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May 6, 2019 | by  | in The F Word | [ssba]

The F Word – Work Mums???

When Michael Hill Jeweller rocked up with their latest Mothers Day ad, the feminist community breathed a collective sigh of frustration. There, emblazoned on the back of a consistently-late bus, was a beaming man with his arms around two women. He was anonymous, but his acquaintances’ titles were displayed big and bright: Mum, and ‘Work Mum.’

The advertisement encourages us to “Celebrate All [Our] Mums,” but we’re still too busy trying to decipher what exactly a ‘work mum’ is—and more importantly, why the fuck she would want a shitty necklace from a company that thinks male colleagues applying maternal titles to her is in any way complimentary?  

The ad is almost hilarious with its odd brand of saccharine ignorance, but unfortunately, like many other bouts of ignorance, beneath its surface lurks a problematic notion that is far from a new concept.

In this case, it is the idea that women are mums. Even the ones that aren’t. Even the ones that don’t want to be. And even the ones that in no way have a maternal relationship to the guy they (apparently) are the (work) mum of.

The concept hinges on the idea that women are inherent caregivers. That women are companions to men, even before they are individuals. It is also why women end up doing so many fucking chores for men (40% more, according to The Office for National Statistics), or why fathers get commended for “babysitting” their own damn kids, whereas mothers are constantly exposed to unfair critiques and ridiculously high expectations.

This stereotype not only reduces women to a single role, it also banishes men from that same identity, and ignores and/or rejects everyone else.  

No one takes pride in being a ‘work mum’, Michael Hill. But more importantly, no one should take pride in having one.



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