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Does 'motherism' exist? Prejudice against stay-at-home moms

By Tracie Snowder  |  Posted Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:28pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Are you prejudiced against stay-at-home moms? Do you think they’re wasting their talent and education? If you answered yes, you might be a motherist.

Dr. Aric Sigman, a biologist and psychologist from the United Kingdom, is calling on people to stop being "motherists" — what he claims is discrimination against mothers who stay home to raise their kids.

Sigman says he coined the term “motherism," but told Yahoo it’s "not exactly" like racism or sexism.

“In terms of seriousness, obviously not,” Sigman told Yahoo. “This is not to attack working mothers at all, but I think we live in a high-performance culture, which respects professional achievement above all else.”

Some stay-at-home moms report being told they’re wasting their talent and abilities.

“You should take on 'motherism’ — the prejudice against stay-at-home mothers — a prejudice that expresses itself in derogatory clichés like: 'You gain a baby and lose a brain’ and comments that refer to 'schoolgate mother mentality,' or to being 'willingly self-lobotomised,’ ” Sigman said to a crowd at a Mothers at Home Matter conference, according to the Telegraph.


There is also a prejudice against women who look after their children but aren't dowdy; women who go back to work after having had children; women who stay out of work but also employ nannies; women who work part-time and look after their children the rest of the time.

–Zoe Williams


Blogger Matt Walsh wrote a blog post last October that praises stay-at-home mothers. It goes hand-in-hand with Sigman’s argument that a one-sided motherism exists, and says working mothers are condescending towards their at-home counterparts.

“This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for ‘stay at home’ mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused?” Walsh wrote. “If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly.”

Walsh received a lot of backlash for generalizing the thoughts of working mothers, but also received praise from mothers who feel lonely and say they receive no recognition for the hard work they do at home.

Sigman says that's the best way to raise kids — to have a parent, preferrably the mother, to stay at home raising their kids — and America agrees with him. According to a recent Pew report, 60 percent of Americans think that children are better off when a parent stays at home. And with a rise in mothers who are choosing to stay at home, more mothers might be experiencing discrimination or “motherism.”

But is this new term just another unnecessary voice in the “Mommy Wars”? Is the "motherism" debate aiming to give mothers the recognition they deserve? Or is it another voice to pit women against each other? Zoe Williams says yes in her column for theguardian.com.

Online Poll

Do you think motherism exists?
1. Yes, for all mothers
2. Yes, for stay-at-home moms
3. Yes, for working moms
4. Sometimes
5. No, and I don't agree with the concept
Do you think motherism exists?
1. Yes, for all mothers
2. Yes, for stay-at-home moms
3. Yes, for working moms
4. Sometimes
5. No, and I don't agree with the concept

“There is also a prejudice against women who look after their children but aren't dowdy; women who go back to work after having had children; women who stay out of work but also employ nannies; women who work part-time and look after their children the rest of the time,” she wrote for Theguardian.com.

The definition of motherism by Sigman is discriminatory against working moms, Williams said, and should actually include each and every mother who faces discrimination in every facet of her life.

"I think the only way you could gain approval for your time-management, as a mother, would be to look after your children all the time," Williams wrote, "as well as working full-time but for some socially useful enterprise (ideally voluntary work), while never relying on a man for money, yet never claiming benefits either."

Do you think motherism exists for stay-at-home moms or all moms? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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