being appreciated for being a mother.As a proud feminist, I recognize what this book is trying to say about the ways motherhood was and is used against women and as a tool to make it more difficult for women to feel and to be fully self-actualized. But I became uncomfortable with the parts of this book which pretend women in the mothering role are in for nothing but slavery to a man and to children. There isn't a lot in here that recognizes the joys of motherhood and its rewards—or that this role is one that many women choose voluntarily. Or of the ways the hard work that motherhood provides benefits children and families and the future.To be fair, this is clearly not the book's objective. Women who are unprepared for the unfairness inherent in the way women who are mothers are treated (by society and their own families) in the U.S. would do well to heed the warnings in this book before having children. It's the lack of balance in perspectives here that make The Mommy Myth fundamentally flawed to me.

  • Kristina
    2019-02-15 06:25

    Very interesting and thorough view of motherhood and the idea of being a mother. I thought that the authors sometimes seemed a little short-sided and convinced that their version was the only right version/way of thinking. Also thought they exaggerated some things. Overall, very interesting. Would recommend to mothers or women wanting to become mothers or even women who don't want to become mothers but want to know why other women do (I'm in the last group).

  • Maureen
    2019-01-28 02:07

    Thorough book which writes about how women have taken in mixed messages from the media about being a mother and discusses how motherhood has been depicted in the last decades of the 20th century. Well written points throughout the book.

  • D.
    2019-02-09 06:27

    Funny, sharp, accessible. Good analyses of media representations of gender and parenting, and how those stories (and political rhetoric) diverge from actual social changes.

  • Laura Rydberg
    2019-02-19 10:14

    Interesting but caustic. I appreciated a lot of the arguments that were made: they were, for the most part, well-thought out and delineated. However, the bitter tone of the book made for obnoxious reading after awhile.

  • Mythili
    2019-02-11 10:15

    There's a time-capsule quality to this book-- the style of its sassiness and nature of some of its specific rants feel dated. But I liked the spirit of it and its larger point about how certain kinds of narratives about motherhood are used to hold women back.

  • Emily
    2019-02-20 05:29

    I found this book fascinating and a call to arms for all women, not just mothers. Douglas and Michaels, both mothers themselves, present a disturbing picture of how political, religious, media and pop culture influences have shaped the definition of what it means to be the best mom. Using a pleasingly sarcastic tone, the authors tore apart political systems (mostly Republican, although Democrats played their roles) that singlehandedly ensured Americans never received any federal support for childcare after WWII. Of course, in those days, all the men were fighting overseas, so childcare was essential if the government wanted mothers building bombs in the factories. The government-funded program provided full-range childcare, including educational support, infirmaries for a sick child (imagine not having to call off because your child has a fever at day care), highly-trained staff, and a grocery store on-site with the option to have groceries ready at the end of the day. We don’t need any of this garbage today, because women don’t need to work outside of the home, right? Even more infuriating was the treatment of welfare mothers by politicians and the media who presented them as lazy, ignorant, sex-crazed and users of the system. The message was (and still is) clear – get off your lazy ass and get a job. Of course, that sentiment ignores the fact that most welfare recipients were single moms without access to childcare. Sort of makes things difficult. The book covered so many motherhood challenges brought on by things like constant marketing of products designed to make your baby smarter, faster, and better than everyone else (better keep up or little Johnny will ride the short bus); People magazine covers featuring celebrity moms who have time to make blockbuster movies, take their child to school every day, and still have time to bake cookies in the afternoon (jeez, normal moms, what’s your problem? Don’t you have an on-call staff of nannies at your disposal, too?); and all the forces of political/religious fundamentalism/media evil that combines to make working moms feel like they abandon their children daily. Of course, even if you choose to stay home with your child, there is plenty of guilt to go around, especially if you don’t give 100% of yourself to your child at all times. Don’t even think about having your own hobbies or interests, lest they take away the time you spend raising perfect children. There is so much more covered in this book that really irritated me as a woman; I can’t imagine what a mother would feel as she reads it. Hopefully some of my friends who wear motherhood as one of their many hats will have time to read and talk about it. I’d love to hear their perspective.

  • Dimity
    2019-02-12 07:30

    I think I read this engaging book at the perfect time in my new parenting journey. Douglas and Michaels are a breath of much needed fresh air in the midst of the diaper stench and guilt that comes standard with modern American motherhood. I enjoyed their biting, hilarious style. I realized how prevalent what the authors dub “the new momism” really is and how the ideas I’d absorbed from it were influencing my feelings towards parenthood (and not for the better). It was a relief to realize how this heap of unrealistic expectations was unhelpful and I have been working on releasing myself from those expectations. After reading this book, I was inspired to delete my membership from all the parenting websites I was frequenting and the sun has been shining more brightly in the sky every day since doing that. It was particularly helpful for me to read the criticisms of attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is the style that my parenting choices probably fit the best into. From my experience, the attachment parenting world sees itself as the persecuted minority (probably not a completely unjustified feeling) and most of the online forums catering to this parenting style are defensive from the get-go and there’s not always room for much dissent. It was enlightening to get some outside validation for my gut feelings that attachment parenting often isn’t very friendly to mothers. I found the authors’ defense of notorious murdering mothers to be slightly seems a far cry from dissecting momism to using it as an excuse for women killing their children. The images were not organized and no reference in text to them; it feels like the image section was just thrown in there.I loved this book and I wish they had written this more recently so I could see their thoughts on “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom,” and the other shows in the recent explosion of reality shows dealing with motherhood.

  • Ryan Mishap
    2019-02-17 10:11

    Snappy and sarcastic, but well researched, this book describes how individual media and political campaigns, the backlash against feminism, the marketing and entertainment juggernauts, celebrity culture, religious right-wingers and others helped shape the "new momism." This is their label for the sneaky idea that feminism was so successful that now women are empowered by choosing to stay home and lose themselves in their children--while staying sexy, of course. In fact, it turns out that what we thought were the dated values proffered by the patriarchy actually turn out to be true! Your only worth is as a mother.Mothers themselves, the authors aren't condemning women who choose to have kids or be homemakers, rather they are talking back to those forces in society who demand the impossible of women, seek to impose sexist gender roles, cajole women to give up their subjectivity in favor of living through their children, and a whole host of crazy-making demands. They also seek to encourage the solidarity, consciousness-raising, and concerted political effort that marked second-wave feminism in service of making the world an equal place for everyone.Some of the celebrity and political references are a little out of date by now and they tend to conflate fictional stories on television with real life (Douglas is a media studies type, so not surprising), but this is an excellent study. I realize it isn't the main focus of the book, but I would have liked to see a chapter on women talking back to the "new momism" by not having kids and an examination of how society's pressure to have kids affects women and the choices they make.I would also like to see a book like this by feminist dads. Hey was that a pig with wings flying by?

  • Sarah
    2019-02-06 05:19

    This was a wonderful book, and I would mark it as *must read* for any woman who has children, wants children, or is ever planning to be in the same room as another woman who has or wants children. It is thought provoking, informative, horrifying, snarky, and fascinating to the point where I couldn't put it down. Especially since I grew up in the 80's and 90's (which the authors cover from a mom perspective), it was so fascinating to learn how icons of my childhood, from Care Bears to satanic daycare cults play into their thesis. Having lived though those years as a child, I found it easy to understand, remember, and relate to their points. I also really respect how comprehensive the authors were in talking about how class differences play into these stereotypes of good mother vs bad mother. They also don't mince words about the role of the media in promoting "mommy wars" between stay and home moms and working moms, promoting racist images of women on welfare, or just promoting unverified crap about razor blades in Halloween candy. Because if we are distracted and scared, who cares about the lack of quality affordable daycare options or regulating advertisements designed to sell kids sugar coated cereals or dolls made with lead paint?Overall, this book encourages all women to stop playing by these bizarre rules (usually dictated by wealthy corporate interests) of what a good mother is. And it encourages women to work together as mothers instead of judging each other in this counter-productive divisive ways that just leave us all insecure and alone instead of strong and united for the welfare of ourselves and our children.

  • Tamara
    2019-02-12 06:11

    Favorite Quotes: The new momism...redefines all women, first and foremost, through their relationship to children.But motherhood is, in our culture, emphasized as such an individual achievement, something you and you alone excel at or screw up. So it’s easy to forget that motherhood is a collective experience. The women she talked to ‘believed children would answer basic existential questions of meaning’ and would ‘provide a kind of unconditional love that relationships with men did not.’ They over-idealized motherhood and bought into the norm of ‘the Perfect Mother – the woman for whom childbearing supersedes all other identities and satisfactions.’Letty Corrin Pogrebin profiled five househusbands, one of whom was, believe it or not, Ted Koppel. He and his wife had four kids, she had moved nearly a dozen times because of his job, and now she wanted to return to law school. So Ted took nine months off and took care of the cleaning, shopping, cooking, and the kids, and reported how it made him reassess the housewife’s work. ‘[O:]ne day after I’d finished mopping the kitchen floor, [my wife:] came home from school and walked all over it. I started yelling, ‘Take off your shoes, you’re tracking up my floor!’ – a sentence I’d heard her yell a hundred times. A light went off in both our heads…I realized how unfair it is to put the total burden of a house and kids on one person.’ What often happened was not that the husband suddenly said, “Okay, dear, I’ll wash the floor too’ (although some did), but that both spousal units agreed that housework was a drag and that they’d both do as little as possible. (These were the notorious ‘dark years’ for Mr. Clean.

  • Madyson
    2019-02-22 10:07

    I think everyone should read this book, not only because of the critical analysis on the media, but also due to the historical background provided. It is mainly linear and I learned a lot from that alone.Also, for the most part the authors make an effort to describe multiple perspectives on the issues discussed. At times I found the commentary ridiculous but sometimes I laughed, but still- anyone like myself who is used to reading long texts of analysis and statistics SHOULD appreciate the humor and character because it makes it more interesting overall.Even when I didn't agree with something, I found myself thinking "hmm I never knew that or thought about this issue before" and its important that at the very least, people get a seed in their mind that grows into some opposition of what is spoon fed by the media and politicians. As an example, they criticize how an industry has been built on marketing "educational toys" for kids or "organic everything" by playing upon mothers' desires for the best for their kids. On one hand, I don't see the issue with that because I personally benefited from those choices by my mom in particular (they specifically mention a LeapPad book I actually owned and enjoyed). On the other hand, I never considered how marketing likely had an impact on these choices. Naturally, I still read ordinary books, but this electronic book was more expensive and if you really think about it, not actually a *necessary* investment that made me any smarter.Anywho, like I said, still recommending this book EVEN THOUGH (gasp) I don't actually want kids myself. Whether you are young like I am, old, male, female, etc, this book is worth your time.

  • Allison
    2019-02-13 08:08

    Excellent book correcting the revisionist history of feminism that has evolved recently in which feminists are painted as anti-mother, reminding the reader that the women's movement was the first to argue for the monetary value of a mother's work. Also addresses the intense and unfair media scrutiny given to mothers (and almost never to fathers) which judges women for their parenting choices and pits them against each other in fabricated "mommy wars." The author discusses the relatively new parenting theories that mothers are assaulted with, almost all of which are defined by men, and many of which tell us: a) to always put ourselves and our personal needs and priorities aside in favor of the needs and desires of our kids, andb) that a woman is completely defined as a mother first and foremost, encompassing the most important purpose of her being.These rules do not apply to fathers. To stray from this narrative is to be a "bad mother," and it's not ok to admit that sometimes accomplishing goals at work can be more gratifying than changing diapers and dealing with temper tantrums. I could've done without the hokey epilogue, but I was generally happy to have read this book now, mid-pregnancy, since I feel completely pressured by ideas like attachment parenting and child-led breastfeeding and "natural" births, which do not speak to me as an individual, but for which I'm made to feel like a neglectful or unenthusiastic mother-to-be for not believing in.

  • Mary Beth
    2019-02-01 05:09

    I am more than halfway through this book, and have been struggling to finish it. I think the authors have many valid points, but I am not enjoying the snarky, sarcastic tone with which they choose to make said points. It is alarming how prevalent the "celebrity mom" seems to be. She, and her perfect life, appear everywhere, baby in tow. It's as though an infant is the new "it" bag. The authors point out how various media glorify this relatively new monster--but anyone with a good perspective on life isn't falling for the "my-life-is-perfect-with-my-new-baby" line anyway.Halfway through reading this book my husband and I suffered a late-term pregnancy loss. Afterwards I really couldn't stomach more reading of how the life of a stay-at-home-mom is glorified and anti-feminist.Maybe the authors weren't actively trying to make this connection. But the snarky tone of the writing made me, a happy stay-at-home-mother, feel like I'd been backed over by the feminist bus. I do believe, as a feminist, that the movement was designed to give women the choice to live their lives as they/we see fit. But the tone the authors chose to employ in this book made me feel like I'd chosen the wrong door--like my life's path is a detriment to the cause. And right now, i don't need it. I hope to finish this book in the near future, but for now it's going back on the shelf.

  • Liz
    2019-01-30 04:24

    It might not be fair to give this a rating since I only got a few chapters in.However, it felt like the authors were hammering in the same points using a very aggressive tone - if that makes sense - which made it difficult for me to read.I felt like the authors were often rolling their eyes through their words and make the world out to be a very hostile place for mothers, and especially one where stay-at-home moms are constantly at war with working mothers (and vice versa). Maybe I am not the target audience for this book and I would think that mothers in underserved populations would probably be more apt to feel vindicated by the authors' tone and accusations of unfair treatment by society at large.I guess what it did for me is actually make me feel MORE secure about the job I am doing raising my son and made me recognize my "whatever" attitude toward what the popular press is (according to the authors) supposedly telling me I should be. This "sticks and stones" viewpoint I have is relatively new in my career as a mother (which is also new) and perhaps is reflective of a loving and supportive family - I don't know.I'll stop now -since I really didn't read enough of the book to give it a complete review. I am just trying to share why I did not want to read further.

  • Lynnette
    2019-02-04 03:08

    While it was certainly amusing in spots, and spot-on in others, my overall reaction was this: "Bitter Much?"I was interested in the overall message that our perception of motherhood is largely based on the media representation of some idyllic bliss, but after the repetitive over-the-head bludgeoning of the thesis that all women are victims I kind of rolled my eyes. You don't like the message that your kids get on tv commercials? Turn it off. You don't like the messages directed at you in print ads, don't buy the magazine. Don't want kids? Don't have them. Nobody is forcing women to bear children anymore. We are in control of our lives and our families. We are educated enough to share our beliefs with our children in the hopes of raising a better generation. I just really felt this book was more about bashing Republicans and anyone with any religious beliefs than it was to expose deep seated problems in our society. That being said, it's always good to read an opposing view point. I just though that the delivery was more negative than necessary, which left me more annoyed than enlightened.