It’s Mother’s Day. And Politics in Pink feels compelled to honor it.
Not as a Hallmark holiday and not even as a day to acknowledge my own truly awesome mother (or be acknowledged for my own awesomeness in the mothering department).
No, let’s honor Mother’s Day as it was meant to be honored- as Mothers’ Day —the way Anna Marie Jarvis intended it- to honor her mother, Ann Maria Jarvis, a social activist intent on making the lives of women better. (For a fabulous 5-minute story about Anna Jarvis and her mother—listen to the Memory Palace’s 2009 fantastic piece). The Mother’s Day we currently celebrate is not the one that Anna Jarvis had in mind when she lobbied tirelessly for its establishment. She hated the commercialism of the day and fought against florists and confectioners who distorted its meaning. Indeed, Anna Jarvis died still railing against the day she helped to create.
Mother’s Day was supposed to be about honoring the work of mothers and improving the lives of women. Mothers’ Day is not about our individual mothers. Mothers’ Day is about all women. It is about women who are mothers and women who emerged from the wombs of mothers.
There are far too many people who hate Mother’s Day. Some hate it, like Anna Jarvis for the commercialism and saccharine sweetness of the merchandising. Some hate it because it does not speak to their experiences. They feel left out because they are not mothers (by choice or by circumstance), or because their mothers have died or because their own mothers were emotionally/physically absent or abusive.
But that is Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day is about individuals.
Mothers’ Day is different.
Mothers’ Day is about all of us. Mothers’ Day is a collective holiday. Mothers’ Day is about honoring women and making the world a better place for women.
So this year, let’s celebrate Mothers’ Day in the spirit it was meant- as a collective and political holiday.
Political? Why, yes. Improving the lives of women is political.
What can you do to help women this Mothers’ Day?
Vote for candidates who support reproductive rights for women- including access to abortion and birth control. Having the freedom to determine when and if you become a mother is central to women’s success in life. The emotional and financial consequences of unintended pregnancies fall squarely on women.
Vote for candidates who support paid family leave. Women are more likely than men to take on the role of caregiver, whether taking care of a newborn, a school age child or an ailing parent or relative. No woman should have to choose between caring for a loved one and paying her bills.
Vote for candidates who support raising the minimum wage. Women are more likely to work in low wage jobs and more likely to live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage lifts the standard of living for women and their families.
Support governmental and community programs that provide quality affordable childcare. Women should not have to worry about the safety of their children while they are working nor should they have to pay more for quality childcare than they can earn in their jobs.
Support legislation that ensures workers receive fair schedules. Women in low-wage jobs struggle with volatile work schedules that make it difficult for them to care for their families and pay their bills. Women working multiple jobs have difficulty navigating constantly changing schedules and meeting the changing demands of employers.
Support legislation that provides women with paid sick days. When low-wage workers get sick or need to take time off to care for a sick child, they risk not only losing the much needed income from that day’s work, but also possibly their jobs. This kind of job insecurity leaves women particularly vulnerable.
Support legislation and donate time and money to organizations that help battered women and their children escape domestic violence. According to a 2010 study by the CDC, over a third of women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. We must work break the cycle of violence that leaves women physically, emotionally and financially vulnerable.
Vote for candidates who want to expand affordable housing. 84% of homeless families are female headed. Affordable housing helps vulnerable women avoid the hardships and dangers of homelessness.
And while you are supporting women, it’s also OK to tell your mom you love her. I’m hoping for activism with a side of brunch.