Work It Mom!: Moms (including Britney Spears) need a break from being under the media microscope

02/24/2008 at 07:38 PM ET

by Nataly Kogan, co-founder and CEO of Work It, Mom!, and author of the Work It, Mom! blog

(The views expressed by our guest columnists are not necessarily those of the Celebrity Baby Blog.)

I thought for a while about not writing this post. It involves Britney Spears and for a gazillion reasons I don’t want to be yet another writer/reporter/blogger/person writing about her and her endless issues. It also makes some pretty big generalizations based on a few data points and that’s not my favorite type of post. But I just couldn’t make it go away, I kept thinking about it, and so here goes.

This weekend I was browsing through The New York Times online (the only way I get to catch up on reading the paper these days, during nap time, while taking a 10-minute break from work) and came across an article titled Boys Will Be Boys, Girls Will Be Hounded By The Media. It’s main point is the fact that the press seems to be much harsher and tougher on women celebrities than on men. (E.g. When Kiefer Sutherland got released from jail, most media outlets ignored the event, but a pandemic of coverage erupted when Paris Hilton returned to complete her jail sentence.)

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I’m not what you’d call a celebrity junkie (OK, I read through US Weekly when I am stuck at an airport), so I was ready to move on to the next article when I read this:

IfBritney weren’t a mother, this story wouldn’t be getting a fraction ofattention it’s getting… The fact that the custody of her children isat stake is the fuel of this narrative. If she were a single woman,bombing around in her car with paparazzi following, it wouldn’t be thesame.

I agree. When I saw footage of Britney riding around in a car withher son on her lap I couldn’t believe it and when I see coverage of herdemise I usually think about her poor kids and how it’s affecting them.And since the majority of celebrity magazine readers are women and manyof them moms, it makes sense that her story keeps getting coverage –it causes reactions and reactions sell copies
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But — and hereit is the big generalization I warned about — I think one of thereasons Britney’s being a mom is fueling the media coverage is becausewe (and by this I mean, we, people, Americans) tend to be more criticalof moms in general. I remembered a studyI read a while back about Americans being more critical of the job momsare doing today compared to a generation ago than dads, as compared tothe previous generation of fathers. (You can read more about it andsome Work It, Mom! member comments here.) Mommy wars get a ton more coverage than daddy wars. Heck, even my own mom is a lot more critical of me now that I am a mom (but we’ll leave that for another blog post.)

Part of me thinks our society has the right to be more critical ofmoms because we have one of the most incredible responsibilities I knowof — raising children. But c’mon, the 1950s are done with and manyfathers are as involved, if not more, in raising kids and impactingtheir future. So shouldn’t we see more critical stories about celebritydads who aren’t doing their jobs? And maybe even more importantly,don’t moms have enough to deal with without more pressure and scrutiny?

I feel a bit like a fish out of water writing a post aboutcelebrities, so sound off with your thoughts in the comments and don’tleave me contemplating here alone.

Do you feel we’re more critical of moms than dads? Women than men? Why?


Photo by Flynet.

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Showing 13 comments

tink1217 on

women are more critical of other women in general and yes, of each other as mothers. Its just a fact. I know I can be that way although I really try not to. Women get criticised so much about so many things(breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, working or staying at home, having kids or not having them, skinny or overweight, big breasts or not big enough breasts). Its crazy! As mothers we should really try not to be so critical. Especially when being critical of another mother doesn’t involve our own personal lives (as in with Britney). Its ok to be interested in celebrities and their children and lives. It is hard not to be (although my husband would disagree, he could care less). But when we start being as harsh as I have seen people be we need to take a step back and re evaluate ourselves. I have always said live and let live. I give the benefit of the doubt. And I don’t say harsh and cruel things about others if I can help it in the least. I wouldn’t want the world to see my private life. I make mistakes. I am not perfect. That is why I feel so bad for celebs like Britney Spears. Especially when mental illness is involved. I think her children are the real losers here since they aren’t getting to have their mother in their lives as a whole and functioning person. They do need their mother.

Hopefully we can stop being so critical of each other as mothers and women in general. It would be a much more pleasant world if we could.

toni on

Amen sister. I agree with everything you wrote.

Elyse on

Very well said tink1217, I absolutely could not agree with you more! :0)

Ivey on

I think the cruelty and scrutiny around Britney is more based on a fall from grace more than mom inspired(from my point of view). On this site, it is going to be Britney and her kids, on other sites it may be more in league with her mental health, partying lifestlye, hanger ons, lack of clothes etc.

As far as moms vs dads, I think Eddie Murphy got quite a bit of attention when he dismissed his daughter(at least on this site) and Charlie Sheen, whoo, sometimes I’m afraid to go into those posts.

So no I don’t see a difference, but thats just me.

smart on

You might want to look up the word panacea, as you obviously have no idea what it means.

Di on

I totally agree that women are held to a higher standard. Our society expects more out of women, in particular mothers but in some sense I understand it. Women are the ones who get pregnant and give birth and to a certain extent women are presumed to be the better parent even if they are not.

I also feel like men should be held to a higher standard. Women are expected to be hands on moms and dads get a free ride as long as they are paying child support. Women have to think about balancing work and home and guys are allowed focus on their career.

I think the whole Britney situation is tragic but I’m happy that Kevin has set an example for other fathers and stepped up to the plate in light of his ex’s issues. I just hope Kevin is involved with his oldest two children life just as much as his youngest two.

Victoria on

I wholeheartedly agree that we are harder on moms than we are on dads. And by “we” I really mean “we as moms”. We are actually giving the world permission to be just as overly critical in doing so, too.

Think about it – fathers are actually congratulated when they do their jobs as parents. People are so surprised to see a man doing what has been perceived to be a “mother’s job”. And when he is a single dad – the outpouring of sympathy and the amount of respect shown to them is unbelievable. All of this for doing what parents are supposed to do. You automatically think that a single dad’s ex is either dead or irresponsible. But as soon as society hears “single mom” they BLAME THE MOTHER for being single.

Sometimes society makes it sound like women are willfully impregnating themselves (think of the term: “she got pregnant” and “got herself pregnant”) and should lie in the beds they’ve made once the dad takes off. They don’t even give a guy grief for taking off. It’s practically expected! That is outrageous to me. DADS give other dads grief about things like that. But moms blame other moms.

Until we stop doing that to each other – until we ALL understand that there is no “right way” to parent, especially mothering, and that you will live a miserable existence if you constantly second-guess and compare – we’ll all breathe a little easier.

There aren’t very many moms I am friends with who don’t live inside my computer because of this. And even still, I’ve met some of the most spiteful and unsisterly moms ever here on the internet. There are moms who don’t judge other people based on their choices, and there are moms who try endlessly to validate their insecurities in mothering by comparing every little thing in terms of right and wrong.

I co-admin a site for women and moms now, and these moms and ladies are really fantastic! It is almost like some alternate universe where someone will give you an e-hug when you’ve complained about your kids instead of knocking you down for saying such things about your little “angels”. They are SO supportive of each other’s choices, and I think it’s because they’ve all been burned before and they will stand up for themselves when someone comes along and tries to change the way the forum is by being really negative. They’re sick of being judged by other moms. I’m really interested in fostering the attitude that you can do whatever you want and it’s OK. It really is OK to do things differently.

I’m sorry that was so long, but this is a subject I’ve been passionate about for years.

Campbell on

I am never a fan of giving anyone (myself included) a pat on the back for doing what we already are obligated as mothers AND fathers to do. I can’t envision a world where fathers will ever be held to the same standard as mothers. Sure, some have had a bit of a raking over the coals, but nothing like a mom will and will continue to get. Hypocrisy.

magenta on

You remember in the Ranger Rick magazines when you had to guess the creature that was magnified by 1000 percent. It looked so grotesque, then when you saw it at it’s actual size it was a beautiful butterfly or a flower petal.

Once your life goes under a microscope it’s hard for anyone to look good that close up. Most of the time is a descent person grotesquely distorted.

We saw David Hasselhoff drunkenly eating off the floor and being filmed by his youngest daughter and he still got full custody. I seriously doubt that was his only highly-inappropriate parental screw-up. But that came and went with the media. There will always be a double-standard in our male-dominated society.

I would never wag the finger at another mom, because hindsight is always 20/20 and dishes are always easier to wash when they aren’t your own.

Charity on

Great point (thanks CBB for printing this)! Women are more critical of each other than men are of each other. Why can’t we just sit back and enjoy one another’s triumphs and be more compassionate in regards to one another’s failures?

I think part of what goes on in regards to Britney is that she has “everything” or nearly everything. Fame, money, career, etc. And so many want to burn her at the stake (figuratively) because she doesn’t seem to know how to handle it. We always seem to think we’d know how to handle it so much better.

Usually when I or someone I know criticizes another women, it’s out of jealousy. The women who can’t have kids criticizes the women who has 3, works full-time and can’t seem to keep her house clean.

Jasmine on

honestly, I have to say at least where I am from I hear alot about deadbeat dads and not so long ago there was an article in our local paper about a crackdown with a few arrests who weren’t paying child support. And there was a comment from a single dad who had full custody of his children and the mom ran off and he mentioned that he felt that the paper also should have an article about deadbeat moms and have their names in the paper as well and I kind of agreed with him. You always hear about deadbeat dads but what about the deadbeat moms..Just thought I’d put that out there.

Tanya on

I just wonder why you have stopped posting photos of Britneys boys, Sean Preston and Jayden James recently at CBB? There are new photos of the boys out there, you know, for example photos of the boys dressed like little boys in the old days with their mom.

Sarah’s note: Because we generally don’t post photos of kids out without their parents, and Kevin and Britney haven’t been in either. Also I believe there were some taken on private property, which we don’t post.

CelebBabyLover on

Okay, I’m confused! You say you don’t post pictures of celebrity kids without their parents….But yet I distinctly remember you posting some photos of Julia Roberts’ twins with their nanny. Granted, I think the latest of those was at least a year ago, so it could just be that CBB’s policy has changed since then.

However, just this past summer/fall (I don’t remember which), you posted a set of photos of Suri Cruise with her grandparents (Katie’s parents). You also posted a picture of Sean Jayden with Kevin’s mother back in December or January. Anyway…Did you just recently change the photo policy or something? I’m just trying to get my facts straight is all. :)

Sarah’s note: Sorry, I should have been clearer — photos with family members such as grandparents are fine. The photo of the Moder twins with their nanny was posted back in fall 2006 and probably isn’t something we would post today. You have quite the memory! You always have so many questions about how we do things, you should just come work for us! :)

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