Taking readers on a provocative tour through thirty years of media images about mothers -- the superficial achievements of celebrity moms, the sensational coverage of dangerous day care, the media-manufactured "mommy wars" between working mothers and stay-at-home moms, and more -- The Mommy Myth contends that this "new momism" has been shaped by out-of-date mores, and that no matter how hard they try, women will never achieve it. In this must-read for every woman, Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels shatter the myth of the perfect mom and all but shout, "We're not gonna take it anymore!"
Does Martha Stewart make you feel like you never do enough for your kids? Do "celebrity mom" profiles leave you feeling lumpen and inadequate? That's because they're supposed to, say Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels, authors of The Mommy Myth and self-professed "mothers with an attitude." Both scathing and self-deprecating, their pop-culture critique takes on "the new momism," the media's obsession with motherhood and the impossible standards which that obsession promotes. Today's ideal mom makes June Cleaver seem like a layabout: she may work outside the home, but never too much, always looks at the world through her children's eyes, makes sure to buy only educational, age-appropriate toys, and includes a loving note with each hand-prepared lunch. Meanwhile, the news media hype stories about child abduction, politicians excoriate so-called "welfare queens," and parenting experts advocate wearing your child in a sling until he moves out on his own. Romanticized, commercialized, sensationalized, and demonized by turns, today's mothers are damned if they work and damned if they don't; what’s more, the idea that the government might do something to help their plight has come to seem almost quaint. As a history of motherhood in the media from 1970 to the present, The Mommy Myth makes a fun and thought-provoking read. Yet close readings of episodes of thirtysomething don't create quite the call to arms the authors seem to have in mind; no woman likes to think of herself as a media dupe, particularly the kind of woman who will be reading this book. Straightforward policy critiques like their chilling chapter on childcare fare much better, illuminating a culture that seems to have forgotten public institutions' power to correct social ills. --Mary Park