Moms Deserve Better

Rebecca Mead Elizabeth Weiss blasts the “World’s Toughest Job” viral ad for “selling the myth of the ideal mother”:

In this case, the ad condescends to mothers: the apparent praise, delivered by a smarmy middle-management type, exaggerates the work of motherhood to the point of caricature, ringing insincere. (I’m reminded of the boss who publicly praises his assistant, saying, “She does all the real work!” Then why don’t you pay her the real money?) It also devalues women’s achievements outside the home, suggesting that the proper and natural route to female satisfaction runs through motherhood. Like many ads, it dismisses fathers, whether single fathers, gay fathers, or fathers sharing equally with female partners in childrearing.

This depiction of motherhood isn’t merely annoying. It offers cultural cover for attitudes that do real damage to women, men, and families, reinforcing baseless perceptions of women as less reliable in the workplace, low expectations for fathers at home. (If these are skills specific to moms, dads are necessarily secondary parents; despite some progress, fathers, on average, still spend less time on housework and child care, and more time at leisure, than mothers.)