Like I've Said About a Thousand Times.....

Y'all...I read way too much Clutch Magazine (bold emphasis mine):
Motherhood sells, according to an April 27, 2012, article in The New York Times. Whether you’re a fading female star searching for a second act or a party girl looking for a redemption story, announcing a pregnancy can be a path to attention in the form of paparazzi shots, reality TV deals and maternity/baby clothing lines. Tabloids bid heartily for shots of “baby bumps” and days-old celebrity spawn. And the public eats it up obsessively.

All this attention is both a reflection of gender bias and it is hypocrisy. The evidence is who is left out in the deification of parenthood and the fact that tabloid covers don’t translate into real, concrete support for everyday women.

The commercialization of parenthood is squick-making, but more disturbing is the attention paid to the childbearing (or not) of famous women. As Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon wrote, “We are all – the famous and the not, the MTV teen moms and the pampered housewives, the perfectly dressed supermoms and the contentedly child-free – more than the contents of our uteri.” But tabloids are ambivalent about George Clooney’s childfree life but care mightily about Jennifer Anniston’s.

I agree with Nation writer Katha Pollitt who sees the phenomenon as another tentacle on that hulking leviathan that is the backlash against feminism. The media seeks to glamourize and celebrate traditional views of womanhood. It doesn’t get more traditional that a gestating woman. Better when actresses pontificate on such things as how “there’s no deeper want for a woman than to be a mother.”

But it is revealing who is generally left out of motherhood celebration. Black women, save Beyonce, are generally absent from the bump watch genre. (Though the media is awfully concerned about us being all single and too independent and having babies “the wrong way.”) As Deesha Philyaw wrote in her Bitch article about the dearth of “mommy memoirs” including the experiences of black women, “Low-income and working-class women, black women, and other women of color don’t see their mothering experiences and concerns reflected in the mommy media machine, and we get the cultural message loud and clear: Affluent white women are the only mothers who really matter.”

To wit, Jennifer Hudson got more shine for dropping weight than having a child.

But perhaps we should be glad that women of color are, for the most part, left out of the cultural fascination with baby bumps. Because as much as all this talk of motherhood seems like glorification, it in fact becomes a new way to criticize female celebrities in a way that male stars never are.

Beyonce’s glamorous pregnancy wasn’t real. Jessica Simpson’s was too real and too long. Jennifer Aniston is sad and barren. But Angelina Jolie, depending on the tabloid, is a brown baby collector; a neglectful mother; more in love with her bio kids than her adoptive ones; and the list goes on. Erykah Badu has too many baby daddies. Sandra Bullock is suspect for adopting a black child.

We want women to be mothers, but mothers never escape our criticism.

It would almost make you think that our society’s genuflecting to motherhood is more surface than substance. Huh. Matter of fact, our short parental leave standards, absence of affordable childcare, attacks on reproductive healthcare for women, low-paid childcare providers, dwindling social services and cuts to education reveal a societal hypocrisy. We love a baby bump and a glowing celebrity mommy, but when that bump becomes a baby, that little sucker and its mama better be able to fend for themselves
Tami Harris needs to quit reading my mind.

Comments

  1. truthbetold5/8/12, 3:55 PM

    K,
    That's why I stopped watching TV. Motherhood, wifehood, celebrity life...it's all the same. If you're black, it doesn't exist, except to point out all the things you're doing wrong. George Clooney is celebrated for being the eternal bachleor. Ms. Aniston is shamed for not being able to "keep" a man.

    The same with Oprah, " Why doesn't she just get married already", Winfrey. You know something sad? It's a pity these white women don't realize they are being used. The media could care less about their bedroom/nursery antics. They are just cash cows for the stalkarazzi.

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    Replies
    1. Leo Princess5/8/12, 11:48 PM

      "The same with Oprah, " Why doesn't she just get married already", Winfrey."

      Ugh. I remember seeing comments from people lamenting that Oprah didn't have children to inherit her wealth. <_< Yea...in order to be Oprah while being a mother, she'd have to have had nannies - and the same tongue-cluckers would be up in her back about letting 'the help' raise her babies while she built her empire. I don't hear Ms. Winfrey crying about being childless, so I don't know why it bothers other people so much.

      Delete
    2. Bingo. Lord knows I'm no fan of Sarah Palin, but that woman pushed out a kid over a weekend and was back in the office on Monday. Her reward? People bitching about how her kids would never see if she ever became Vice President.

      You can't win. If you're a woman and you don't want kids, something's "wrong" with you. If you have them but the dad decides to up and leave - for whatever reason - that's your fault. If your kids only see you early in the morning and late in the evening because you have to work to support them, you're a bad mother. If you make good money and have a live-in nanny to help because you want to comfortably feed, house, and educate your kids for up to 2.5 decades, you're still a bad mother.

      The only time you're a good mom is when you're pregnant. Before and after that, you're either a barren shrew or a bad mother.

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    3. I love children and I love the idea of having the ideal set up to raise a family. But if I had a husband who thought he cold walk out on me and our kid I'd drop that sucker off right at ex-hubby's house and go on with life. I'll see 'em on the weekend.

      I don't see why I should do anymore than he would do.

      Delete
  2. I was just thinking about this when I saw a report on Yahoo. This time of privilege is hardly extended to people of minority status whether they be women of color, poor women, working class women, etc. I get tired of all this media bullshit, trying to convince me, and failing miserably, that Jessica Simpson's baby bump is relevant to my life. That bitch aint really done shit for over ten years. And then her sister gets caught lip-syncing like the spoiled wonder she is.

    Most of this is just acting. This media hyper culture isn't real, it's designed to entertain and distract you.

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  3. This covers a lot of why I don't have children.I love kids and babies but Amerikkka does not support mothers or families 'et all.

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    Replies
    1. No. American society is not conducive at all to child-rearing.

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  4. Leo Princess5/8/12, 11:44 PM

    "But tabloids are ambivalent about George Clooney’s childfree life but care mightily about Jennifer Aniston’s."

    A-fricking-MEN! If a female celebrity was George's age with no children and string of past partners, there would be all sorts of speculations on her sexuality, on her mental state ("why can't she commit?!"), on her fertility ("Star Seeks Surrogate" - *insert any tabloid rag here*),etc. If she has a much younger partner, it's cougar jokes for months. Meanwhile, being a young thing on George's arm can get you a magazine cover (Seriously, wtf was that? That woman wasn't even a celebrity in her own right!).

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  5. America loves pregnancy, not motherhood or womanhood. Pregnancy means you're complying with the patriarchal rule that you can't be fulfilled unless you pass a baby through your vagina. When you're pregnant, you're not a woman, you lose your self-identity and become a baby-incubator. That becomes really evident when some stranger decides to put their grubby hands all over your "baby bump", or abortion keeps getting restricted, or your ob/gyn doesn't follow your birth plan.

    Once that baby is out, shit gets real and they realize that it takes a village to raise a child and they don't want their tax dollars going to help some slut single mother with her probably-going-to-prison-in-18-years child.

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  6. Excellent Article and commentary Ankh. I too have noticed the glaring absence of all women from this yummy mummy narrative. It does seem like a slapback against feminism as both movements are focussed mainly on wait....affluent/middle class white women. Patriarchy needs to about die already. it amazes me the stigma and hardships facing women who want to have kids and the fundamental lack of affordable safe governmental support and social structures. I mean, it's the way we get new humans people. SMH

    ReplyDelete
  7. America loves pregnancy, not motherhood or womanhood. Pregnancy means you're complying with the patriarchal rule that you can't be fulfilled unless you pass a baby through your vagina. When you're pregnant, you're not a woman, you lose your self-identity and become a baby-incubator. That becomes really evident when some stranger decides to put their grubby hands all over your "baby bump"...

    Lord, I swear, this right heah!!!

    I would love to see more pregnant women snap and beat the fuck out of some random person who thinks that their bump is for public consumption. Hulk-on-Loki style.

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    Replies
    1. Me too. I'd love to read an article in which a pregnant woman knocked the shit out of some random stranger for touching her baby bump.

      Delete

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