Make Truth, Not War

April 30, 2007

Just call her E.J. Graff, feminist myth-buster.

After debunking the idea that women in huge numbers were “opting out” of the workplace for a more domestic life, Graff, a senior researcher at the Brandeis Institute for Investigative Journalism, is now taking on the media’s latest construction: the “Mommy War Machine.”

Graff identifies a number of recent articles and talk-show topics that resurrect a long-standing story: the “juicy tale of mothers who work and moms who stay home, dissing each other on playgrounds and in school parking lots with junior-high-level bile.”

But this war is a fiction: “The ballyhooed Mommy Wars exist mainly in the minds — and the marketing machines — of the media and publishing industry, which have been churning out mom vs. mom news flashes since, believe it or not, the 1950s. All while the number of working mothers has been rising.”

Listen to Graff talk about “The Mommy War Machine” on Monday’s edition of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

Plus: “Ask This,” a project of the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, is running a series by Graff that suggests ways for reporters and editors to focus on what Ruth Rosen has called the “care crisis” in America. Here’s part one, part two and part three.

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