Mother’s Day should be celebrated, but what is crucial is how we do it. What should not be celebrated, but rather critically questioned, is the stereotypical portrayal of care work and motherhood. Once a year, this traditional mother role is pulled out of the box from society’s attic and idealized and glorified. Once a year, mothers briefly receive attention regarding their multiple burdens consisting of household management and childcare on the one hand and employment on the other. Mothers are thanked for their sacrifice and the maternal care that is ingrained as a matter of course. However, these portrayals are so outdated that they urgently need an update.
Mom, Take Action
First of all, let’s get rid of the feminine ideal of care. Caring and looking after each other, mentally as well as physically, should not be gendered. Mothers, in particular, get this stereotype written all over them thanks to the media, society and even their own family and friends so that everyone expects “maternal care” to magically develop naturally and for the woman to have it “in her blood”. There is no male equivalent to this. Incidentally, the Instagram account seiten.verkehrt deals with this very topic in a parodic way. What happens when clichés and sexist patterns that mostly affect women are simply turned upside down?
Where did it come from?
Many people do not know where this moth box, packed with mother stereotypes, comes from.
Under National Socialism, the role of mother was stylized and Mother’s Day served to reinforce gender relations (the woman stays at home while the man goes to work). Women’s Day was abolished and instead, Mother’s Day was introduced as a day to honor the mother and motherhood. The focus was to nicely disguise female reproduction as a form of obligation. However, the original invention of Mother’s Day came from the USA and the flower industry then brought it to Germany.
The gender care gap tells us how much more time (currently 52.4%) women spend raising children, caring for relatives, doing housework or voluntary work on average per day compared to men. The result is that women have less time. For example, for full-time employment or well-earned me-time. The fact that this WORK is not paid is due to the fact that the female ideal has a social character and that care work is not seen as work by society, but rather as a service of love. What remains invisible is the mental load. In other words, the mental stress that arises from the constant organizing, planning, coordinating, cultivating social relationships, and so on. It is not easy to cope with the stress that is conjured up in this way and to have the capacities in one’s head free. And even if care work is paid, it is usually poorly paid or underpaid. The ironic thing is that this kind of work is essential for absolutely everyone. No one can grow up or grow old without care. So why not pay them fairly?
So many reasons to celebrate!
Now that we have clarified what we don’t celebrate, here are a few ideas on what we should celebrate instead:
We should use Mother’s Day to celebrate women who have stood for liberation, awakening and confidence. Who have fought against opposition over generations and found and lived new roles for themselves. Mother’s Day should have a new meaning and voice. The words visibility and recognition are the lynchpin.
Visibility for all the things women do every day. Every woman who nurses and does care work. Whether she is mentally assisting her children or caring for grandparents. Examples of when women take on more care work are a dime a dozen.
What we also have to take care of are the double standards in the job market. Childbearing capacity still plays a role in hiring criteria, and thus works to the disadvantage of women in their early 20s to mid-30s. Jamaican comedian Sarah Cooper has filled an entire book with the imbalances in the job market.
Recognition means that poverty in old age no longer has a female face. That single mothers are no longer looked down upon, but are given support. That there is no longer a gender pay gap and women no longer have to take on predominantly unpaid care work. That fair pay for care and caring activities and the self-evident imbalance no longer be accepted. That childcare opportunities are created and the search for daycare places does not end in despair.
So when you celebrate Mother’s Day, think about all the moments when your mother should really be cheered. Write them down and present your mum with the concentrated load of love. You can also use our sustainable and vegan notebooks. We also have beautifully illustrated greeting cards to match, such as our thank you card or our special Mother’s Day greeting card.
Let’s give Mother’s Day a new image together!