After closing a pop-up ad for an article detailing “12 Shoes Every Woman Should Own” at Harper’s Bazaar, I was lectured by Jennifer Wright, writing for Harper’s Bazaar – you know, the shoe folks – about how unfair the media was to focus on Amal Clooney’s pregnancy fashions instead of her work at the United Nations. Now, you’d think a writer whose article is being published in a magazine whose focus is fashion would take a slightly less hypocritical tack when it comes to criticizing female-targeted media. But, that’s what you get when you’re still swimming in the same waters Gloria Steinem muddied over 50 years ago. Even the fish know bicycles are safer bets than that mucky pond.
Wright’s stereotypical attempt to lambaste a media more interested in commenting on Amal’s fashion than her political activism is a tired snoozefest, but one worth paying attention to because in it, she asserts that children don’t matter and mothers are useless:
Being a parent is a source of joy and challenge and meaning for many humans of all genders. But it’s not the most important job there is. It’s not even technically a job, insofar as it pays no money. It is more like a very demanding volunteer position that you can never, ever get out of.
And, as rewarding as that position may be, producing a younger person is not necessarily the main contribution people make to the world. People can probably not tell you how many children Harriet Tubman or Marie Curie or Elizabeth Cady Stanton had, but they can, hopefully, tell you what they did.
…This notion that motherhood is a woman’s most important job is a holdover from days when women couldn’t have many other jobs. And the glorification of a woman’s role as a mother has always been a breadcrumb intended to sate women who might otherwise demand to be more than mothers.
Tell that to the mothers of Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Oh, but all they did was give birth and prove themselves unable to escape the dreaded unpaid volunteer position known as motherhood. Harriet “Rit” Green, Harriet’s mother, was a slave and Marie Curie’s mother, Bronislawa Sklodowski, was involved in the fight for Polish independence. As for Margaret Livingston Cady, she suffered from the kind of severe depression that sets in after you lose six of your eleven children in early childhood. But, since none of them received a paycheck, they don’t matter. That is, at least, according to Jennifer Wright.
Wright, meanwhile, is an obscure 30-something swimming in a pool of obscure 30-something single female writers sure they’d be the next Carrie Bradshaw landing their own Mr. Big, only to wind up punctuating their resume of writing credits with statements like “her breakup cure is gin, reruns of 30 Rock and historical biographies.” Perhaps she should’ve tapped a few more of the latter before penning her latest piece for Harper’s Bazaar. But, I guess she doesn’t see the point in investing in the biographies of women who dared to prioritize motherhood over Netflix.
Ironically, Wright makes a living off of selling beauty, sex, dating, and fashion advice to women. She even started a website all about it. You’d think then she’d be a little less hypocritical when it comes to criticizing her media comrades for talking about what sells: Amal’s shoes, Amal’s dress and yes, Amal’s husband. That’s the real shame in her piece. Mothers have more important things to care about in life than Amal Clooney, who has to occupy serious real estate in Jennifer Wright’s mind, because if she doesn’t, how will Wright afford her next pair of shoes?
Wright is right about one thing: Motherhood isn’t a woman’s most important job, because it isn’t a job. It’s a choice, a lifestyle, and a calling designed for women who believe they can do more than simply work a 9 to 5 and who don’t need a corporate title after their name in order to feel validated. More importantly, motherhood is for women who are so radically energized by their unique power as women that they don’t have the time, let alone the interest to compare themselves to men. Mothers don’t need your breadcrumb philosophy, Jennifer. You do. After all, you’ve got to munch on something after drinking all that booze alone.