No one is safe from sanctimommies. Not even Oprah, who is not even a mother. In a post over on The Stir, blogger Jenny Erikson rips Oprah a new one for her honest, candid comments about why she never had children.
Calling one of the most powerful, successful women ever “honey” (God, that irks me), Erikson, in an open letter, calls out Oprah for Oprah’s explanation as to why she never felt the calling to become a mother. For the record, Oprah said:
“If I had kids, my kids would hate me.They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them. Gayle [now a mother of two] was the kind of kid who, in seventh grade home ec class, was writing down her name and the names of her children,” Winfrey explained. “While she was having those kind of daydreams, I was having daydreams about how I could be Martin Luther King.”
Seems like a good explanation to me….not that Oprah owes anyone an explanation. But Erikson seemingly took great offense to Oprah’s explanation of Oprah’s personal life and personal motivations, writing:
Why do you think that women can’t be successful and have children at the same time? Are my children suffering because I’m a single working mom? Or is that reserved only for moms at the top of their fields?
I’m so bothered by this. Oprah was not attacking you or your lifestyle, Jenny Erikson. She wasn’t attacking Angelina Jolie or Sacagawea or Michelle Obama or any of the women you cite as successful working moms. She was talking about her own personality, her own life, her own circumstances. None of that has anything to do with you or any other woman’s choice. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Yes, Oprah is a cultural icon and the cultural conversations about and around her matter, especially to women and people of color. But I really think Oprah’s words have been completely twisted and misrepresented here. I am all about women having babies and women working and women working while they have babies. I am also all about women not having babies. Basically, I think it’s fine if women want to reproduce or don’t want to reproduce. Oprah didn’t want to reproduce. She owns her choice. What’s the problem?
According to Erikson, it’s not only that Oprah apparently doesn’t believe women can work and be successful—it’s also that she’s selfish!
In a way, I have to commend you for making the decision that you did, since you knew that you were too selfish to shuffle things around to make being a working mom work. You knew that your kids would always come second to what you wanted for your life. Oh Oprah, only you can take something like being too selfish to have children and turn it into a selfless virtue.
Aargh. Seriously, aargh.
Photo: WireImage/Getty Images