Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get “Mommed” by an Expendable Racial Stereotype - brought to you by Kleenex

Had an abusive, uncaring, absentee mother? Maybe she was just neglectful? Or perhaps she was overbearing in all the wrong ways. Did you ever say to yourself, I wish I had another mom! My mom sucks! Well, your dreams have come true – brought to you by Kleenex! Now you can click on exchangeable moms in Kleenex’s “Get Mommed” campaign. Check this whole sight site out! You’ll find a variety of moms conformed to racial stereotypes from the overly critical Asian mom, to the sassy Black mom who is perpetually trying to get into shape, to the young Latina mom, to the young white blonde mom who tries to be your best friend, then there’s the older white woman who can’t deal with you right now because she’s in a business suit, the hippy earth mother who is gimmicky, and last but not least, the southern conservative housewife who has nothing but good things to say and bake. Also, you can watch them interact in more stereotypical ways here, including how Latina mom Anna Maria just wants an excuse to make salsa!

Now, notice how your mom is not represented? Well, there could be a reason for that – all moms are different!!! Wow! I bet that was the shock of the century! But aside from the horrible racial stereotypes of Mammy and Bubbe, et al., there is an underlying theory behind this whole campaign; that moms are interchangeable and expendable. Watch and see – brought to you by Kleenex:

What happens to the first mom when a “child” (I won’t get into the whole “manchild” analysis with this one) wants to try out another mom? Who cares! According to Kleenex, they fade into the background looking confused as to what THEY have done wrong to make that “child” go to another mom. The point is simple; moms are expendable. You can choose one that fits your lifestyle. While that couldn’t be further than the truth, it seems like commercials like these are perpetuating all of the issues surrounding what society sees as a “good” mother. Moms are always under immense pressure to be the very best, most attentive, sacrificing, doting, careful, and prude mothers they can possibly be. They are challenged to drop that baby weight as soon as possible, to be MILFs, to shield children from anything sexual, to guide and teach, to quit their jobs and never go back until that kid is 18 (but by then their resumes will no longer be marketable), and to place anything that promotes the welfare of the child over their own. It’s an extended version of the maternal-fetal conflict that I have talked about before, that a woman literally cannot shed even after birth.

In her book Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts explains how mothers, specifically Black mothers, were seen as the cause of all of society’s ills. They reproduced, and therefore produced Black children who were bound to grow up a menace because their mothers, being seen as inherently evil Jezebels from the start, were always working (or slaves) and therefore unable to take care of their own children. While this may be a hyperbolic example, the evidence of this ideology is everywhere in modern society. Anyone short of “Supermom” gets a buttload of guilt by society. Like society knows how to be a mom?! So I guess "Lisa" is safe. Anyway, I personally feel torn about motherhood for my own reasons *ahem* raising a child restricted to harsh gender roles *ahem* but the pressure on moms to act perfect and look perfect is quite pervasive. Even mothers who have “real” problems – abusive, absentee, etc. – shed further light on the fact that mothers are women first; they have their own lives and own complications beyond the issues that their children bring up. They have problems like any other person. They think, feel, and experiment like any other person. They are not born mothers, they are not immune to the burdens of society because they are mothers, but in fact, are more susceptible to be the bearers of those burdens.

So, if you want to buy into the hype that your mom isn’t good enough, and you wish to exchange her, then Get Mommed – brought to you by Kleenex.

1 comment: