Susan Douglas Essay

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One of the things the women's movement did was raising groups where women got together and talked about the myths surrounding the men and how to challenge them.

Women need to get together today."She says the book is a guide for women to take action. Your three-year-old is writhing on the floor, screaming, because you have refused to buy her a Teletubby pinwheel.

We know that building a scale model of Versailles out of mashed potatoes may not be quite as crucial to good mothering as Martha Stewart Living suggests.

Yet here we are, cowed by that most tyrannical of our cultural icons, Perfect Mom.

To distract yourself, and to avoid the glares of other shoppers who have already deemed you the worst mother in America, you leaf through People magazine.

Inside, Uma Thurman gushes "Motherhood Is Sexy." Moving on to Good Housekeeping, Vanna White says of her child, "When I hear his cry at six-thirty in the morning, I have a smile on my face, and I'm not an early riser." Another unexpected source of Earth-mother wisdom, the newly maternal Pamela Lee, also confides to People, "I just love getting up with him in the middle of the night, to feed him or soothe him." Brought back to reality by stereophonic whining, you indeed feel as sexy as Rush Limbaugh in a thong. Now, if you were a "good" mom, you'd joyfully empty the shopping bags and transform the process of putting the groceries away into a fun game your kids love to play (upbeat Raffi songs would provide a lilting soundtrack).

She says, "Just imagine what would happen if, next week most mothers of America sat down and e-mailed their presidential candidate or congressional candidate of choice and said: 'When are you going to finally start paying attention to mothers and children in public policy? "Read an excerpt from "The Mommy Myth's" Introduction: It's P. Your six-year-old is whining, repeatedly, in a voice that could saw through cement, "But mommy, puleeze, puleeze" because you have not bought him the latest "Lunchables," which features, as the four food groups, Cheetos, a Snickers, Cheez Whiz, and Twizzlers.

Your teenager, who has not spoken a single word in the past four days except, "You've ruined my life," followed by "Everyone else has one," is out in the car, sulking, with the new rap-metal band Piss on the Parentals blasting through the headphones of a Discman.

This book is about the rise in the media of what we are calling the "new momism": the insistence that no woman is truly complete or fulfilled unless she has kids, that women remain the best primary caretakers of children, and that to be a remotely decent mother, a woman has to devote her entire physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual being, 24/7, to her children.

The new momism is a highly romanticized and yet demanding view of motherhood in which the standards for success are impossible to meet.

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