Remember back about a decade ago when it turned out that enough Americans were entertained by "bum fights" that enterprising filmmakers decided that money could be made by setting homeless guys up and encouraging them to engage in violent fistfights on camera? Remember that?
It was disturbing and predatory.
While TIME Magazine and its major media compatriots would certainly condemn setting up a dangerous physical conflict between vulnerable people to earn a dollar, TIME clearly isn't above creating its own philosophical "bum fight" to bring in revenue, and it's settled on American women as its pugilists.
With its much-discussed, inflammatory "Are You Mom Enough" cover this week, TIME became just the latest big media brand/publisher to laugh all the way to the bank as we moms dance and jab and argue endlessly on camera, just as they set us up to do. Only instead of this series being labeled "mommyfights," we get a title for our own media-manipulated, ever-escalating grudge match that's far grander and more violent sounding: we get "the mommywars."
But see, here's the thing about a war. It can only happen if the foot soldiers - the boots on the ground - agree to take up arms as instructed by the powers that be, and then actually do go at each other per the strategic directives being issued by whomever thinks they're running the show.
But what if the grunts in the war who are allowing themselves to be treated like so many game pieces in a real life, very profitable game of Stratego simply and quietly stopped? I'm not talking about turning the fight against their overlords, but instead about passive, non-violent resistance, a la Ghandi?
When that happens, game over.
And that, fellow American mamas, is what I propose that all of us - myself very much included - start doing as of yesterday, Mother's Day 2012, an American holiday actually born of women's peace activism.
I propose that tomorrow become the first day of a nationwide, grassroots, maternal campaign of non-violent resistance against the profit-driven institutions which continue to find ways to manipulate us into voluntarily ripping our own sisters-in-arms to shreds for public entertainment, thus creating a sleight of hand by which any energy or interest that might exist within our own ranks for addressing the real economic and social issues that impact us and our kids is effectively diverted, diluted and silenced.
I know what many of you might be thinking, because you shared some angry thoughts when I made this very same proposal on my personal blog the other day. Some folks believe I have no standing to suggest stopping the mommywars given that 13 years ago I wrote a book about attachment parenting. My response to that is that 13 years, one divorce, two more children and one lost child later, I would not write the same book. While I continue to be a strong advocate for breastfeeding and co-sleeping, the cultural landscape for women has become markedly polarized in a way I could not have predicted. I've realized I can't debate the Mommy wars away, and what is needed is a radically different direction. I believe dialing back the conflict is now more important than advocacy for any specific parenting practice.
So let's seize this as the the day when individually and collectively, we all say enough. The day when we end these godforsaken, destructive, exploitative and made-up "mommywars" once and for all by sitting down wherever we are and simply refusing to engage any further.
Let's start letting the whole of American media and punditry know tomorrow that we hereby declare that from here on out, if the question they're asking us is, "Are you mom enough?" every single one of us plans to shrug our shoulders diffidently in response, and simply concede - as Lisa Belkin has already done - that nope, we aren't. "No. I Am Not Mom Enough," Belkin's piece proclaimed. Not one single one of us is "mom enough," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. And next time any of us is asked - collectively or singly - the only thing the asker will be getting in response is a daisy or maybe a cookie, offered up with an enigmatic grin and perhaps one of Abbie Hoffman's more amusingly (and purposely) absurd quotes.
When NONE of us is "mom enough," when we ALL simply forfeit the fight they want us to have with one another right at the outset, there are no "sides" in the "mommywars." And without two opposing sides, there is no war. By passively conceding, and then refusing to take up arms, we will effectively suck every bit of possible dramatic tension right out of their planned, profit-driven story arc.
As part of our new campaign of passive resistance against the war the media wants us to fight in order to sell more advertising against our conflict, if anyone asks one of us to pose for the cover of a magazine in a way clearly designed to inflame another round of "bumfights," we will politely decline. And conversely, if we are expected to rage and rant against a fellow mother who does make the choice to pose for such a cover, we'll defy those expectations with a thundering and enigmatic silence.
That's how I see this thing working. And that's what I plan to do, starting now.
So who's with me? Who will join my proposed campaign of non-violent resistance against the "mommywars," which, with a hat tip to Belkin, I hereby dub the "Not Mom Enough Movement?" (I'll order the t-shirts this week if anybody wants one.)
Who will help me get the word out to other moms via social media (how about #notmomenough for a campaign Twitter hashtag?), office water cooler, assembly line grapevine and playground mom-chat?
This is how we can make this happen amongst our own ranks, without relying on major media to define the Not Mom Enough Movement for us. We can be our own media on this one.