Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mother prejudice?

The life of mothers seems only to be of interest to other mothers. I'm not sure why this should be so, after all, the average person can be extremely interested in the life and work of people very different from oneself. It is my guess, though I could be wrong, that a deep prejudice exists where mothers are concerned, stemming from a thickly erronous understanding of the work of motherhood, leaving mothers to talk (and write and read) among themselves for no one else cares about their sippy cup and cloth diaper debates.

If I can use my own novel as an example (and who could object to that?), THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME (title says it all, doesn't it?) was assumed to sell only to other moms and other women--chick lit, mama lit, that sort of thing. What's funny about this categorization is that it doesn't work in the other direction. I'm a woman and a mother and I read books about men and Pakistan and travel and volcanoes and...you get the idea. Why then is the writing about motherhood of no interest to, for example, your average Wall Street banker? For I can say with some certainty that I know many a book group that has read about those guys.

Is it because we (mis)perceive the significance and richness of the motherhood experience? Honestly, I've read books with protagonists I have absolutely nothing in common with--save in the area of emotion. Why isn't this the case for literature about motherhood? Or even talk about moterhood? Either it is true that motherhood is so dull no one can relate unless they are also a mother, OR, motherhood is so unique that no one can relate who isn't a mother.

I am wondering. Why wouldn't a man, a journalist who's traveled the globe, pick up the memoir of a mother when that same mother would read that man's memoir? Has our sexism abated save in the motherland? Or have we as a culture sold the identity/profession/path too short, dumbed it down to its tedious details (the laundry, the snot)?

I would like to know.

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