Mommy Wars. Working and stayathome moms are fighting it out over who is the better parent. Or, so you would think.

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The Mommy Wars: Media Myth

You go to the supermarket and as you are checking out you notice the magazines. One particular magazine catches your eye. On its glossy cover, it depicts a fight, a battle, even a war.  There are two moms on the cover. One woman is in a suit, wielding a briefcase as her weapon and the other in jeans in a t-shirt holding a diaper bag. They both have children at their feet. The headline reads " The Mommy Wars Have Returned!"

The Mommy wars have been around since about the Victorian age in one way or another. In 1853, Coventry Patmore wrote The Angel in the House, in which he rendered his wife as the model wife and mother (Roiphe). The quintessential mother is one who must sacrifice herself for her family (Roiphe). It was immediately successful, which caused the “Model Mother” ideal to spread throughout society. It is believed by scholars that this was the so-called “first shot” and that those ideals are the foundation of the Mommy Wars (Rophie). But, it was not until over 100 years later that the term “Mommy Wars” was coined by Leslie Morgan Steiner in her book, Mommy Wars, in 1986.

Working and stay-at-home moms are fighting it out over who is the better parent. Or, so you would think. The so-called “Mommy Wars” is not actually a war of mothers against mothers. Instead, it is a war created and propagated by the media. The media, which includes magazines, parenting books and television wants mothers to believe that they are being judged by many other mothers for their decision to either stay home or work, when in reality, it is the books, magazine, etcetera that are rocking the boat.

On the other hand, women have not always worked, so the actual “mommy wars” of working vs. stay at home moms is recent (Wallace).  The work force was originally understood to be a competition, kind of like warfare, almost dangerous in a way. Women were to stay out of it and be with kids safe at home. They were seen as the guardians of the house, perceived as pure, noble and morally centered. (Wallace.)

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It was not until the late 1920s that this really started to change. Women starting entering the work force little by little until World War II began (Roiphe). It was then that most of America’s women were working in the absence of the men who were fighting in the war (Roiphe). However, soon after the war was over and the men returned, so did many of the women. The ideal mother and wife returned to her post at home, cooking, cleaning, and watching the children while the men worked (Roiphe).

However, in 1963, Betty Friedan questioned this way of life ...

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