Lately I’ve observed a troubling trend. The bleeding news that leads frequently starts with something like “A mother of three…,” as in “A mother of three was found murdered in her home” or “A grandmother was brutally raped.” And it got me thinking…are only tragedies involving mothers newsworthy? Would it be any less tragic if the victim was, say, for example, me?
It’s not just in the primetime news slots that I see this occurring. Three recent shows in Oprah’s final season were titled “The Bravest Mom in the World is Set Free” (9/22), “The Mom Who Fathered Her Own Children” (9/29), and “One Mom, 20 Personalities” (10/6). In each case, I can’t imagine the story would be any less impactful if we substituted the word “Woman” for “Mom.”
Who’s behind this? Did some big marketing study show that “Mom” is a buzzword that attracts viewers (and advertisers)? Is there some sinister plot afoot to further ostracize women without babies? What does it say about our society that being a mom makes you a better story? And how does all this make us, women who are childfree, feel about ourselves?
Me, I’m kind of pissed. But I’m not ready to carry a sign, write angry letters, or start an impassioned campaign online. I already feel marginalized, and I don’t want to subject myself to the “you-must-be-a-child-hating-anti-mom-bitch” response I fear would come.
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com.