No, it’s not just in your head. As I mentioned to Why Have Kid? author Jessica Valenti, the Mommyish office wisdom goes that mothers are only in the news for a bad reason. But some recent Internet surveying found that mothers literally are presented in a wash of blogs for a “bad” reason.
BuzzFeed reports that after having a data team review the content of over 200 partner sites (which range from “major news,” to sports, to fashion, to gossip), “bad” was the fourth most common adjective used to describe mothers. The top 10 adjectives aren’t too promising either as if mothers aren’t “bad” or “new” than they’re “naked” or “old.” In order of prominence, BuzzFeed reports: new, old, free, bad, best, full, happy, naked, good, and real.
So the takeaway here is that you’re either a “good” mom, a “bad” mom, a “happy” mom, or a “naked” mom. Those are, at least for BuzzFeed’s corner of the Internet which I think is safe to call a pretty sizable portion of it, how we’re culturally describing and defining motherhood.
Conversely, fathers enjoyed an array of descriptives that didn’t rely on such good/bad binaries or even a fixation on their bodies. They got such top terms, again in order of prominence, as American, free, old, new, full, big, best, happy, greatest, and real. What’s that? “Happy,” “best,” and “greatest”? That’s three shades of positive fatherhood happening there with no “bad” in sight. Imagine that. (The “American,” BuzzFeed posits, comes from the show American Dad.)
The word choices so clearly mirror that nasty double standard when we talk parenting roles. Like when a father picks up his kid from school and can hear the round of “amazing daddy” applause before he even makes it back to the car. Meanwhile, mommy collects her brood without so much as a “good job! You haven’t broken the kids yet!” No gold stars or brownie points for walking through the motions of everyday parenting. No mother I know gets a cultural thumbs up just for showing up. Unless she’s naked, that is.