Taking Back The Word “Mom” -- And The Phrase "Mom-in-Chief"
On this show, we’re talking about taking back the word “mom” in an empowered way. In the wake of the love fest for the word “mom” at both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, it’s time for us to get real about what the word “mom” really means in our nation. Because after the balloons drop and the politicians stop courting our votes, we’re going to be left with the moniker.
Here’s the deal: For far too long, the word “mom” has been used to disempower and discriminate against women. This hurts more than our feelings; this hurts our pocket books. One study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, moms make 73 cents to a man’s dollar, and single moms make only about 60 cents to a man’s dollar. Women of color experience increased wage hits on top of that.
This is a big deal because guess what? Over 80 percent of women in our nation have children by the time they’re 44 and we all have mothers. Our families are hurt by this wage discrimination too because three-quarters of moms are in the labor force and half of them are the primary breadwinners for our families.
We’re hurt also by the fact that the U.S. is in the Stone Age compared to most other countries when it comes to family economic security policies like access to affordable childcare, access to time off after the birth of a new baby, access to sick days, and equal pay for equal work policies. And although many moms work hard and play by the rules, they still struggle to make enough money to put food on the table. Too often the issues around motherhood are discussed in the media as if all women have the same choices; as if all women can actually choose between working and staying home, while most moms simply don’t have that luxury. Most families now need the wages of moms to make ends meet, and sometimes even those wages, especially with the wage hits that women experience, simply aren’t enough.
That’s why I stood up and applauded when the First Lady proclaimed herself proudly as Mom-in-Chief at the Democratic National Convention. It was a strong empowered taking back of the word, “mom.” It elevated it to the level of Mom-in-Chief. To have the First Lady say that in a time when too often women in the labor force are having to hide the fact that they have children or having to hide their children's pictures in their offices is an important statement of power in a time when there is significant real horrible wage discrimination against women who are moms. To have the First Lady stand up and say one of her most important jobs is Mom-in-Chief is a significant boost to all women.
So I gave her a standing ovation, and I gave a standing ovation to all of the Moms-in- Chiefs across the country, but not everyone had the same response. In fact, not everybody agrees that the use of the phrase “Mom-in-Chief” is empowering. All of our views are valid, we all come from important different perspectives, and on this show we’re going to talk about those perspectives. And we’re going to talk about our public policies that will move our country forward and make sure that we decrease discrimination against all women and mothers.
**You can hear all about it by clicking here to get the podcast: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537
Special guests include:
- Kuae Mattox is the National President of Mocha Moms and Emmy nominated freelance journalist.
- Jennifer Pozner, Author of Reality Bites Back and founder of Feministing.com, a non-profit organization.
- Roslyn McCallister Brock is the Chairman of the NAACP
- Tamara Winfrey Harris is an author whose work focuses on race and gender, and their intersection with pop culture and politics.
- Lisa Belkin is the Huffington Post’s Senior Columnist on Life/Work/Family
***LISTEN to the “MomsRising with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner” radio show here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537
Taking Back The Word “Mom” -- And The Phrase “Mom-in-Chief” MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner Highlights:
Kuae Mattox is the National President of Mocha Moms and Emmy nominated freelance journalist.
On her response when the First Lady called herself "Mom-in-Chief" in her speech at the Democratic National Convention:
"I was sitting in my kitchen with my husband and my children and I have to tell you, when she said that line, my mouth went wide open and I said, 'Oh my goodness.' She said what was so profound and so important and I thought it was powerful. It was moving, it was compelling; and it was particularly historic as a black woman, as a mother; but particularly as an African American mother and an African American stay-at-home mother, who made the choice to stay at home. To hear the First Lady say this really spoke volumes to me."
On equal pay and policies for moms in the workforce:
"First of all, women need to make 100 percent of the 100 percent that men make. It’s just absolutely ridiculous that in this day and age we’re making 70 cents to the dollar. When I leave work to have a child, I need to get paid for it. And then I need to be able to go back to work without fear of mentioning to my boss that I need to leave at 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock or I have some other obligation during my lunch hour. This is an opportunity for us to be loud and to be proud about who we are and what we do and it’s also an opportunity for us to push some of these more family friendly policies and make employers understand the value of what we do."
Jennifer Pozner, Author of Reality Bites Back and founder of Women in Media & News, a non-profit organization.
On how mom role is playing out in our modern media in relation to women’s empowerment:
“Moms have been among the largest scapegoats in media for decades, not just the low income and women of color moms who’ve been scapegoats as the death of the economy and sucking off the public dole and all of that inaccuracy, but moms in general have been misrepresented as constantly and perpetually and irrevocably at war with one another. The “Mommy Wars” is one of the longest-term stereotypes that just won’t die and it won’t die because it reliably sells magazines. It reliably raises ratings. If you put a mom on the cover of a magazine and say she’s at war with somebody else - working moms against stay at home moms, stay at home moms against working moms- it stokes a particular insecurity or tension. No matter who you are - if you’re a woman, it’s telling you that you fail and other women are the reasons for it. But the problem with that is, as E. J. Graff has so ably pointed out in a lot of her writing, working moms outside the home and stay-at-home moms are very often the same people at different parts of their life cycle. So the idea that women who have paid jobs outside of the home and women who raise children are never endingly at war with one another is just ludicrous. They’re the same women and they all have the same needs.”
On describing herself as an "anti-racist feminist":
"To me feminism means nothing if it’s not intersectional. We can't separate oppression. We can’t play what we like to call in the field, “Oppression Olympics” and think that anybody’s gonna win that way. Gender and race and class and sexuality are all inextricably linked and if you don’t have a race analysis in analyzing gender, then you’re not accurate and you’re not comprehensive...There were a lot and there continues to be a lot of people within feminism who don’t understand and don’t frankly care about racial justice, and the need to prioritize women of color and their needs, just as intrinsically as white women’s needs."
Roslyn McCallister Brock is the youngest person and fourth woman ever elected as Chairman of the NAACP.
On Michelle Obama and Ann Romney's roles as Moms-in-Chief
"The backdrop over both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention was really about what do we want, and what are our hopes and dreams for our children for the future of this nation? What kind of economy, what kind of healthcare system, and what kind of educational system will we leave for our children? [Michelle Obama] speaks to that when she says, “I am in fact Mom-in-Chief. I’m concerned about not only my children but this children of this nation as well.”
"[Ann Romney] in fact is a Mom-in-Chief, because she kept the family together while Mitt Romney was being educated and advancing the family. He talked about his having to travel a lot when he was building Bain Capital. But she was a constant stable force, not only in his life, but also in the life of her sons; and that’s a powerful statement. And it really speaks to the powerful nature of women in our society in terms of nurturing leaders."
On women being front and center at both conventions
"We should look at that visual; that women can lead. If they are nurturing leaders and they know what it takes to be effective leaders, it would seem to me that the nation would one day be willing to elect a woman to be its Commander-in-Chief."
Tamara Winfrey Harris is an author whose work focuses on race and gender, and their intersection with pop culture and politics.
On her “Clutch” magazine article and the reaction to the Mom-In-Chief critiques:
"[Black women] never were the recipients of the idea of this submissive, on a pedestal, nurturing stereotype. As a matter of fact, a lot of stereotypes you hear about black women are exactly the opposite. Our role as mothers is not revered in the way that the motherhood of white women is. So some of that critique didn’t take into account the context of who Michelle Obama is and what her race is, and for a lot of black women, even feminists, seeing a black woman standing on stage who can be revered for being awesome and smart and she’s athletic and stylish; but also she’s a mom and seeing her revered that way felt revolutionary to us, not business as usual…”
“We’re talking about the ways that oppressions intersect. For instance, I’m a woman but I’m also an African American woman. And so there are certainly ways that I am marginalized as a woman and there are ways that I’m marginalized as a black woman and there are ways that those two oppressions intersect. And you could say the same thing for say, working class women or poor women, where there is a class intersection. Class may intersect with race. So oppressions intersect with each other and can act on any given person.”
Lisa Belkin is the Huffington Post’s Senior Columnist on Life/Work/Family
On her reaction to the First Lady’s use of the Mom-In-Chief title:
“My take was it was an absolutely transcendent, lyrical, amazing speech; that it was one of those things where you kind of hold your breath because you don’t want to hear yourself breathe because it will get in the way of what you’re listening to. She was soaring. She was oratorically soaring, and after all sorts of analogies that invoke Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers and the future and the past, then she says, “But my most important role is Mom-in-Chief.” And, I fell with her then. I thought that it was pandering. I thought it was saying, “Hey I can be this remarkable strong powerful woman but there, there, it’s okay, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I’m a mother. Don’t let the rest of it scare you.” So I was taken aback by it. I was troubled by it.”
On policies that should be pushed forward by both campaigns:
“It’s moms, dads, and folks with families. It is not just moms; and that’s the first biggest step is to envision and then sometimes re-envision everything as family polices, not maternal policies. I think they’re all on the table already. We’ve been talking about the same ones for years. They all have to do with flexibility... they have to do with child care, respect for childcare and access to childcare, which would change absolutely everything; and mandatory maternity leave like every other westernized country on the planet would go a very, very long way. I said mandatory maternity leave recently and someone said, “You mean you’re going to force women to take it?” I said no, no no, the companies, the companies would have to offer it.”
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