Jessica Gottlieb/Dr.Phil reviving the mommy wars

Dr.Phil pimped the never-ending, though completely effective tool in the continuing subtle subjugation of women, working mom versus stay at home mom “discussion” on yesterday’s episode.

I didn’t see the episode but for this clip. I didn’t follow the Tweetie skirmish. I did follow a bit of the conversation at Jessica Gottlieb’s blog. Yes, the Jessica in the clip. I didn’t learn anything new. I didn’t hear anything I haven’t heard for a decade or more. The argument is tired and ultimately pointless. Why? Because women are idiots. We let ourselves be diverted and distracted like Homer Simpson and with a sprinkled donut.

Watching this Dr. Phil clip and reading the comments on Jessica’s blog just adds to my conviction that women will never be equal on any playing field with men as long as we willingly divide ourselves. Men don’t have to use sexist practices against us. We do it ourselves.

Stay at Home or Work? Diet/exercise or accept fat? Age gracefully or wage war against every wrinkle, peeling them off with our teeth in our en suite if necessary.

Women don’t have the skill set to be a coherent group working towards a common goal. We are mommies or not. Marrieds or singles. Straight or lesbian. White or Black or Asian or Hispanic or Aboriginal. We simply cannot accept that women come in a variety of flavors and leave it at that.

“This mommy war thing is another example of why men rule and women are forever second class,” I said to Rob. “I mean, would men argue about what makes one man a better father than another?”

“No,” Rob said, “if fact it wouldn’t even occur to a man that this would be a topic needing discussion.”

Because when it gets down to it, mommy wars are really part of the larger debate on what it is to be a woman. What defines womanhood? The natural default – imposed on us by religion and culture – is vagina and uterine based.

Am I not more than an incubator with a cunt? This seems to be all that is truly required from my by society. That I continually service others and forget that God (or whoever) gave me a working brain too.

Men, by and large, accept that being a man takes on many forms and that at the end of the day they are united as one gender fighting for the greater advantage of themselves as a group. Of course, they don’t have to wage too strenuous a battle in the western world because women are obligingly taking each other out one subdivided group at a time.

I have played on both sides of the mommy street. The grass is the same shade of green though how green and lush is more dependent on the luck of the socio-economic draw than anything else.

I think what I object most to in this current debate is the fact that motherhood today is being perverted into a child worshipping thing that it was never intended to be. My mother lacked most of the modern conveniences of her day due to my Dad’s cheap nature and the fact that we were solidly lower-middle class descended from farmers. Mom worked. Hard. And she took care of us kids but she didn’t drool over us or think that she’d fulfilled some Lord of the Rings like quest by becoming a mother. I can only recall one mother on my block who parented from a child-centered view, and no one wanted to play with her daughter because she was entitled and had clearly spent too much time being treated as a mini-adult.

My grandmothers worked too. They were farmers. Kids were tended to until they could be tended by older siblings and elderly relatives, or could fend a bit for themselves, and the days were filled with chores. Work. Really hard work.

The idea that women have to choose between work and motherhood hasn’t really existed until the last few decades. And what a boon that has been for those determined to set the clock back on feminism and equal rights. They’ve barely had to lift a finger – just scream “stay at home or work” in a crowded Target (because here is our only touch point – shopping – and why isn’t that common ground enough for us to all just get along?)

I loved Dr. Phil’s comeback line for the beleaguered working mom,

“Step off.”

Because it gets right back to the heart of the matter. This isn’t an important issue. Health care is an important issue. The rising tide of fascism in America is an important issue. The fact that our daughters are being inoculated for HPV while our sons – the equal carriers of the virus are not – is a real issue. The fact that gays are still not afforded the right to marriage despite the fact that it is a state sanctioned function and clearly a violation of equal rights – that is an important issue. We are ramping up a war in Afghanistan to fight terrorists who aren’t there – big issue.

But women are notoriously shallow and unable to leave our high school musical days behind us, and so we glom onto any trivial issue to perpetuate the heated rivalry of days of yore.

We are idiots.