Earlier this month, daddy blogger Matt Walsh stirred up some major mommy-war muck when he passionately defended his wife, a stay-at-home mom, to “condescending” working mothers. Now another male voice has joined him: that of Dr. Aric Sigman, a UK psychologist, biologist and author, who recently encouraged full-time moms to rise up against their critics.
“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’…” Sigman told a crowd of moms in London at the Mothers at Home Matter annual conference last week, according to the Telegraph. “I have heard how full-time mothers are described. The tone seems to be that they are not as interesting, that they have taken a step down both socially and intellectually but also in terms of esteem. If you applied any other kind of minority group tag to that, there would be an outcry.”
Clarifying his comments for Yahoo Shine, Sigman—well known mainly for his controversial assertion that daycare can cause long-term, development damage for young children—admitted that “motherism," a phrase he believed he coined, isn’t exactly like racism or sexism. “In terms of seriousness, obviously not,” he says.
“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,” he explains. “I think an unintended consequence of women’s struggle for the right to work is that it now means a woman is forced to work as soon as possible after having a baby, so it’s really pulled a fast one on women. The original feminism has become strange bedfellows with market capitalism.”
Unlike Walsh—who appeared thrown last week when he learned of the vitriol that runs through the so-called mommy wars—Sigman, an American father of four who lives in England, seems aware of, but still perplexed by, what he’s stepping into. “‘Women should be tied to the kitchen sink’ is always the way this conversation is hijacked,” he says. “I would’ve thought it was a fairly obvious thing to say, ‘Don’t diss mothers.’”
Sigman, whose books include “Alcohol Nation,” “The Spoilt Generation” and “Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives,” says he’s been surprised to hear how some people react to women who say they are stay-at-home moms. “‘Yes, but what do you do?’ they say. It’s almost a form of bullying.”
About differing parental roles, he says, “The politically-correct assumption is that mothers and fathers are interchangeable. But they aren’t always at the same time. In the womb, babies only recognize their mother’s voice, and only the mother can breastfeed, so it does take a bit of time before a father can take over in the same kind of way. American culture is very impatient about this.”
Basically, he adds, what his point comes down to is this: “While you are at home, whether by choice or necessity, you shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it.”