When we are mothers we have access to important insight, wisdom and compassion. For that reason ,we must insert ourselves into these broader conversations. And we must do so fearlessly.”
I recently discovered a motherhood blogger who styles herself “The Ultimate Outcast”. Like me and a lot of women, she read Ann Crittenden’s “The Price of Motherhood and found some of her own story in its pages. ”My feelings about motherhood and the economy, my sense of marginalization, were so validated when I read the book. Most importantly I learned important contradictions in the way the economic system works.” She’s from the West Coast, and my inside-the-Beltway focus was pleasantly shaken up by her approach:
The patriarchal system of “policy-making” alone will not get us anywhere. Moms have to play in the mud a bit, get dirty, do the unexpected, start controversy after controversy. But back it all with smart, reasoned logic and economic arguments. We can do this! For example, gay-rights issues became front and center overnight because provocative people like Ellen and gay relationship circumstances became a force in our culture. In 10 short years, same-sex policy changes are strong and underway. Gay culture has gained an exceptance and advocacy that 15 years ago no one would have dreamed of. I see the same opportunity for mothers and care-givers today. Culture first, then politics, then economics.
My economic ideas are to sell motherhood to society the way banks sell their products, and everyone else sells sex. The financial system dispenses the wealth of our nation through banking and financial policy. What if we were to create a society that understands the wealth of a nation starts in a woman’s womb — not in a bank, boardroom or Congress? Why not argue for the immediate and direct circulation of public funds into the hands of unpaid family care-givers? With certain controls, this could be an excellent lift to the economy. But any concept that is going to have any affect has to be sold to America the good old fashioned-way, saciously and surreptitiously, but glamorously. I’m 33 years old and grew up in a country that used sex to sell everything but motherhood. I want to flip that concept around. Using provocative images on billboards and ads — just get people talking, first. Make people uncomfortable, then teach them.
Readers, what do you think? Should mothers and family caregivers abandon the glacially slow policy approach? Would an edgy, in your face campaign using media to provoke discussion and even outrage be more effective? Can we publicly leverage our motherhood for social change? Should we? Post your comments and let me know.
Valerie Young is the Advocacy Coordinator of the National Association of Mothers' Centers' initiative, MOTHERS (Mothers Ought To Have Equal Rights). Find me on Twitter @WomanInDC and Facebook Valerie Young.