In the novel section of this class, I learned that authors portray mothers in many different ways. The time period, author’s personal experiences, and genre can all effect how a mother is portrayed in novel. In this section, I read The Secret Life of Bees. I found it interesting that although this book is focused on mothers, there are no actual biological mothers. The Secret Life of Bees showed me that mothers can be shown through womanly figures who provide love and support, not just a birth mother. I think the novel section of this class provided the most insight to mothers, as it allowed for more character formation and depth compared to the other mediums.
I learned that moms are used as “click bait” in news articles. Many articles claim to be about mothers in the title to ensnare the audience, then they fail to mention them again afterwards. The news utilize peoples attachment to mothers in order to gain more viewers/ readers. I also learned that the media is quick to judge mothers who have behaved in ways that go against societies norms. You are much more likely to find an article about a mother who has messed up in some way compared to father who has done the same thing. I think this shows the high regard people place on mothers, that fathers tend to not have to deal with.
The mothers in advertising made me realize that mothers do not necessarily agree with the way they are portrayed in commercials and ads. Many of the moms I survey liked the commercials, but did not think they related to them. Many of the comments made claimed that they had “never seen a mother actually act this way”. The commercials are funny, but still not relevant to the struggles and challenges that mothers face on a daily basis. Although they didn’t necessarily believe the commercials were an accurate representation of motherhood, many said that they would support a product more if they portrayed motherhood accurately. Of the three commercials I provided, the one that go the most positive feedback was the one that the women claimed to relate to more.
In the magazine section, we focused on RedBook in the 1960’s. It was after women were liberated by the women’s rights movement and it was a very clear depiction of them exercising their new freedoms. The articles were insightful and well thought out, juxtaposing many articles from years before (and even current times). It focused mainly on women empowering themselves. It included self-help ads that were about more than baking and cleaning. I think magazines are a great indicator of the social climate during the time. Since they are published so frequently, they tend to stay more current than novels or film.
The Feminine Mystique
Children and Teen's Books
I thought the most interesting part of the music section of this class was the lack of mothers in some genres of music and the prevalence of mothers in others. Country music seems to have many more references to mothers and their impacts on the singer lives, while modern hip-hop has barely any. Rap music seems to have some songs dedicated solely to mothers and apologizing to them/thanking them for what they’ve done. All of the songs seems to put mothers in a positive light, what’s interesting is the overall lack of these songs. Mothers have had a small impact on music, but it seems to be positive overall.
This semester I’ve put more thought into how mother’s are portrayed, stigmatized, and fulfilled than I ever have before. I learned that the media generally does a poor job of portraying a mother’s job, which came as a shock to me as I had always taken what the media showed me at face value. Their job is portrayed as fulfilling, rewarding, and all they should ever want to do in life. The Feminine Mystique showed me that this is wrong. While some mother’s sole desire is to serve their husbands and children, many women desire a career outside of their household-even if it is not necessary financially. Not all women find their fulfillment in being a mother. Mothers have a much more demanding role than is generally portrayed by the media. Through the surveys, I learned that most mothers do not agree with how the media portrays their jobs, especially the commercials. They believe that the general media shows their job as too easy. Moms are the backbone of society, yet they are shown as meek and subservient. They have the task of raising up the future generations, yet they are generally dismissed as simple housewives. I think the most important takeaway from this class is that mothers have the most difficult, unrewarding job of all. Yet, despite the lack of applause (and pay) they do it anyways. A quote I read feels like an accurate summation of what we’ve learned about mother’s and their roles in society “a mother does what nobody notices until its not done”.