Here we go.
Months ago, when I wasn’t even in my third trimester of pregnancy yet, I posted a little rant on facebook about the term “Mommy” when used as marketing lingo and how it really turned me off. (i.e. “Mommy cards”, “Mommy dates”, “Mommy bloggers” etc.) A few well meaning women (all mothers themselves) misunderstood my frustration and thought I was dissing the term itself, which led to me eventually deleting the entire thread from Facebook because I didn’t want to have to try to explain myself anymore. Otherwise I would repost the original discussion here for context.
To clarify- I have no problem at all with the word “Mommy”. It’s an affectionate term for children to use to refer to their moms. It’s sweet, it’s special, it’s totally fine. What irks me is when the term or any variant (Mom, in particular) is used as a marketing term. I know I’m not alone here. It tends to condescend by implying that “mommy” is the sole identity of the individual. I want to clarify just a bit further on this point before getting to my actual point: I acknowledge that motherhood CAN be all-consuming. And some women choose for motherhood to be their primary profession. That is a totally valid choice. But even if you are a full-time mom to one or five kids, and even if you feel like you’ve lost something of yourself in the night time feedings and sleep training books and white hot fiery passionate love for your babies, “Mommy” is not ALL that you are. This is why I find it condescending when marketers attempt to reach women with children by referring to them as Mommy. That’s a term for children to use for their mother figure. Not for a group of suits in a board room to strategically place on their packaging.
Now all of this is a preface to provide some background and explain my stance on the word as a marketing term, and which will hopefully illuminate why it’s easy for me to perceive the ways that “Mom” gets used in a derogatory fashion.
My example today comes from a Todd in the Shadows video. My husband and I very much enjoy the music critic from the media-review site That Guy with the Glasses. Not only is his annoyance with bad music entertaining, but the guy genuinely loves music and knows what he’s talking about. But in a recent review of the song All About that Bass, he made a reference to what he called “Mom Music”, used as a derogatory term to describe music that is cheerful, innocuous, completely free of anything edgy (i.e. boring).
I’ll be the first to agree that Kidz Bop-esque music is stupid and I’ll have none of it. But seriously, Todd? Mom music? What you’ve implied is that once a woman pushes a child out of her body, she becomes bland and not worth paying attention to. This is such an ingrained attitude that we don’t notice it at first. Mom jeans? (Yes, I think the SNL skit is hilarious, the stick up my butt isn’t THAT big.) The term MILF (which implies that finding a woman who has given birth attractive is a rarity deserving of its own designation)? I’m a mom, and I like Beyonce and Metallica and Billie Holiday. So either you’ve got to stop listening to those artists because it turns out they’re uninteresting, or “mom music” is a really stupid blanket term that uses a crappy attitude about a huge group of women to make a point that could certainly have been made in a plethora of other ways, with a bit of thought. I gave one example earlier- call it Kidz Bop music instead, which is totally deplorable and scorn-worthy (I’m not backing down on that one).
I don’t want to be the one to find misogyny under every rock, but I can’t help but wonder about the negative connotation so often lurking beneath the word Mom. It just isn’t present in the same way with Dad, and it’s distressing to me. Without slipping into full-on Martyr Mode, can we at least acknowledge that of all the groups on earth, moms deserve more respect than that? The physical ordeal of childbirth itself should be enough to invite a measure of respect, not to mention the next 18 years of physical, emotional, and spiritual nurturing. I’m not saying to put mothers on a pedestal- they’re human, obviously. But the stuff they are getting ridiculed for- the way the shape of their body changes that is entirely outside of their control (did you know that during childbirth the pelvic bones actually widen and never ever go back together?), the overwhelming instinct to protect their offspring at all costs (even if it means listening to the most innocuous music in the world to protect those perfect innocent ears from profanity), isn’t really the kind of stuff our society has any right to be making fun of.
I don’t see this as an issue of being politically correct by never using the term “mom” outside of a literal context. By and large I don’t find political correctness to be especially constructive (although it’s wise to choose your words carefully and not use terms that you KNOW may be hurtful). But now that I’ve got 8 whole weeks of motherhood under my belt (I know, I know. Please save your applause until the end), this kind of thing really gets under my skin and very quickly sends my brain down the rabbit hole of questioning my worth as a person. In this time of sleep deprivation, leaky boobs and agonizing over the three little stretch marks on my softened tummy, the last thing I need is to also agonize over the way that society perceives me now that I have a child. I am already agonizing over every little choice that I make. Obviously the issue isn’t going to just magically disappear and I need to get a grip on how sensitive I am to it. But maybe, if you’re reading this, you could just consider thinking twice before the next time that you use the term “mom” to label something as bland, dorky, or uninteresting.
Ultimately, I’ll be okay even if the problem never goes away, because as a mom of an infant I have complete control of a helpless and adorable tiny human, which means I can put a cow hat on him whenever I want and he can do nothing about it.