The Wall Street Journal just published an opinion piece on attachment parenting & cloth diapers in their Saturday edition. The headline – “Spend every moment with your child? Make your own baby food and use cloth diapers? Erica Jong wonders how motherhood became such a prison for modern women.“
The author is clearly talented. Her article was deftly written to stab a knife in the heart of those who have wielded other equally venomous attacks in her direction.She eloquently attacked the parenting style, but I wish she had identified the real issue before writing a sadly misdirected article to be published on a platform like The Wall Street Journal. Her knife doesn’t belong in the heart of the parenting style. Her knife belongs squarely between the eyes of the culture and attitude behind the parenting style.
Jong is described as a feminist activist. How did we reach the day that a feminist activist is speaking out against a woman’s choices in parenting? Feminism involves political, cultural and sociological theories, as well as philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. Did I really just read an article written by a feminist that advocated against choices that women should be allowed to make without fear of criticism or rebuff? Is she really attacking the right issue? Or could she just be saying, “Shut up world! I am ME and YOU don’t get to decide if I was a good mom”?
Jong’s words were just given a pedestal in one of the most well respected newspapers in our country. I think it’s time that we, as a community, choose to raise the standard. This article shouldn’t have been about a parenting style. The only reason she sees life through those lenses is because someone left her feeling like a bad mom. Someone shaped an influencer. Was it you?
It isn’t the first time it’s happened either. We saw it last week. And the week before…
The real issue is a lack of cultural civility between mothers. I’ve watched women rip each other apart online seemingly without consequence for years. Then they come into my store scared to ask questions because they are afraid that their method of parenting won’t meet my standard. If I had a $1 for each apologetic look I’ve had from a woman, I could pay off my house and yours too. It’s sad! Women should not be eating each other alive. Imagine how the world would be if we encouraged each other the way we hope to be encouraged. Dare I say it? We would all be better mothers. Most women really don’t want anyone telling them what to do… because, as we all know, there aren’t any hard and fast rules other than to do the best you can.
Natali Del Conte called for an “internet time out” last week in her blog post after the cloth diapering community viciously attacked her (CBS was kind enough to remove the worst comments). Her report about “Diaper Wars” on CBS certainly wasn’t a fair representation of cloth diapers. Frustration was justified. Coordinated education and protest was justified. However, even righteous anger isn’t justification for ripping apart someone’s mothering skills or criticizing her personal integrity.
Del Conte chose to take the cloth diapering challenge and cloth diaper her baby for one month. I’m proud of Del Conte for standing up to the cloth diapering community and offering to try cloth diapers while also drawing a line in the sand around her parenting choices.
I wish I was as proud of the cloth diapering community for the manner in which the challenge was posed. Yes, we want cloth diapers to be fairly represented in the media… but frankly, if Del Conte actually discusses the character of the cloth diaper community in her followup report on CBS, we’re likely to hear something more like what Jong just wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
Our customers tell us that they want cloth diapers to be mainstream. They want to be able to walk into a store in their hometown and pick up whatever they need. If this is ever going to happen, it is important that the cloth diapering community stops using words and attitudes to alienate the very people who can help make that dream a reality.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” – St. Ambrose (A.D. 537)
I rarely write posts that so clearly state my opinion, but I’ve seen enough in the last week to last the rest of my career. I’m calling on all of the industry leaders to stand up and draw a line in the sand. Raise the standard. Stop hosting drama. Stop generating hatred. Stop hating. We should be respectful, friendly advocates for mothers who are learning. Research. Speak carefully. You never know who you are talking to or who is going to read what you have written. It’s time to realize that the influencers in our culture are watching you and start behaving like something and someone that should be watched.
When treated professionally and with respect, authors like Erica Jong, reporters like Natali del Conte and even buyers from big box stores could freely advocate for your product and parenting choices… rather than rail against the emotional prison imposed by rude, unfettered tongues.