Lately, it seems like it’s getting more and more challenging and tiresome to be a woman in today’s world. At least that is how it feels to me. When women are STILL fighting for pay equity or gender-neutral pricing and when courageous women publicly telling their stories of sexual abuse are mocked by elected officials, or when funding for the fight against violence against women is cut, one really must wonder what kind of world we are leaving for our daughters to face. I can only imagine how frustrated the women throughout history who fought for the right to vote and to not be regarded as property must be if they could see the state of affairs for women today.
It can feel like one is powerless in these seemingly crazy times. But I firmly believe there is one area where all women can focus to change this depressing trend: Mom Shaming.
You may not have heard the expression mom shaming and you may not know its exact definition. Google it, it really is a thing. So, let me brief you quickly and I bet your head will begin nodding in recognition of the syndrome, having probably experienced it yourself without even knowing what was happening.
Mom shaming is defined as bullying a mom for her parenting choices. This bullying can be done in a subtle way, an overt way, or even in a harsh and aggressive way. Often, this bullying is done by other moms, so it seems like the Queen Bee Syndrome that’s been documented in the workplace. It isn’t easy tuning out these criticisms because I think most mothers do question themselves sometimes about whether or not we are making the right choices. Parenting is hard and there isn’t a manual that describes a foolproof recipe for handling each and every possible scenario that a mom would face, nor does it take into account other factors like cultural or religious beliefs. It is a bit of trial and error.
So even though most moms understand that we should be supporting each other and stop being so judgemental, there is something in our psyche or our socialization that still wants us to feel like we are good moms, even if that comes as a result of judging others to be less competent than yourself.
I have been the subject of mom shaming for some of the choices I have made regarding how I conduct my family. And if I’m really honest with myself, I’ve probably mom shamed others myself. But I’ve thought about it and vowed that I would stop that behaviour and assume that people don’t really want my advice or feedback unless they specifically ask for it. And you know what, I’m not powerless in this situation. While I may not be able to single-handedly resolve circumstances that lead to #MeToo moments, or ensure pay equity for all, I can focus on my own behaviours with other moms and encourage them to do the same. Maybe if we can get this type of bullying to stop, we will be able to create some momentum to address the power and control issues that exist between genders. And I do mean all genders. So, come on moms! Let’s show the world that we can overcome our own natural desires to feel special or better than the next person and work together in solidarity. I’m not talking about burning our bras or anything like that. I’m just hoping that if we can be more aware of our inadvertent tendencies to rush to judgment of others and change that behaviour, we can become an indelible force for the many remaining issues still left on the table to deal with. It can start by just noticing your thoughts before they leave your mouth or eyes and making a conscious effort to allow for the fact that just because someone’s parenting choices are different than yours, it doesn’t make them wrong choices. Just different. And that is perfectly ok.
This article was written by Robin Chiponski, a founding member of the Zonta e-Club of Canada1’s Board of Directors. The views expressed here don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of the Zonta e-Club of Canada1 or Zonta International.