Snapshots from the Mothers' Movement

One of the real pleasures I've had as a freelance writer has been working with Judith Stadtman Tucker, who founded Mothers Movement Online. The MMO sought to be a clearinghouse for information about the social, political, and economic status of mothers, in order to support/encourage/fuel the movement.

In a nutshell, as Statman Tucker wrote for the Women's Media site, mothers in our country are not doing well. Underpaid, inflexibly employed, without family-friendly practices in place, a woman raising children will almost inevitably find that she's taking a hit in the workplace and/or that her ability to mother (or daughter; i.e. to caretake) is severely compromised. More than sharing her feelings about this, Stadtmane Tucker makes available the hard facts.

Through MMO, though, she's shared both the numbers and the ideas, and taken on all walk of thorny issues pertaining to motherhood.

She pushed me, for example, to write about the fathers' rights movement, and in doing so I delved into territory I'd never imagined. It was a fascinating chance to learn a lot about this movement and provided me with a crash course–experiential learning–in journalism.

Stadtman Tucker spoke at many conferences and forged connections between activists. In what has kind of always seemed to be an elusive "movement" she put herself right into its roving epicenter. Author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars, Miriam Peskowitz raved on her blog about the Mothertalk gathering she hosted in Philadelphia with Stadtman Tucker. She writes of the evening: "All I can say is that she's the kind of person that when she looks around the room at 11.30 pm, after several hours of conversation, and says expansively, 'This is the revolution,' well, you feel like indeed, you're part of the new century's take on the early 70's famed CR groups. You see yourself as part of history. She has that effect on you."

As an activist turned writer, I so appreciated the range of work I could do for MMO: book reviews, features, interviews, and essays, ranging from heavier on the politics to heavier on the personal. I ended up in some personal hot water at one point, and Judy was an ally and friend, reminding me that speaking out isn't always easy, nor wrong, even when it's difficult. Much of the work I did, in fact, felt like coming full circle, in that I could write about issues that mattered a great deal–to me, and I hope, in the world. Of Stadtman Tucker, Peskowitz writes: "She's also an eloquent and thoughtful speaker, someone who in the name of a refreshingly new feminism can synthesize all that's going on in the world of motherhood: in our interior lives, in the cultural debates we find ourselves in, in the policy intiatives on the horizon."

A year ago, Stadtman Tucker found herself eyeball-deep in the Obama campaign–did I mention she lives in New Hampshire? After helping to elect Obama, she's decided he is right–"We are the change that we seek"–and to that end, she's an editor turned activist (although she's always been an activist). She wrote me in a note that she was ready to just "do" and didn't feel that she was satisfied that what she could accomplish with MMO was proactive enough. I might politely dispute this. But, she's ready to dive into a new phase of her organizing life and I wholeheartedly applaud that. I wrote back that activism is lucky to get her. I am looking forward to following her next steps, and meantime, exceedingly grateful that she allowed me to play a role in the MMO.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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