Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Motherhood Movement: A New Feminism

I came across this piece in the NY Times by Katharine Seelye, "Women, Politics and the Internet."

What really caught my attention was the mention of Momocrats, a progressive community blog of online mothers who are pulling their resources to effect political change.

Momocrats was started last month by a group of mothers who are all noted bloggers in their own right and who cross-post on each other’s blogs (CityMama, TechMama, LawyerMama, PunditMom and the Silicon Valley Moms Blog), which are generally about daily life with a dose of politics.

“We belong to this community of mothers who blog and we see the need to bridge the gap between the campaign and the community,”

Many argue that American society is overly skewed towards the masculine. By marginalizing the feminine, the argument goes, society becomes overly militaristic, and individualistic, creating a society in a state of disequilibrium.

Lawyer Mama has a very telling post, "Don't Call Us Traitors".

Things have changed in the last year. The situation in Iraq has worsened. More friends of friends or relatives and loved ones of co-workers have died. Now, in a few months my husband will be leaving the reserves after twenty years of service. It doesn't take a giant intellectual leap to figure out why. T doesn't want to leave our boys, ages 1 and 3. T is afraid, not for himself, but for our family.

This kind of honesty isn't often found in any mainstream discourse. Yet it must be how a great many men must feel but would not express outside their immediate families, for fear of being seen as weak and unpatriotic. She goes on;
Many of the people making our foreign policy decisions over the last seven years have distanced themselves from the human face of war. Those who disagree with the administration's policies have been called traitors and supporters of terrorism. But those who wrap themselves in the flag and stand on a pedestal and preach to us about the righteousness of military action have forgotten about the soldiers and their families. Every soldier that dies, and every Iraqi hurt as "collateral damage," is someone's child. They are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our wives and husbands.

This message is powerful, and especially powerful when voiced from mothers. That's effectively why Cindy Sheehan's message was so influential. It was a mother's voice who first gained traction and legitimacy as a voice of dissent and protest. We all know the history of how the establishment moved in every possible way to discredit her, but now, a multitude of mothers, many like Lawyer Mama who also have family in the military are joining voices and speaking out against the war.

However, the Motherhood Movement represents much more than opposition to the Iraq war. Mom’s Rising, a political action group co-founded by Joan Blades, founder of MoveOn.org, represents this kind of women/mother driven progressive advocacy;
Started this May 2006, MomsRising already has over 120,000 citizen members--and is growing by 500 to 4,000 per week lately, as well as more than eighty (and growing) aligned national organizations, working together to create positive solutions for the future.
The members of MomsRising are moving important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness, and are working to break the logjam that’s been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades. MomsRising is doing this by providing grassroots support to leaders and organizations addressing key issues such as paid family leave; flexible work options; after-school programs; healthcare for all kids; excellent childcare; realistic, fair wages; and paid sick days for all.

American men, as compared to other Western societies tend to be the least enlightened towards womens issues, and ultimately, how women's issues effect society as a whole. But these women, who are part of a "Motherhood Movement", are our wives, mothers, and sisters. Progressive mothers, and women in general, empowered with online communication and organizational tools are not only creating political power, but may also help bridge the gap between feminism as a female ideology and feminism as an important element to a progressive society. I think this movement will be the linchpin of any sustainable progressive socio-political realignment.