The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women Hardcover – Feb 3 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In the idealized myth, mothers and babies spend their days discovering the wonders of life, reading, playing and laughing. Mom wears her baby in a sling, never raises her voice and of course has unlimited time and patience. Baby grows up safe, happy and respectful. In real life, however, it's a different story. Douglas (Where the Girls Are) and Smith College philosophy professor Michaels, "mothers with an attitude problem," blow the lid off "new momism," "a set of ideals... that seem on the surface to celebrate motherhood, but which in reality promulgate standards of perfection that are beyond [a mother's] reach." The authors examine the past 30 years of television, radio, movies, magazines and advertising to show that the bar has been increasingly raised for "the standards of good motherhood while singling out and condemning those we were supposed to see as dreadful mothers" (notably harried working mothers). Using ample humor (e.g., buy the wrong toys and your child will "end up a semiliterate counter girl in Dunkin' Donuts for life"), abundant examples and an approachable style, Douglas and Michaels incriminate not just Republican administrations and Dr. Laura, but also celebrity mothers, Drs. Spock and the evening news. While the authors are occasionally repetitive and sometimes condescend to moms who stay at home, their thought-provoking, accessible foray critiquing new momism will be of interest to liberal mothers-and possibly fathers-helping them to judge the media's images of motherhood with a more critical eye.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Douglas and Michaels have fashioned an absolutely fascinating expose of the media- generated motherhood frenzy that they dub the "new momism." Fed up with the trumped-up myth of maternity promulgated by TV shows, movies, advertising, women's magazines, and the news since 1970, they analyze, in scathing detail, how and why motherhood has become the number-one media obsession during the last three decades. Explaining, in convincing detail, how these idealized images have actually harmed childless women, working mothers, and stay-at-home moms, they link the current emphasis on "intensive mothering" to a powerful conservative subculture determined to "re-domesticate the women of America through motherhood." Although hampered, at times, by a somewhat strident tone, this eye-opening report contains a wealth of valuable insight into the never-ending, and ultimately self-defeating, quest for the maternal perfection glorified by contemporary American society. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
The title is a bit misleading because after reading the book, I do not have the impression that the authors feel that motherhood, or even the idealization of it is what undermines women. It is much more complex that that. They rail against the politicians who voted to subsidize daycare, the media who sensationalizes every abduction and every crime committed by a caregiver, and against those who strive to pit mothers against other mothers. They explain feminism and detail how feminists are friends to the stay at home mothers and housewives as opposed to a foe like some in the media would lead us to believe.
They also talk about the "celebrity mom." You know, the one who appears on the cover of the women's' magazines at the checkout line in the grocery store at her prepregnancy weight gushing over an angelic three month old. These mothers talk about how motherhood is so much better than any movie role. However, many of these mothers have full time nannies and housekeepers allowing them to be fun mothers while pushing the stressful jobs off on someone else. Some of these mothers, whom the media portrays as so 'devoted' even have nannies to do the nighttime feedings for them!Read more ›
However, after I got this message, established in the opening chapters of the book, the mocking tone that the authors are fond of using began to grate and I feel that they take their hypothesis too far.
I appreciate the section regarding welfare mothers and the illuminating contrasts of media representations of moms. I like being reminded that I don't have to love and adore parenting every single moment in order to be a good parent. (Though the authors seem to believe that the only way to combat not loving every moment is to get away to your real job and make sure the kids are in a comprehensive system of government sponsored child care.)
However, the authors seem to clearly feel like there is a right way to mother--and that is to reject the cozy media images of motherhood that tell you the right way to mother (ironic, eh?). They do not seem to believe that there are mothers out there who truly believe in homeschooling, homebirthing, babywearing, extended breastfeeding, etc. and who enjoy their lives with their children (not all aspects, granted, but do enjoy it). Or, if they do recognize that some mothers are committed to these concepts, they seem to feel that those mothers have stupidly bought into a vast conspiracy to undermine women (not that they might hold these ideals because they actually make sense!).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book should be given out at every hospital/birthing center/etc - to any new or experienced American mother. Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by L. Johnson
My primary criticism of the book is the authors' blatant disrespectful attitude toward people with opposing viewpoints as well as inadequate research. Read morePublished on July 15 2004 by JZB
In the words of Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels; - "Then there is "babywearing. Read more
I am grateful for a book that tells the truth -- we moms CAN'T do it all, and DON'T NEED to do it all -- and certainly not at the level that our hyper-competitive society happens... Read morePublished on June 5 2004
Anyone who concludes that to be a good mother one must get a "real" job and dump their children in the hands of strangers is, in my opinion, immoral. Read morePublished on May 16 2004
Anyone who owns this book should also own "7 Myths of Working Mothers: Why Children and Most Careers Just Don't Mix. Read morePublished on May 11 2004
This book offers a highly critical take on the quite complex and often misrepresented topic of motherhood in America. Read morePublished on May 7 2004
This is a much-needed and valuable book on the myth of the perfect, ever-so angelic mother that seems to permeate American society day-in, day-out. Read morePublished on May 6 2004
This book uses content analysis to dissect the American culture of motherhood and how motherhood has changed over the last thirty years. Read morePublished on April 26 2004
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