Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest post on the new movie, Bad Moms. I haven’t seen the movie yet but one of my friends did and asked to share her feelings here. This is not a review of the actual movie but a reflection on the thought process behind it.
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It’s being called a girl power film for moms everywhere. Critics are hailing Bad Moms as a “comedy of outrage,” and a “filthy hilarious satire of motherhood.” Fed up with the pressures of PTA meetings, working outside of the home, and juggling children, mom Amy has finally had enough. She rallies other overworked, underappreciated moms who are tired of trying to live up to unmeasurable standards for an unforgettable night of debauchery.
Featuring real life moms Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathy Hahn, Bad Moms tries to show audiences that being bad can totally be good.
Except it isn’t. At least, not for all moms.
Moms like Michelle Gregg, who will forever be known as “Gorilla Mom,” don’t have the luxury of being bad. After her three-year-old son climbed into the Gorilla World enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, half a million people lashed out in an online petition, claiming that she and her husband were negligent and calling for an “investigation of the child’s home environment.”
Or moms like Debra Harrell, who was arrested and charged with unlawful conduct towards a child after she sent her 9-year-old daughter to the park while she went to work at McDonald’s. For most of the summer, her daughter had played on a laptop at the restaurant, but after it was stolen, the girl asked to play in a popular nearby park instead.
Or, moms like Shanesha Taylor, who left her two sons in her SUV while she interviewed for a job at State Farm Insurance. She was sentenced to 18 years of supervised probation.
Yet, parents like Melissa Graves, whose toddler was snatched by an alligator in a Disney World lagoon, Lenore Skenazy, who began the movement of “Free Range Kids,” and the unnamed Massachusetts father who boarded a train for Boston and left his 1-year old daughter in the backseat of his SUV, don’t face the same levels of wrath of punishment.
Why do some parents receive sympathy, while others become public enemy number one? Why is it okay for some to turn their backs on their responsibilities, ignore the rules, and be “bad?”
Growing up, many of us heard that we’d have to “be twice as good to get half as far.” While Black women earned 66% of the bachelor’s degrees, 71% of the master’s degrees, and 65% of the doctoral degrees awarded to Black students between 2009 and 2010 (Source), Black mothers are still regarded as the bad ones. Struggling to earn 64 cents to a White man’s dollar, Black moms are tasked with contributing to their families financially as well as physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Ever since the 1965 Moynihan report on the state of the Black family, there’s a stigma that surrounds Black mothers, and Black single mothers in particular.
No matter how much work we put in, Black women aren’t afforded the same opportunities to be “bad.” There’s too much riding on us. Every error is multiplied and magnified, every mistake blown to epic proportions. We’re combating the stereotypes society’s placed on us–from the “welfare queen” of the Reagan era to the modern day “baby mama”–and can’t afford to mess up. Blowing off a PTA meeting? Sure, it’s okay for Mila Kunis’ character, but for us, it’s seen an indicator that we don’t care about our child’s education. Catching an attitude with another mom? We’re labeled as an “angry Black woman.” All the responsibilities of motherhood are coupled with the pressure to be better, smarter, more.
As parents, we’re all just trying to do the best we possibly can. Sure, we deserve a break sometimes. We make mistakes. We mess up. We try again. But we can’t praise some parents and vilify others for the same mistakes. Until it’s okay for us all to be “bad,” some of us have to be very, very good.
Will you be seeing Bad Moms?
Tiffani Greenaway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents.com, a New York city parenting and lifestyle brand. She is the co-creator of The Mommy Conference, an online gathering of moms, and co-founder of the digital collective, Sisterhued. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo! Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani’s work at mymommyvents.com.