Mommy Wars Suck

Sat, September 1, 2007

Moms & Politics


Which war will we get out of sooner — the Iraq War or the Mommy Wars?

I would have bet on the Mommy Wars until things got just a teensy little bit out of control over at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog this week.

In a nutshell:

SVMom blogger Rebecca picked up on the New York Times piece about children on the campaign trail and decided to engage in a smackdown worthy of the WWF with Elizabeth Edwards. To say she criticized Elizabeth Edwards about her choices to go on the campaign trail with her children while she has cancer would be an understatement.

She called Edwards a “terrible” mother for that choice (though Rebecca later said she “changed her mind” on that one.) She also took on John Edwards and called for him to get out of the race since he’s just a spoiler for Clinton and Obama. It was quite an attack and I’m not sure what Rebecca thought she was going to accomplish. Criticism about presidential candidates is fair game, but is it really OK to go after a mom with cancer because you don’t personally agree with her parenting choices?

If she had only asked me ahead of time, I could have told her that Elizabeth Edwards would definitely take her out in a one-on-one match. Rebecca didn’t stand a chance.

Elizabeth Edwards, who, if you read about her speech at BlogHer you’ll know, has a Google Alert for her name (don’t we all?). So she saw this post and commented quite eloquently about the fact that no one has a right to criticize her, or any other woman, for their personal choices about mothering. You can find the link to her comment on my post about this over at D.C. Metro Moms Blog (which is a sister site of Silicon Valley Moms Blog).

Rebecca contended in some follow-up comments that, HEY, she was just trying to take a snarky and humorous approach to this story. Heh-heh!

That’s OK, but the more things heated up, the more Rebecca kept backing away from her original comments. She seemed a little amazed at all the attention her post got. But, if you’re going to put “snarky” and, I think, hurtful comments on your blog, especially about high profile people, you need to expect that you’re going to be called on the carpet.

So what do you think? Is it fair game for women bloggers to question Elizabeth Edwards’ decisions about taking her kids on the campaign trail? Is it fair to question what any mother decides about how to spend her time with her children?

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26 Responses to “Mommy Wars Suck”

  1. jen Says:

    It’s so typical – the decision to judge each other instead of wholeheartedly cheering each other on. Women are marginalized enough as is and yet we contribute to it again and again.

    A “terrible” mother? How about a woman whose convictions are so strong that even in a time where many of us would be sobbing in a dark room somewhere she is out there trying to make the world a better place.

    It’s far too easy to let cynicism dictate this election. Are we really going to allow our choices to come down to this?

    John Edwards is just about the ONLY candidate speaking out about poverty, and for anyone who reads me knows of the struggles I face daily working with the homeless and how much that could change if someone in power decided to care.

    While I haven’t decided on the election (and how can any of us when it is still so far away) I do know I am watching it closely and horrendous media aside, I know I will be looking for someone who gives a damn about the voiceless. And whether the Edwards are rich or poor or their children don’t always behave or they can’t deliver a quote worthy statement every single time it doesn’t matter. What matters is what they will fight for.

    Mrs. Edwards, I salute you. Pundit Mom, I salute you too.

  2. jen Says:

    i took it a bit further over my way. what can i say, you got me on a roll.

  3. Peg Says:

    Well said, Pundit Mom! You know, the article in the NYT that was the springboard for this was as obnoxious as it could have been. Rebecca took it even that much further.

    I am also undecided in this election. And unlike prior elections, I’ve been paying attention to it–I was invited to liveblog from the NH Presidential Debates back in June, which was quite an experience.

    To your question, PunditMom…no, I don’t think it’s our jobs as moms to judge others on their parenting decisions. Furthermore, if one is to make it’s one business, as written about on one’s blog, one is simply inviting criticism.

    The response by rebecca to all of this smacks, to me anyway, as a LOT of backpedalling, and not a lot of substance. She doesn’t like being called out on what she wrote, but had no compuction about writing it in the first place.

    If she didn’t want her picture with her kids put on GMA, perhaps she oughtn’t have had it up on SVMB. Just sayin’….

  4. SUEB0B Says:

    The candidates and their families are generally girded for criticism about everything from their hairstyles to their proposals on healthcare reform, aren’t they? Isn’t this just part of the fine old American tradition of ripping on people in power (or those who want to be in power)?

  5. Mrs. Chicky Says:

    Unfortunately, because she is a political figure some might perceive that Elizabeth Edwards is fair game. But to call her a “bad mother” is unfair. And wrong. I loved her response in the comments and I love that the blogger in question was forced to back down.

  6. growingupartists Says:

    It’s absolutely fair game. It’s an even better game when the contenders clarify their positions and refine their points of view. What better way to develop our communication skills. I’ve greatly enjoyed this spectacle and I look forward to more! Go team homeschool!

  7. Julie Pippert Says:

    By the time I heard about this from Peggy the original post was gone so I missed it. As I said to Peggy, I can’t figure out WHAT you can find to criticize unless you are looking to do so. It’s a nonissue to me. As I wrote to Elizabeth Edwards, I wish my kids had such a chance for a rich opportunity like this.

    Putting that aside, as a mom with a chronic dread disease too I TOTALLY understand wanting to maximize time with kids. My GOD. All of the sudden, when faced with your own freaking mortality, the rest of the usual priorities sort of fall away.

    My okay time is so infrequent these days that I want to be there with my kids when it happens.

    Add to that the neverending grief of a parent who has lost a child…well…

    Anyone who can’t get this at all is just a jerk. That simply.

    However.

    I am a fan of discussion and I LOVED that EE said she wanted to refine how she communicated what she does because she acknowledges they are under a microscope.

  8. PunditMom Says:

    Such wonderful, thoughtful comments all. Jen, didn’t mean to get you all worked up!

    I am really angry that original post was taken down. As they used to say, if you can’t stand the heat …

  9. Elizabeth Says:

    Like I’ve said before, there’s spirited discussion, and, then there’s just plain wrong.

  10. Jill Asher Says:

    Hi Punditmom… Jill here from SV and DC Metro Moms.

    Just so you know, the post was never taken down. You can view it here at:
    http://svmomblog.typepad.com/silicon_valley_moms_blog/2007/08/speak-to-the-pr.html

    Jill

  11. painted maypole Says:

    I haven’t seen the original, but I think the idea of questioning someone’s parenting choices is different than attacking them. For instance, I was at a party this evening where a friend of mine let all 3 of her children (ages 5-7) drink diet, caffienated soda. I question that choice, I don’t think it’s wise and can tell you why, but I’m not going to attack her for it, or use it to make generalizations about her ability as a mother.

  12. Julie Pippert Says:

    Jill, I got interested that I could see the original post so I followed your link but it still looks like the edited version to me. I was able to find a post that quotes a relevant portion of Rebecca’s original text. It provides a good context that explains better the response she got.

    It’s Karen Tumulty’s article at Time:

    http://time-blog.com/swampland/2007/08/elizabeth_edwards_and_the_mommy_wars.html

  13. jen Says:

    interesting that it was changed – because authors at SVMB need permission from the blog owners to post or edit live (they also approve all posts before they go live). whether as editors or authors we should stand by our words and perhaps instead write a new post as a follow up rather than an edit to an existing.

  14. Jill Asher Says:

    Jen.
    Actually, your comment is not correct.

    All the authors on SV Moms Blog, Chicago Moms Blog and DC Metro Moms Blog OWN their own content. They can keep up a post, remove a post or modify a post at any time. They own their words.

    What is true is that we have an editor that puts post in queue. Rarely, do we not allow a post to go up. And from time to time, we do ask the author to go in and add or take out some information.

    I hope this clarifies.

    Jill Asher
    Co-Founder, Silicon Valley Moms Blog

  15. JudesMommy Says:

    Rude and ruthless criticism simply demeans the one being critical. Someday perhaps women will realize this fact and then we can take the first steps in moving toward a more enlightened planet.

    Thanks PM. This nonsense about women taking potshots at Elizabeth Edwards is really the bottom of the barrel and I’m glad we have moms like you to call for logic in these times.

  16. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I’ll have to go check out Jen’s post. I thought Rebecca was gutsy to say what she honestly thought about the E & J Edwards as candidates. I don’t agree. I think I’ve been pretty outspoken about my hero worship for both John & Elizabeth Edwards. Where Rebecca stepped over the line was the judgment about the Edwardses as parents. No one has the right to do that.
    I admire Elizabeth Edwards so much that it was hard for me to read Rebecca’s post. I knew the gist of it before I even read it (I didn’t read it until after I saw your DC Metro Moms post), but once I did I saw red.
    I had to keep myself from posting a response because my reaction to the name calling and insults to EE as a MOTHER was so visceral I was afraid I would regress to name calling.
    I think Rebecca was trying to justify her post as an attack on public figures. But she went beyond their public lives and insulted their private, parenting decisions. I would never run for public office, but if I were in that situation, you bet your ass the kids would be with me on the campaign trail as much as possible.

  17. Momish Says:

    I think I read the edited post too, which I did not know at the time I was reading it until I got here and saw the comments.

    I am still appalled. I can’t believe that anyone would go so far. You are right, Mommy Wars Suck. Or should I say, Mean People Suck.

    Period.

  18. Becky Says:

    Makes me wonder why Elizabeth Edwards isn’t running for office. She stood up to Ann Coulter. She stood up to this accusation. Seems she’s not afraid of anything.

  19. my minivan is faster than yours Says:

    I’m a huge Elizabeth Edwards fan, and regarding the question you posed, my personal choice regarding my blog is it’s never to embarrass anyone.

    I almost got the feeling she was just looking for something to write (how I think I know that I have no idea) about and felt comfortable going on the attack because it was a public person. So unfair.

    Good for EE to defend herself!

  20. Amanda Says:

    I have a hard enough time imagining, as the mother to two girls, what parenting boys might be like. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around either, parenting as the spouse of a presidential candidate, or parenting with cancer. Combine the two? Good grief, I wouldn’t dare to point a finger in any direction.

    My heart aches for the Edwards family, who seem to have experienced more grief than any family should have to endure, famous or otherwise.

    I won’t hold my breath that the “mommy wars” will end in my lifetime. I will do what I can to stop contributing to the frenzy.

    Great post.

  21. Scribbit Says:

    Well it seems that Rebecca’s got some odd priorities. I mean if you’re looking to rid the world of bad moms there are so many to choose from that why would you go for someone dealing with the stress of a campaign and cancer treatment? Seems low, though I don’t think if someone is sick that they’re off-limits politically–that’s just the nature of politics and a free press. It’s just that this wasn’t a political issue, it was a family/parenting issue. Why didn’t she come up with a better Bad Mom? I guess people have grown tired of lambasting Brittney Spears and are looking for fresh meat.

  22. radical mama Says:

    I personally have great admiration for Elizabeth Edwards.

    But that aside, I think we would all look questionable if put under a microscope.

    Sooner or later, we’ll have to come to terms with the fact that our representatives are HUMANS. I kinda like the thought, but I seem to be in the minority these days.

  23. Shannon Says:

    We really don’t need to criticize other mothers’ decision about parenting, I think, unless there is abuse involved. Short of that, the decisions of parenting are personal and private. Even when someone is a public figure, there should be a line we willingly agree not to cross.

  24. Paige Says:

    Mommy Wars do indeed suck, PM, which is why I refuse to read any Mommy War-related posts unless they’re smart (or quite simply one of your pieces). It’s tiring, it’s old, it’s unnecessarily judgemental and it erodes my faith in the female bond.

  25. Ruth Dynamite Says:

    Thank you, Pundit Mom. We women should be cheering for each other, helping each other succeed, and lifting each other up.

    Shame on the original poster of venom she couldn’t defend. Hooray for Elizabeth Edwards for taking her on, and hooray for you.

  26. Nancy Says:

    The whole thing just made me angry. I thought the original post was irresponsible — it’s one thing to engage in intelligent discussion and debate, but quite another to resort to personal attacks and name calling to make a point.

    If it’s true that the post author just wrote her post in about 5 minutes, and didn’t think much about it ahead of time (as she contends) then she needs to learn to think before just running at the mouth.

    And don’t even get me started about her changing her argument mid-stride. Even though I thought her original post was mean spirited, she lost any credibility in my mind when she actually went in and edited parts. Certainly she has the right to change her mind, but it bothers me that she felt the need to go and alter her original remarks. Now the whole thread behind the commentary is lost.

    This whole debacle makes me worry that some people will judge women in general as unfit to comment on politics.

    And in response to your final question, here’s my answer: I think the dialogue and discourse about the presidential race should be focused on the issues that are truly significant to the future of this country. There are SO MANY of these that I can’t imagine we’d ever be left with time to consider a candidate’s spouse’s parenting decisions.


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