Our Opinion: Let's talk about mom

Mother's Day is Sunday. By now you've probably read a dozen articles and opinion pieces on what the day "really means," what it ought to mean instead, who really started it, and how it should be celebrated. Likewise you've probably been told at least once to honor your mother...whether she deserves it or not.

For the media, Mother's Day is a fantastic jumping-off point for whatever a pundit or editorial board would like to say about any issue even tangentially-related to women.

It would normally be weird for us to suddenly bring up the issue of, let's say, breastfeeding in public outside some sort of breastfeeding legislation being discussed. But around Mother's Day, we can go with something like, "Mother's Day is coming up, shining a spotlight on the issue of women breastfeeding in public."

It's always "shining a spotlight" or "highlighting." Mother's Day isn't highlighting the topic at hand, it's the media doing that, using the holiday as a framing device or a "news hook."

Mother's Day works pretty well for stuff like this. Got an economic plan you think needs support? Would it also help mothers? Write about how great the plan is, how it would help working moms, mention that Mother's Day is coming up and bam, you got yourself a timely think-piece. Maybe you hate the economic plan instead? Mother's Day has you covered. Copy the above formula, only write about how the plan will hurt working moms and boom, you're good to go.

Abortion, war, health care, gender roles, marketing, crime, Mother's Day provides a news hook for all.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as with some topics any excuse to bring them up is a good one. Take for example a guest editorial published online May 7 by The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.) written by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd titled "Calling all mothers."

Todd writes that the vast majority of the child sex crimes she's seen in her 17 years on the bench were perpetrated by men. Not men slinking around in the bushes around playgrounds, but boyfriends, uncles, family friends, teachers, coaches, and fathers; people the child victims knew and trusted.

"So, as we anticipate Mother's Day, I urge all mothers to be vigilant in protecting our community's children," Todd writes, calling out mothers and invoking Mother's Day.

As a newspaper that routinely covers sex crimes against children, we don't dispute a single word Todd writes nor do we take issue with her using Mother's Day as a reason to bring the matter up. All we'd add is that if 96 percent of child sex crimes are committed by men, then it's men who should take notice and get their act together rather than relying on moms to, as usual, do all the work.

Mother's Day is also great for blogging moms. A popular topic among them seems to be how much they hate Mother's Day. They say it's too commercial, it's inadequate, it puts mothers on a pedestal, it puts pressure on childless women, and so on and so forth.

If you really want to fill some inches on a page or eat up some bandwidth there's the historical pieces. The origins of Mother's Day are, fittingly, complex, as TIME's Olivia Waxman demonstrates in her piece "The Surprisingly Sad Origins of Mother's Day" published online Thursday. She lays most of the credit for the holiday as we've come to know it at the feet of Anna Jarvis, who got the Mother's Day ball really rolling in order to honor her own female parent.

The piece details the efforts of several others who led Mother's Day efforts that varied in scope and motivation.

One thing is clear, there's a lot to say about mothers and motherhood and that Mother's Day is as good a time to say those things as any.


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