This is a continuation of my post from yesterday. Read that first, if you hadn't already, then come back here. I'll wait.
Now. Let's talk for a minute about this godawful mess.
Its pretty straightforward, really. TIME's circulation numbers are declining. The sensationalizing of a mother nursing a toddler was about nothing more than selling magazines by using a racy cover and getting women all fired up about attachment parenting and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding's a hot topic, we all know that. How better to stop the heavy bleeding than to boost your popularity with a Mommy War?
Not to be out-wankered by TIME, Dell gave IT professionals in Copenhagen a remarkably transparent view of its company's disregard for women. Christiane Vejlo's article in Elektronista provides a compelling narrative of a professional event where the invited speaker provided delightful entertainment with such cutting-edge statements as, "The IT business is one of the last frontiers that manages to keep women out. The quota of women to men in your business is sound and healthy” and "We can thank women for the rolling pin." He closed his speech by encouraging the men in the room to go home and employ the phrase "shut up bitch."
(Not that I'd buy a crappy Dell or that I was even thinking about buying a crappy Dell, but any potential prospect of me purchasing a Dell product has now dwindled from "improbable" to "over my dead, menstruating body.")
Why Dell would consider having Mads Christensen, a so-called "inspirational speaker" who is apparently infamous for his misogynistic views on women a) give a keynote at a conference sure to be attended by both men and women and b) not have any potential keynote address vetted for suitability? If they were trying to lend credibility to the notion that Dell is s corporation without a clue. Or perhaps they're hoping to pick up some sales from US Senators and employees at TIME?
Two of these recent stories illustrate rather well how women continue to be marginalized and disregarded by our government, by corporations and by society in general. I don't believe for one second, though, that we are in immediate danger of being shoved back into the kitchen with bare feet, at least unwillingly. Maybe in our current economic situation we don't have as much choice about our careers and our families as we would like to, but in contrast with women who lived in a world where they were considered to be the property of men, our choices are vast and endless. What's important is that we don't allow ourselves to be distracted from our long and diligent assault on the barriers that patriarchal and religious leaders have erected to prevent us from taking power.
But the other two stories, these stories and the aftermath of them represent an enormous problem.
Women, what the hell is wrong with us? We are smarter than this and yet we are still allowing ourselves to be pulled into competition with other women over which of our choices as women and mothers are the right choices.
Why are we so eager to criticize and judge each others parenting choices? Why do we even for one moment buy in to the notion that the Mommy Wars must exist? Are we so defensive about our individual parenting choices that we must react every time the media attempts to tell us we're "not good enough?"
We are letting ridiculous conversations about how long we should be nursing our babies to drown out the conversation we should be having about how we make sure that our choices as women and as mothers are respected and upheld in society. We should be talking about how over 50% of the middle managers in corporate America are women and how great it is that corporate America finally figured out what families have known forever, that women are terrific at herding cats. (Kids, cats, administrative assistants, what's the difference?) We should be talking about how we support families and children in this economy, when the line between eating and starving is growing wafer-thin. We should be talking about how to ensure that our children are healthy and educated, in an environment where our politicians are taking money away from schools and children's services. We should be talking about how to make sure our young men and women have an opportunity to have an affordable college or trade school opportunity.
If you look at the media these days, we're not having any of these conversations. We're standing on either side of dividing lines that, relative to the actual problems we have, don't really mean anything.
Does it hurt you if Jamie Grumet nurses her three year old?
Does it hurt you if one mom goes to work and one mom doesn't?
Change has been happening for a long time when it comes to respecting and acknowledging the rights of women and the contributions that women make in our world. Not all change comes fast, and sometimes we see the archaic remnants of old and irrelevant attitudes tottering around and trying to get people to believe they're still in the game. They're not.
Unless we let them, which is exactly what happens when we allow ourselves to mindlessly engage in finger pointing at other women because of invented controversies crafted by in increasingly irresponsible media.
If you really want to waste your precious time being mad about something, be mad at the media that manipulates us with their garbage. Because being mad at other women just because they aren't being the women you think they should be is about as useful as an umbrella to a duck.