Dear Wonderland readers: there's a new post up.
Tonight, after dinner with my parents, we all settled down to watch the tape of Melissa stomping on Meredith Viera's head. And by that I mean "Melissa showing remarkable taste and restraint in not stomping on Meredith Viera's head." (As Henry likes to say when he utters something nonsensical, that’s what it means in my world.)
I was all set to give you the full commentary from the Bradleys, because they're known for their amusing commentary, but mostly there was puzzled silence, along with some sighing and head-shaking. (Also, whenever Meredith said Janet Taylor's name, my mom would say, "Wait, did I hear that right? Genitalia? Is Genitalia really her name?" and “Well, her name is Genitalia—there’s her problem.")
And right now I feel mostly the same way about the show: puzzled and weary (if eager to mock Janet Taylor). On Friday morning, as I sat in the green room, watching Melissa more than hold her own against the bullshit, I was completely unsurprised at how events were transpiring. My expectations had already been rock-bottom. I knew the piece would be slanted against Melissa and her booze-loving ilk from the start. But at least she sounded good. And she looked good. And that, I thought, was enough.
But all weekend, I felt vaguely sick about it: both about the segment, and my own apathy. You know, it sucks that we're trained to expect so little. An issue is raised, and instead of meaningful debate, we get a condescending, judgmental puff piece designed only to incite public disapproval. It's meaningless and shallow and dispiriting. And not at all surprising.
It may not seem like a big deal, a short segment on whether moms should or shouldn't have a drink when they're with their kids. But behind it, behind the supposed concern about this new trend (quoth my mother: "Give me a break") is one message. It's the same one we get day after day. And it's simply this: we are not capable. Women are not capable. We need to be watched. We need to be told what to do. We must be monitored, judged, and corrected.
This message is so pervasive, we don't even hear it anymore. We just internalize it, and fret, and compare ourselves to everyone else, and point fingers at other mothers who we think are worse than we are. And then the media turns around and asks, why are mothers so neurotic?
It sucks, and I don't know what the solution is. It's difficult when you're lost in a funhouse to find the exit. Maybe we just point out the lie whenever and wherever we see it. It's not much, but it's a start. And maybe after that first step, maybe we'll know which way to go.