Make Truth, Not War

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 30, 2007

Just call her E.J. Graff, feminist myth-buster.

After debunking the idea that women in huge numbers were “opting out” of the workplace for a more domestic life, Graff, a senior researcher at the Brandeis Institute for Investigative Journalism, is now taking on the media’s latest construction: the “Mommy War Machine.”

Graff identifies a number of recent articles and talk-show topics that resurrect a long-standing story: the “juicy tale of mothers who work and moms who stay home, dissing each other on playgrounds and in school parking lots with junior-high-level bile.”

But this war is a fiction: “The ballyhooed Mommy Wars exist mainly in the minds — and the marketing machines — of the media and publishing industry, which have been churning out mom vs. mom news flashes since, believe it or not, the 1950s. All while the number of working mothers has been rising.”

Listen to Graff talk about “The Mommy War Machine” on Monday’s edition of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

Plus: “Ask This,” a project of the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, is running a series by Graff that suggests ways for reporters and editors to focus on what Ruth Rosen has called the “care crisis” in America. Here’s part one, part two and part three.

One response to “Make Truth, Not War”

  1. The link to The Nation’s article “care crisis” was very powerful. I am currently in a social justice course at my college where we are addressing the care crisis issue, and I think that it is ridiculous that women feel the need to choose between family and work and that the US can’t seem to make policy that will end a woman’s need to make that decision. One of the facts stated in the article is: “A just-released study by researchers at Harvard and McGill found that of 173 countries studied, 168 guarantee paid maternal leave–with the United States joining Lesotho and Swaziland among the laggards.” One of the most important things to remember when thinking about this care crisis is the fact that although it affects women immensely, it affects society as a whole just as much. The fact that Americans can’t see the need for sick days, vacation time, and a revolutionized way of living instead of trying to balance 1,000 things at once, is scary.

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