I do wonder if the column inches dedicated to blaming mothers for just about everything from global warming, obesity, the nation’s drink problem and goodness only knows what else are a sign that actually the traditional world is feeling a bit threatened by us – why else spend so much time obsessing about how to make it all Our Fault?
Mothers now are far more visible than traditionally – the rise of the Mumsnet election was a sign that our generation of mothers is now seen to have influence and be influencers – we aren’t tied to the kitchen sink, having children doesn’t have to automatically mean that we disappear from our pre-children world into a parallel society of coffee mornings and play dates and, with obvious carveouts for days when ‘loungewear’ is the only practical outfit choice after a broken night of no sleep, we haven’t disappeared into a world of bad fashion and becoming Mumsy
And then there is social media – the blogs, twitter, facebook and so on that mean that this generation of women is more visibly outspoken and has voices that can be heard a lot further than the bottom of the garden – women have embraced social media as a way of speaking out, having voices and creating a community in a way that our male partners just haven’t
Perhaps it is this voice, this visibility that is part of the problem – suddenly mothers are not just someone you run to when you bump your knee, but women who are demonstrating that we have consumer power and aren’t afraid to use it, who are happy to discuss politics and the issues of the day probably whilst wiping someone’s nose and who aren’t afraid to be pushed into the background just because we happen to have used our uteruses to grown another human
And how do people deal with things that they feel threaten them? By belittling and deriding – hence the rise in the term Mumtrepreneur which seems to me to say ‘well done little woman on managing to have a little business and a family’. I don’t think anyone has suggested that Jamie Oliver is a Dad-trepreneur just because he’s built a business alongside having several children? How many interviews do you see with male business types where they are asked how they have managed to juggle having a family with their job? How many times are they asked at dinner parties if they really think they ‘have it all’?
Has anyone coined an equivalent Daddy term that mimics the horror that is ‘yummy mummy’ – a term that manages to reduce mothers down to being ranked on nothing more than their ability to have bred and how attractive someone else finds them. I think on reflection that MILF almost seems palatable, even if for some reason it makes me think of smurfs (sorry, scary insight into the workings of my brain)
I’m not sure the likes of Heat or Grazia run columns regularly on whether Brad Pitt looks hot when looking after his children or whether he put on a few pounds in sympathy during a pregnancy and then didn’t lose it within seconds of the baby arriving… no? Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t think that would sell magazines?
So perhaps the prevalence of these horrible terms isn’t a bad thing but a sign that mothers are finally being recognised as a force to be reckoned with?