'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, May 13, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Eve Ensler, Michelle Goldberg, Jamila Bey, Katie Roiphe, Pamela Druckerman, Chellie Pingree, Hannah Pingree
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. Happy Mother`s Day.
I`m Chris Hayes.
Local officials in Yemen say U.S. drone strikes there killed 11 al
Qaeda militants yesterday. That claim could not be independently
confirmed. And the odds are higher that you`ll be stopped and frisked for
doing nothing wrong if you come to visit New York City, especially if you
come as a black man.
"The Associated Press" reports the number of police stops and frisks
rose to 203,000 in the first three months of 2012.
Mayor Bloomberg, our invitation to appear on this program is, of
course, still open.
Right now, I want to start with my story of the week: towards a real
There are two big differences between last Mother`s Day and this one
-- one political, the other personal. The political difference is that not
only does this Mother`s Day take place during an election year, it hits
just a few weeks after motherhood, the value of mothers and women`s work
more broadly were at the center of a news cycle.
Apparently, hoping to revive this theme, Ann Romney wrote an op-ed in
"USA Today" called "Three Seasons of Motherhood." A bit of cult of
domesticity nostalgia that extols, quote, "the crown of glory that all
The personal difference for me, of course, is the birth of my
daughter. Today, I`ll be celebrating Mother`s Day with my own mom and the
mother of my child. So much about the birth of one`s first child is vivid
and indelible. Almost as if it happened in another country you briefly
visited and might go back to.
But there`s one specific moment that stuck with me that I think about
a lot in the context of our national political conversation about mothers
and children, and social opportunity and hard work. It`s the terrifying
surreal moment when you leave the hospital. Crossing the threshold into
the fresh air, bearing this tiny creature toward a waiting car and you
think, this is it. There`s no one there to say goodbye or to, do you need
a ride or do you need help?
I was doing this with someone I love and have known for 15 years, we
had a car and jobs and money in the bank account, and I was heading home to
an apartment where my mother-in-law would be waiting for us to offer her
help and guidance and expertise. It was still absolutely terrifying.
The message at that moment from the hospital, from the society was:
you`re on your own. And I felt overwhelmingly grateful for all the
privileges and resources I had access to that were there to support us as
we tried to keep this impossible little creature alive and thriving.
I think it`s a common feeling actually. Ann Romney, in her op-ed
about the glory of motherhood, wrote that she`d never even held a baby
until she had her own and, so, quote, "You can imagine, the day my first
boy was born I felt woefully unprepared." Like me, Ann Romney had someone
there to help, her mother who stayed with her for two weeks. And when she
left, Romney says "I cried like I was the baby."
But Ann Romney was one of the lucky mothers.
I keep imagining what that moment of crossing out through the sliding
doors of Mt. Sinai would be like if you were, say, 24 years old, and single
with no family nearby to help and a job that paid just enough to make ends
meet but didn`t give any paid family leave. What do we say to those
mothers, and what do we, as a society say to those children? Mostly,
nothing. "Good luck." "Work hard." This is what equal opportunity looks
It doesn`t have to be this way. In Britain, a health visitor, a
certified nurse, checks in with you about 10 days after your baby is born.
They and the National Health Service provide contact information for
midwives, child health clinics, and support groups.
If you`re a single parent, an agency will even help facilitate child
care arrangements. In France, mothers have the option to go on paid job
leave, months before the baby is due. Nurses regularly visit the homes of
newborns, and it costs the parents nothing.
In Estonia, women get four-and-a-half months paid maternal leave
guaranteed. Paid maternal leave is the norm across every industrialized
nation, while here at home we have the Family Medical Leave Act, passed
with a great bit of fanfare and over significant opposition that grants
eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, protected job
leave. Just 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for both the birth
and care of a newborn.
A recent survey found that 40 percent of working mothers took six
weeks or fewer of maternity leave. Twelve percent took less than two
Given that, it`s not surprising that in its annual "State of the
World`s Mothers" report released this week, the NGO Save the Children found
that the U.S. ranked 25th, behind Hungary, Lithuania and Belarus. That`s
partly because we rank 41st in mortality rates for children under 5 and
have a worse rate of pregnancy-related death than any other industrialized
Let me say that again -- we have worse rates of pregnancy-related
death than any other industrialized nation.
We also have scarce access to daycare and pre-K. We come dead last
among industrialized countries -- behind Malta -- in our policy to
For all these reasons, the U.S. markedly underperforms on the
rankings given its very high GDP, while places like Brazil and the Czech
You`ll notice that the nations at the top of the Save the Children
list are social democracies like Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Belgium and the
Netherlands. Even as European social democracy is dismantled by neo-
liberalism and the pressure of austerity, there remains a broad durable
political consensus that mothers should not be on their own, that a right
to maternal leave is a basic part of citizenship and what the state owes
each of its new citizens is nurture and support.
This ethos was famously derided by England`s Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher as the "nanny state." It was an insult she used as a rallying cry
as she led the Tories in their dismantling of much of the social democratic
features of England in the 1980s.
Conservatives in the U.S. still throw around the term of opprobrium
today and it`s meant to invoke a government that acts like a meddlesome
governess: telling us what we can and can`t do, infantilizing us, denying
us our freedom and agency and full subjectivity.
But the nanny state is a fitting name for a state that gives mothers
the support that a nanny can: relief, another set of hands, a set of
watchful, trusted eyes. It means a society in which even those without Ann
Romney`s privilege, without the good fortune of a big bank account or a
large, intact support network, don`t have to mother alone.
As one of the many millions of parents negotiating the difficult,
fraught world of balancing work and parenthood, that kind of nanny state
sounds mighty appealing.
Right now joining me today, we have Jamila Bey, contributor to the
"Washington Post" blog, "She the People," and a reporter for Voice of
Katie Roiphe, author of "The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism,"
contributor to "Newsweek" and "Daily Beast," and a columnist for Slate.com.
Tony Award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, best known for "The Vagina
Monologue." Her most recent play is "Emotional Creature" (AUDIO BREAK)
movement to end violence against women and girls, which launched the
campaign One Billion Rising.
And "Newsweek" and "Daily Beast" senior contributing writer, Michelle
Goldberg, returning to UP, author of "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power
and the Future of the World."
It`s great to have you all here.
This, can we start with this Ann Romney op-ed? I thought it was an
interesting documentary for a number of reasons.
First of all as a political foray to I think calculate it to revive
conversation politically that was happening earlier, which I think was the
first time that the Romney campaign felt they were effectively making some
sort of affirmative argument in gender terms, because they were basically
getting their butts handed to them for weeks and weeks, and months and
months, over a variety of political battles over particularly birth
Then there was, of course, the moment when it completely unaffiliated
Democratic operative on CNN said something about you know, never working a
day in her life. With a clear implication about not understanding this
particular pull between negotiating these two commitments.
And they manufacture controversy out of it which then died down and
now seem to be reviving.
Michelle, why do you think this op-ed from the strategic perspective
and political perspective, why was it placed in the paper?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: Well, obviously, part of it
is that they are trying to revive this controversy, right? I mean, they
also have this new super PAC ad out about basically, yes, Ann Romney under
attack for being a mother. To me, it`s kind of amazing that they`re still
milking this thing, you know?
I mean, wonder -- I mean, it can`t only be me that kind of initially
saw Ann Romney as maybe a sympathetic or neutral figure. But who is
increasingly seeing her as someone who is kind of insufferable for the way
she`s milking this thing.
And, you know, I mean, in a lot of ways, the op-ed was totally
anodyne, right? She`s -- you know, yes, motherhood is beautiful. I found
that phrase, the crown of motherhood, really kind of creepy. Not just
because of it`s like somewhat you know -- I mean, it`s kind of usually
really authoritarian societies that give out like the cross of motherhood,
that give awards for big families, Stalin did it, Hitler did it.
But the other part of it is that it plays into this thing where what
we -- you know, we have this kind of compact in the United States where
what we deny women in social support or status or kind of economic
security, we make up for in sort of I had condescending praise.
We make up for in sort of insipid, condescending phrase.
HAYES: I think we do the same thing -- it`s funny you said that
because we do the exactly the same thing with troops. That`s another kind
of cultural figure where if you look at, you know, three tours of duty,
average length of deployment is increased, longer wait times in the V.A.
And the way we make up for the substantive lack of support for them
is by the hero worship. And there`s a similar cultural role. One of the
things I found interesting about the Ann Romney op-ed is that it almost --
I don`t want to say that it reads a little like a hostage video, there`s a
certain degree to which through -- no, through the subtext of it. I mean,
she`s talking about praising it. But she is honest about the difficulties,
I mean, in the part that I`m citing, she said, "The day my first boy
was born I felt woefully unprepared. My mother took pity on me and stayed
for two weeks, but that wasn`t nearly enough. As she was preparing to
leave, I cried like I was the baby. I told her I wasn`t ready, I had no
idea what to do."
Later, "People often ask me what it was like to raise five boys. I
won`t sugar-coat it. There were times I wanted to tear my hair out. I can
remember visiting my friends` houses, seeing their daughters` manners, the
way they helped with the chores. Then I would return to boys, hoping that
only my house was still intact."
This is all part of the oh, motherhood for hard, high jinks, but
there`s also I feel a core of genuine --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Desperation.
HAYES: -- desperation. Because you know what? It is super-hard,
she was raising five boys without, as admitted by Mitt Romney, a ton of
help from Mitt Romney, right?
EVE ENSLER, PLAYWRIGHT: I also think that, I don`t know what the
line was, but there`s one line in there. It`s kind of like -- and then she
left me and I was like, I knew I had to tough it up.
ENSLER: Like I had to tough it and she had done it and she had been
a good mother. And I was thinking, is this what we have to do with
motherhood, we have to tough it up, you know? It`s that whole American,
you know, cowboy mentality. You know what I mean? You`re left alone with
a baby, you have no idea what you`re doing, you have -- in many cases, you
have no money, you have no support, but you`re going to tough it up.
HAYES: Right, and not be coddled, right?
ENSLER: Not be coddled. You`re going to figure it out on your own.
But it happens to be a live person you`re figuring it out with. You know,
that`s the only problem.
And I think it was an interesting data I read somewhere where they
interviewed children about what they felt about working parents, you know?
And the interesting thing that came up was they weren`t disturbed by the
lack of time that working parents, they were disturbed by how stressed and
exhausted their parents were.
And it really hit me. You know, is that really how we want to bring
children into the world with, that kind of macho, your mother will be
sitting there like brittle and terrified --
GOLDBERG: It actually is. We do want as a society, we want to bring
children into the world, with the message that you`re on your own and
ENSLER: Exactly, ever, ever.
HAYES: I want to get to where this line between the public and
private sort of comes down, because that is the broader policy framework
for this -- right after we take a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: That`s the gang, those are the five
boys. I hate to say it, but often, I had more than five sons. I had six
sons. And he would be as mischievous and as naughty as the other boys.
He`d come home and, everything would just explode again. And that`s the
kind of energy that he`d bring home and just get them all riled up again.
You know, wrestling and throwing balls and just being a kid himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The subtext in that. That was a video put up by the Romney
campaign. The subtext overwhelms the text. This line and that`s the kind
of energy he would bring home and get them all riled up again.
I`m imagining, OK, you`re a mother of five boys, getting them calm is
basically the most difficult thing in the world. And you know, it`s late
at night and you have them all down and calm and then in comes dad and he`s
GOLDBERG: I had six -- to me, that line it`s amazing to me that the
line I felt like I didn`t have five boys, I had six boys, that`s amazing
that`s not in a Romney ad, and not in an Obama ad. Because it seems it`s
so incredibly damning.
HAYES: Right, it`s tantalizing and --
KATIE ROIPHE, AUTHOR, "THE MORNING AFTER": It sounds like it`s 1950.
It sounds so outdated. This is not the America that we live in today.
And one of the things I find really disturbing about this image is,
is that`s not really what the American family looks like right now. And I
think one thing we`d want to say, especially on Mother`s Day, we`re living
in a country where when we look at women under 30, 53 percent of the babies
born to them are born to single mothers. That is the majority of babies
born to women under 30 are born to single mothers. So that those kind of
images are actually sort of alienating to much of America.
GOLDBERG: You think so? Because I think that those images are meant
to speak to exactly that. I mean, for the Republican Party, that`s
precisely, the problem, right? So, this is the kind of ideal to which they
-- they aspire.
ROIPHE: Our society is falling to pieces, so this is our world. But
I think it`s -- I think it`s outdated and I think it`s -- I don`t think it
may be having a different effect.
HAYES: I wonder also, that I think it`s a really interesting point.
I wonder if there`s, I think there`s a relationship between the degree to
which the reality, the live reality of America families changes and changes
and changes and the political appeal of a model that is increasingly
unattainable, right? Those two things I think are very connected.
And if you look at things like teen pregnancy or rates of divorce,
they`re very high in the red states, right? Those are the places to which
that -- and also along class lines. We live in this very bizarre,
increasingly bifurcated world in which, you know, the elite and upper
middle class have families that look more like the 1950s norm and you know,
the working class and poor and even middle class have families that look
less and less like that.
That`s -- that plays all sorts of interesting roles I think in the
ENSLER: No, it`s just setting up that kind of story dilution, like
the leave it to Beaver idea. So that the fact that your own life doesn`t
mirror that experience, then again makes you feel like you`re somehow
failing. Or that you haven`t lived up to this absurd notion that nobody is
I`m not sure any state anybody is living this because there`s so much
divorce and there`s so much -- and I think the kind of perpetuation of that
notion of family is very destructive to people who are struggling in very
many different ways.
JAMILA BEY, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: And also there`s a point to be made
that you know, fathers are fathering more in America.
BEY: They`re spending time with their kids. They`re not an
inconvenience to moms. Moms usually like tag, you`re it.
BEY: Take your child, I have a date with Calgon.
To me when I read that op-ed, I`m glad you brought up the crown thing
because first thing I heard in my head was crown of thorns.
You know, but who -- holds moms in such esteem to which they are
granted a crown of anything? Mothers in this country do not have the
luxury of -- I mean, esteem. You go into a restaurant, you see a woman and
a baby, you go, I don`t want to be there.
It`s comedy to talk about women and mothers on planes. We do not
want to see families in this society at large.
GOLDBERG: And we haven`t used the word mommy as a term of kind of
derision, right? The very fact that you would call like a kind of cheesy
book from the `50s, mommy porn -- that you`re suggesting it`s kind of cheap
and a little tacky.
HAYES: We`ll be doing two hours on "Fifty Shades of Grey" just a
Just one thing I think that interestingly complicates this picture
and I think one of the thing that`s fascinating about this political
terrain of mother, political terrain of family, political terrain of
women`s roles is that to me the arc of progress is not the arch of progress
is pretty clear for a certain period and then it gets very wavy and
complicated, tangled and move back on itself.
Lenore Romney, Mitt Romney`s own mother, ran for Senate in Michigan
in 1970, lamented in her concession speech that gender worked against her,
said, "It was disappointing to find that so many people close their minds
just because I was a woman." And told a group of students in 1971, Mitt
Romney`s mother in 1971, "The role of women today doesn`t begin and end
with homemaking, a woman needs to contribute to society to make her life
That`s Mitt Romney`s mom.
GOLDBERG: Wasn`t she a big supporter of the ERA (ph)?
HAYES: She was. And again, this is where this sort of progress and
regress and more on that right after this break.
HAYES: "What I Did for Love" -- of course, it`s a great show. And I
love that song.
We -- I want to talk about the kind of policy framework that
underlies this, because these two things interact, right? The conception -
- the cultural conception of motherhood and family and what we do as part
of the social contract, sort of what I was talking about in the opening
And nothing captures the fraught ideological terrain that is in
conflict, that`s being waged. And the reason that the Romney campaign
thinks it`s advantageous to press this case, the reason that they went the
other way, to have Ann Romney place a op-ed precisely on this, is because
they think they have the better part of this argument about what -- where
the line between government and the public life ends and private life
And a perfect example are two books written, one by a prominent
Democrat, one by a prominent Republican, Hillary Clinton famously wrote a
book called, "It Takes a Village," which got a ton of -- it`s a very,
segment producer Sal Gentile was reading through it to find really crisp
quotes. The book is a pretty anodyne book. Overall, like it`s not the
kind of radical tone about the stake coming in and taking your kid away.
"It Takes a Village."
And Rick Santorum wrote a book that was sort of obvious response, we
can show it again. "It Takes a Family," right?
So, that right there is the kind of division space, right? That is
why -- and it`s the Rick Santorum conception of family that is dominant one
in so far as when you look at the American political framework, right?
ROIPHE: Yes. I mean, I think one thing that`s strange is that our
imagination of what family is and the demographic reality, there`s such a
strange chasm and divide. And so, we`re sort of oppressed by this
pervasive, prevailing fantasy in American culture which is not true in
Europe, is not true in other places, where being a single mother in France
and public life is just really not a big deal.
But our stigmas and taboos here endure, you know, long after the
sexual revolution, long after women have huge success in so many areas. I
think the endurance of that kind of dissonance is sort of interesting.
HAYES: And I think that plays into why -- part of why we can`t, why
we can`t have nice things. Why we can`t have social democracy is the idea,
right, that the benefits of anything that I was just talking there would go
to single moms, right? Young single moms, young black single moms, right?
God forbid. That`s --
GOLDBERG: It was not even that it would go to them and that it would
kind of encourage more people to live that kind of life because it wouldn`t
be so -- you know, because it wouldn`t be so difficult.
GOLDBERG: So you know, I mean, there`s a connection, there`s always
been a connection between kind of the extreme social conservatism of the
right and small government conservatism. I feel like people really lost
that when the Tea Party first came on the scene and people thought it was
some sort of a new libertarian force, because it was mostly concerned with
kind of cutting the welfare states.
But I think that from the right, this is a holistic ideology.
GOLDBERG: That the reason you need to encourage stable, self-
sufficient families is otherwise the welfare state is going to kind of have
to come in and fill in the gaps. And reason that the welfare state is kind
of in a lot of ways to them as much of a threat as the threat of sexual
immorality, or else, there`s kind of a symbiotic problem.
ROIPHE: I just also feel like with the "It Takes a Village," "It
Takes a Family" -- sometimes the village is happier than a family.
Sometimes there`s something oppressive or unhappy or miserable in sort of a
conventional nuclear family, and that the village model where you have kid
who is like staying with their aunts and hanging out with friends and in a
HAYES: Or in day care.
ROIPHE: Or in a more unconventional situation, that actually might
be a better situation sometimes.
And I think one of the things that one of our problems in this
country is that we`ve sort of put this idea of it takes a family above the
kind of myriad varieties of human happiness that actually exist in the
ENSLER: I think also, that the village is much more empowering to
women fundamentally. I think when you isolate women and you say, you will
be relegated to the nuclear family inside your house, inside your home
where you will be essentially disappeared, you have less power, you know?
When you are in a village, you can actually give your child to someone to
take for a while so you can do other things, you can think, you can
breathe. You can have space in your own life --
BEY: The idea of "It Takes a Family" is not always, but in many
cases a religious one as well that says, I am the master of my dominion of
my home. I am the highest to God figure in this house and I will rear up
my child in the way they want to go."
So, when you have usually in this country, we have usually Christian
people who want to pull their children out of schools and home school them.
They have the money to keep mom at home.
HAYES: Homeschooling is the ultimate example of precisely the most
radical vision of this where the line between public and private is drawn.
BEY: And Rick Santorum -- home schooling.
HAYES: Of course, and here`s Rick Santorum very quickly just talking
about -- because you talk about happiness, and I think that`s so key. One
of the social conservative critiques that have emerged is that actually
post second wave feminism makes women unhappy, right? That the
expectations, here he is in his audio book making precisely this point.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many women have
told me and surveys have shown that they find it easier, more
professionally gratifying and certainly more socially affirming to work
outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their
children. The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional
family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Rick Santorum was confronted about this section of his book
because it sounds quite alienating. This was --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think?
HAYES: And there was a concern what if this guy actually is the
nominee and George Stephanopoulos asked him a question about that section
of the book. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: What do you say to people who
believe that those kinds of comments are going to alienate women, make you
an easier candidate to beat in a general election?
SANTORUM: Well, that section of the book was co-written by my wife
who is a nurse and a lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He throws his wife under the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do as I do, do as I say, right?
HAYES: Exactly. Who he notes was a nurse and a lawyer, which I
think is interesting.
Mother and daughter politicians -- and I want to talk about politics,
because it`s a huge part of this, right? Why do we have the politics we
about motherhood, partly because there`s not a lot of mother politicians in
the grand scheme of things.
So, we`re going to talk to mother/daughter politicians, one of them
is a member of Congress, right after this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that piece of the mother song.
HAYES: I should note that today`s bump-in music provided by the
mothers of the staff.
All right. House Republicans this week passed a bill that would
replace the automatic defense spending cuts agreed to as part of last
year`s Budget Control Act, with $300 billion in cuts to domestic spending
instead. We should just be clear there was a deal that was struck I just
want to emphasize, there was a deal that was struck, to have penalties
essentially that would cut against both political constituencies if the
supercommittee didn`t come to an agreement, remember?
And the first thing the Republicans in the House have done after the
supercommittee didn`t come to agreement is to welsh on the deal. Just so
that we`re clear about what the terms are here, that is being proposed
And the reason they were supposed to be scared of the supercommittee
not getting anything done what that there would be large cuts to defense,
relatively large, I should say. We`ll still spend, of course, more money
on defense than the next 20 countries combined, or something like that.
All right. And the cuts they`re proposing though, and this is
important -- it`s a one-to-one dollar transfer from these programs to the
military -- included eliminating the federal social services block grant
which provides hundreds of millions of dollars for child care every year,
removing 1.8 million people from the federal food stamp program or SNAP
which cut the number of extremely poor children during the recession in
half. The bill would also cut nearly 300,000 children from the rolls of
the children`s health insurance program, which is widely held as a massive
policy success, and the bill would remove another 280,000 children from low
income families from the free school lunch program.
Democrats meanwhile have introduced a bill called the Pregnant
Workers Fairness Act which would require employers could make reasonable
workplace accommodation for pregnant women. This strikes me -- again, this
won`t get the cover of "Time" magazine because it`s not as sexy as breast-
feeding until they`re 4 in the mommy wars. But that`s a lot of money for
GOLDBERG: If you still remember a couple of months, when we were
talking about the Buffett Rule, we heard over and over again that the
Buffett Rule was a scam because it was only going to raise $50 billion and
it`s not going to put a dent in our budget crisis, but a lot of the items
on this list, with $50 billion, you could eliminate these cuts to the block
grant program -- like suddenly kind of $50 billion becomes really important
to cut out of the budget deficit when it`s coming out of programs for women
HAYES: And I think there`s a relationship conceptually between being
able to pass those things as a Republican and still say you`re pro family,
because if you conceive the responsibility for the family being the family
itself, the responsibility of finding child care being internal to the
household. Then this is not a contradiction, right?
ENSLER: Well, I think it`s so much about what kind of society we
want America to be. Do we want it to be a nurturing society? Or it seems
like just thinking about the program and reading about parenting and
thinking about how we live in this culture, which is so capitalist and so
consumer and so buying -- and so, nurturing is so antithetical to that, to
say you want to live in a world where people getting taken care of, right,
where babies get taken care of, where people were taken care of, where
teachers are valued, where nurses are valued.
It`s really a way of re-conceptualizing what this country actually
is, you know?
HAYES: But that sounds like a -- from a conservative perspective,
and I`m not saying -- I`m giving the conservative argument response to
that. I think in good faith, to the extent I can. That`s a society that
incentivizes laziness. That nurturing is -- and this actually, the model
extends to the way that we think about parenting, right? I mean, the same
way that we understand giving in to, you can over nurture your child,
right? You can nurture them too much, you can --
BEY: Some would argue that you can over-nurture your child. And
some would say, well, that`s not the case. The World Health Organization
recommends that children be exclusively breastfed if possible for the first
six months of their life. How can you have social policy that says we want
to have healthy children, we want to decrease the rates of obesity in our
children, we want to decrease the rates of asthma in our children. But you
know what? Take yourself back to work after three weeks, because you`ve
got yourself pregnant and it`s all on you to do.
That is a social policy issue that is backed up by science and we
don`t have policy in place to support that.
HAYES: I should note one aspect to the Affordable Care Act, is that
it requires employers to provide a room for mothers who are breastfeeding -
- either breastfeed or pumps, that one small --
BEY: A room, how much time?
HAYES: Except for one that have less than 50 employees.
I want to bring in two women who have lived out the struggle in their
lives and in their careers as lawmakers, Democratic Congresswoman Chellie
Pingree of Maine, who is elected at the House of Representatives in 2008,
her daughter, Hannah Pingree, is the former speaker of the House Maine of
Happy Mother`s Day to both of you. Thank you both for joining us. I
REP. CHELLIE PINGREE (D), MAINE: Absolutely.
FMR. STATE REP. HANNAN PINGREE (D-ME), HOUSE SPEAKER: Happy Mother`s
Day to you.
HAYES: Can we talk a little bit about -- I want to talk about the
relationship between the kinds of policies we see and the social contract
we have, which I think is very incomplete in how it responds to mothers and
children and the fact that we don`t have more mothers as politicians. It`s
a basic brute demographic fact of who we elect to represent us in state
houses and in Congress.
H. PINGREE: Sure, well I mean first of all, most people probably
understand this, there aren`t enough women in politics. Congress is now 17
Where I`m from in Maine, the legislature is less than 30 percent
women. And, obviously, many of those have been mothers, but not all. So,
we have politics still very male dominated. Which means women`s
perspectives and mother`s perspectives are very much left out.
C. PINGREE: And many of the issues you were just talking about, it
feels like they`re extending the war on women to the war on mothers and
families. And I do think when you get, you know, women who have been
mothers, who are thinking about family issues, the cost of child care, the
cost to feed your kid, what it takes to get a kid through school and
educate them in college, women bring a different sensibility to that.
There`s no question, whatever party you`re in.
HAYES: Representative Chellie Pingree and her daughter, Hannah
Pingree, former speaker of the Maine House, I want to talk to you about how
you have negotiated the twin poles of being a mother and a career in
politics right after this break.
HAYES: Congresswoman Pingree, I want you to talk about how -- how
you got into politics. My understanding is that Hannah played a role in
But also when I think about right now, going through this myself, I
have a five and a half-month-old daughter and people in my cohort are
trying to navigate, particularly moms who have taken maternity leave, re-
entering the workforce and me as a dad, figuring out time constraints of
being present in my daughter`s life and also doing my job -- politics seems
like a 24-hour commitment. And I think there are social expectations of
motherhood that make it hard to go to the local Kiwanis Club at 7:00 at
night and be out of town that much.
And I`m curious how you -- how you negotiated that.
C. PINGREE: Well, it`s an important thing to think about. Hannah
can give her perspective, too, as a mother now. But when I was considering
this, it was really the furthest thing from my mind. I ran a small farm.
We lived in a very small town.
But I took -- Hannah was another mom and he daughter was about 14, to
go listen to pat Schroeder speak. It was a long way from our home and it
was a big adventure, we heard Pat Schroeder, who was in Congress at the
time, one of the few women at the time, this was in `92, and she said not
enough good people running for office.
And somebody actually came up to me afterwards and said, you ought to
think running for the state legislature. And it was the furthest thing
from my mind. As most mothers, I was trying to put together my own, you
know, working situation, our own family situation. I just couldn`t
And I turned to Hannah and she said, you should go for it. It was an
interesting kind of validation, as a mom, you worry about, oh, my God, I
won`t give enough to my kids. I had three kids, she was the oldest.
So for her to say it to me, it helped me to have the opportunity to
think about it to say, maybe I could do this. In the end, I -- just as you
said, I`ve been forced to spend a lot of time away from home. Sometimes I
found -- I missed my kids more than they missed me because they were busy
with their own lives.
H. PINGREE: No, I mean, for me, obviously I was 14 years old. So,
she wasn`t changing diapers and my brother was a little bit younger, but
you know, the three of us were thrilled for our mom, we got to go knock on
doors and be involved in her campaign -- which probably is how I got the
political bug and why I got so involved in politics today.
So, for me I think it was amazing to have a mom as a political role
model. And, obviously, that`s how we changed politics, to have a lot more
moms as political role models.
C. PINGREE: But Hannah is a mom now, too, so you have a very
H. PINGREE: I mean, I will say I was term limited from the
legislature a year and a half ago and have a 14-month-old. And there -- I
mean, it would have been an incredible challenge to have speaker of the
House with a young baby. And, you know, I think there are some realities
in politics, especially when you`re at the highest level of politics and
leading your party and caucus, that would be very difficult.
And I could not imagine obviously having been, having a 3-month-old
while being speaker of the House would have been very difficult. So, women
do it. I mean, there are women in Congress who have had babies. It`s
My partner, my husband is -- you know, he`s very supportive and he`s
encouraging of the political work I`m doing now. To try to take chemicals
out of children`s products, but it is not an easy balance.
Chris, you know now, you know, 5-month-olds, they like to make you in
the middle of the night and they like to make you tired and they don`t like
it when you leave. So, you know, there are a lot of special challenges for
women who want to try to be in politics and have small children.
HAYES: I`m curious about how the conversation about supporting mom
and supporting women and mothers relates to some of the legislation you`ve
both been pursuing. And I want you to talk about that right after we take
a quick break.
HAYES: How does the conversation about women and mothers transfer
into political arguments about policy is what I`m curious to hear from you,
I want to give someone statistic that I feel that one of our
producers found that to me embodies the challenges that parents of both
genders face. This is child care. Child care costs more than double
public college tuition in New York -- more than double public college
And college tuition is not cheap. In 2010, the average annual cost
of public tuition in New York was $5,790. You see it`s almost double
there. Child care is more expensive than public tuition in 40 states.
Every mother who works outside the house has to find some way to make
up those hours. It`s a zero-sum gain. And I don`t feel we have a
particularly robust political conversation about that as a political issue.
C. PINGREE: Absolutely true. You were talking about earlier, some
of the budget cuts that we`ve been facing. And just to sort of enhance
this idea of the war on women going to be the war on mothers and families.
I mean, it`s not a choice for most families today, whether or not you work
outside the home and whether or not you bring in extra income, or for a lot
of single moms, that`s the income that you need.
And without the support systems, whether it`s child care allowance or
for some families, just basic, you know, food and shelter, people can`t
make it in the workplace any more. So, the idea that this would be
optional or that these are cuts we can make in a country that wants to be
pro-family or good on child development, it`s crazy.
H. PINGREE: Yes. We live in a state run by a Tea Party governor and
one of the cuts currently on the chopping block is significant cuts to the
Head Start program, which is obviously a program for three and 4-year-olds
to get a good start. But it`s part of sort of a child care network. So
we`re obviously having a big conversation about child care costs.
Child care costs are very acute. My husband and I are dealing with
the cost of hiring a babysitter and it`s significant, and we do make
decisions about how we`re going to balance things and how we`re going to
And it`s something that if you`re working a low-wage job, I honestly
don`t know how people do it. I mean, the cost of child care and daily
living expenses really are significant.
BEY: One of the problems that I personally have as an American with
the cuts to Head Start, is we see that these tend to be children who are of
lower income parents, when you put them in school and you teach them, they
do better academically later. Their parents tend to do better because they
can go and seek work, seek education.
It is a policy issue when you show up, when you have children showing
up to kindergarten who don`t know their letters, who aren`t read to, who
can`t write their name, and these are things that children and Head Start
learn. You save money later teaching the kids sooner and it`s better for
Why would you cut -- why would you cut Head Start?
ROIPHE: I think it`s important to say what you were saying before,
when we say, when Republicans say they`re pro-family, we`re pro certain
kinds of family. I think it`s important to get behind the rhetoric and
what does the language really mean, and just thinking about Orwell and his
work on politics.
The language we use to talk about these things really shapes our
thinking, it`s not just words, it causes people to think about things in
certain ways. And that language I just think needs to be interrogated,
because we`re not talking about pro family, we`re talking about pro some
kinds of families.
C. PINGREE: Let`s be clear, that`s a myth that there`s -- you know,
that there are these insular families today where people can just, you
know, get off the grid and stay home. The truth is, almost everybody has
to engage, almost everybody has to be working in the workforce today. And
it`s really impossible to do this.
And the other side is you were saying earlier. We know so much about
early childhood development, brain development -- the idea that we want to
be a great nation and we want to have a great workforce and a well-educated
workforce that we would take away that opportunity from young kids to get
the brain development.
Also for many kids, they need to be there to eat. They eat
breakfast, they eat lunch. This is an important part of their nutrition as
well. It`s just ludicrous to think we can cut that and have a real future
for our country.
HAYES: But it has enough political -- it has enough -- it`s
politically viable enough that they`re trying to do it. My question is:
why is that the case, right? I mean, is there a backlash in Maine for this
kind of a cut or do people see it as not affecting them? Is it a
convenient scapegoat to say, yes, those are exactly the kind of programs we
should be cutting right now?
H. PINGREE: Well, it`s interesting. I mean, right now, I`m hopeful
there will be a backlash -- that Head Start is a program that should not be
But in the next couple of weeks, the Maine state legislature,
controlled by Republicans, will be making that decision. I`m hopeful they
won`t, but the fear is that they will make that decision.
A couple of years ago when I was in the legislature, the then Senate
President Libby Mitchell (ph) proposed a program to fund breakfast, to make
state funding go to public school breakfast programs. She got an
unbelievable backlash that we should be having to pay for breakfast for
kids. This was from the public.
So, I mean I don`t know. I mean, I would hope that the public would
be outraged. I would hope that the public would realize that, you know,
kids -- taking care of kids between 0-5 is one of the most responsibilities
our nation and families and out communities should have. But, you know,
honestly, after seeing the breakfast backlash, I don`t -- I mean, some
people`s priorities, are obviously very difficult.
HAYES: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and daughter, Hannah Pingree,
the former speaker of the Maine House of Representatives -- thank you so
much for your time this morning. Happy Mother`s Day.
H. PINGREE: Thank you.
C. PINGREE: Thank you.
HAYES: This week`s controversial "Time" magazine cover on moms and
the author of "Bringing Up Bebe," coming up in the next hour.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With me this morning, I have playwright Eve Ensler, creator of "The
Vagina Monologues"; Michelle Goldberg, author of the "Means of
Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World" Jamila Bey from "The
Washington Post" blog, "She the People"; and Katie Roiphe, author of the
"Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism."
Later this hour, we`ll be joined by Pamela Druckerman, author of the
bestselling book, "Bringing Up Bebe," which is a great, great read will
In 2010, approximately 56 percent of mothers with children under the
age of 1, and 71 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 were
in the labor force. And yet, women still spend considerably more time
caring for children than their husbands or their male partners do.
The battle over the waking hours of today`s mom is a zero sum one.
There are only so many hours in a week and work and motherhood each make
their claims on them.
So, when did our expectations become unreasonable? A very buzzy
cover story in "Time" magazine this week crystallizes the question. A
cover which features a mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son asks, "Are you
Meanwhile, a controversial book by a French philosopher Elisabeth
Badinter called "The Conflict: How Motherhood Undermines the Status of
Women" argues against a view, as Badinter puts it, at the ideal mother is
enmesh with her child bodily and mentally. Her polemic has stoked fierce
debate over whether our cultural expectations of motherhood conflict with
the social and political gains won by second wave feminism.
And this is a central question right now. Socially, I think and I
should note that this conversation tends to happen in a social cohort that
is very upper middle class, that is very privileged and highly educated,
and a lot of these trade-off discussions and the culture of incredibly
intense, time-committed mothering and the sort of professionalization of
mothering in a weird way, you know, an entire literature that you read, and
as an activity that you bring the totality of your capacity as intellectual
into, that that is a conversation that`s happening in a specific cohort. I
don`t want to over-generalize this, because I think the conversations can
get blinkered to its own class indebtedness.
That said, it`s a real issue. It strikes me as one of the points of
contention about where feminism right now and where women`s equality is
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: A lot of times you`ll hear
people say you can`t criticize this culture of extreme attachment parenting
because women are choosing it. And so, to a certain extent, that`s true.
I wouldn`t criticize somebody for breastfeeding until three and a half or
whatever, although I might criticize them for doing it on the cover of
GOLDBERG: To me there`s a difference between saying that this is OK
and saying this is the expectation. And as for -- women aren`t choosing
this in a vacuum, right? There`s a whole kind of social context, and I
think this is not an uncommon thing. Whereas somebody comes -- you know,
where a movement that starts out as a movement for integration, in a way
you could say the same thing in the civil rights movement that`s basically
asking for kind of equality comes up against obstacles and after kind of
banging its head into a brick wall, instead settles for a strategy, a kind
of separatism and valorization of difference.
And so, you`ve got kind of a generation of women who came up against
the limits of integration -- you know, when you`ve kind of come up against
the glass ceiling at a certain point you start thinking, I can choose to
stay home. I can choose to do something -- I can value this other sphere
where there aren`t going to be the same obstacles. And then you`re kind of
going into the sphere with an entire professional orientation.
And so, of course, motherhood becomes professionalized.
JAMILA BEY, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Or you have a lot of women who are
educated and who have the means to stay home. And give all of their time
and attention to their child and make their own little super baby who will
get into the right schools, who will get into the right educational
pathway. So that child will go on and become a captain of industry with a
lot of while Mozart being played.
KATIE ROIPHE, AUTHOR, "MORNING AFTER": I feel like the question is -
- Elisabeth Badinter calls it (INAUDIBLE) the child as king culture, which
she`s criticizing. And I feel like the question is, do you want that
child? Like if that child that you`re making them learn mandarin when
you`re 2, and you`re monitoring every second of their free time to make
sure they only have beautiful wooden toys and organic food, do you want
that child? Is he going to be so unbearable when all these kids grow up?
GODLBERG: I also think there`s a question of whether you`re actually
creating the child that you think you`re creating --
ROIPHE: You can`t, right.
GOLDBERG: Because there`s a whole literature about why is there kind
of a generation of narcissists. I mean, my mom was a college math teacher
and so she retired. She kind of talked about how you know, in recent
years, right before she retired, she started getting phone calls from her
student`s parents, about their performance on tests, something that never
happened in her entire career.
You know, there`s a way in which you`re not raising a generation of
super children, you`re raising a generation of children who can`t take care
BEY: There`s a part of the so-called attachment parenting that
speaks to the issue of autonomy and doing what`s best for the child and
also against the violence that has happened in child rearing. One of the
reasons I think a lot of people --
HAYES: It`s a good point.
BEY: -- got involved in so-called attachment parenting.
HAYES: I call yourself that, right?
BEY: I loosely do. You know, I --
HAYES: You`re not posing me on the cover of "Time" magazine.
BEY: You will never hear me quote Dr. Laura, but this one time I
will. I`m my kid`s mom. And for me, what that means is we figure out what
is best for our family, we do what is nurturing to the child. But I also
realize that mommy is not going to be there all the time.
So, the idea that I`m going to hover a helicopter over him and, you
know, argue, why didn`t my kid get picked for the sun in the play, he
should not have been the wind. I`m not going to have those arguments.
But one of the things that I think Eve was mentioning during the
breaks is we need to nurture our children. We need to be gentle with them.
We don`t need to bring this rugged individualism to -- well, you know, cry
it out, baby, you got, mommy`s got partying to do or mommy`s got work to
BEY: You know, I`m not going to let you cry it out. That`s part of
why some parents are drawn to -- I will give my child what he needs so that
when he is able to be an autonomous human being, he makes good choices.
HAYES: But there are social consequences to that.
BEY: There are.
HAYES: I just want to throw out the stat and, Eve, I want to hear
from you, because I think this is important grounding empirically.
Time spent by mothers on child care, we don`t have series data for
this. It`s (INAUDIBLE) general survey. So, the most recent data we have
is from 2005. But it`s nearly doubled from 1975 to 2003. Time spent on
child care has nearly doubled from 1975 to 2003.
I think that`s remarkable.
EVE ENSLER, PLAYWRIGHT: Well, I think there`s a lot of reasons for
it. But one thing when I was reading about the attachment mothering idea.
Many people who get into attachment mothering are people who haven`t been
attached, who didn`t have parents who nurtured them and didn`t have parents
who loved them in a way --
HAYES: Or felt sufficiently loved.
ENSLER: There`s something to be said for rewriting the story --
ENSLER: -- and for living differently than you were loved, for
bonding, and I think that`s very profound. And I think there`s something
about going, I`m going to have a baby.
There`s also I think this idea of -- women are just -- I was thinking
this morning about how amazing women are.
HAYES: You, Eve Ensler, were thinking that? We`ve got a breaking
ENSLER: We do everything, you know? And we do it so intensely and
we do it with fervor and we do it with dedication. Of course women are
going to do child parenting amazingly and they`re going to devote
themselves to it.
And I think part of it is we have so much ambition that doesn`t get
focused. Do you know what I mean?
And if we are told that we have to be good mothers and be at home,
we`re going to do did 100 percent. And I think part of it is to say we can
do a little bit over here and do a little bit over there, so there`s
balance. But if we`re being relegated, if we`re being told we`re not a
good mother and we`re being judged if we`re not giving 100 percent, well,
then of course we`re going to do that.
HAYES: Can we talk about judgment and competition, because I think
those are the key underlying facts?
ROIPHE: That`s one of interesting piece, because it`s just what`s
strange is how oppressive these cultures can be toward other people and
create these expectations where you have to breastfeed or you have to do
certain things. And what`s strange like even the "Time" magazine cover,
"Are you mom enough?" which obviously is playing off that judgmentalism, is
this idea, it`s women being catty to other women, frankly. I don`t think
men care all that much about, you know, how long you breastfeed.
ROIPHE: We`re creating -- OK, this mother culture where you`re
judging other mothers and saying you`re not doing it right, I`m doing it
right. Is she doing it right?
I hear it all the time. She has weekend baby sitting. All of these
strange kind of judgments, who cares what goes on?
ENSLER: But who sets that up? I just want to say who sets that up?
I mean, when you come up with an idea like mommy wars, OK, like who
creates that term? Right? I mean I -- mommy war, first of all, we`re not
at war, we`re not killing each other. War is where you shoot each other
and you die, right?
So this construct that set up. It`s kind of elevated the cat fight.
That somebody has an idea of like you`re either a working mom or a stay-at-
ROIPHE: I`m just going to say that I agree with you, but I just want
to suggest those men you imagine setting up that cat fight wouldn`t be able
to set up the cat fight if the women weren`t willing to fight each other.
GOLDBERG: If you turn motherhood into the main arena that people are
seeking status in, you know, of course, we`re kind of status-seeking
animals. And obviously it`s going to be intensely competitive if that`s
where you`re getting your identity from.
HAYES: We`re particularly status-y animals I think in current
And, Jamila, you just made a point that I want to get to the idea of
raising a future captains of industry, because I think there`s a context of
the way inequality relates to this. I want to talk about after this break.
HAYES: This is the hippest mom pick for the music today.
Pamela Druckerman, we`re going to bring in a bit, has just a passing
sentence in "Bringing Up Bebe" that relates to something you just said
Jamila about the idea of raising a future captain of industry.
I just want to throw in my take on this, and this is because I`ve
been working on a book for 2 1/2 years about meritocracy and inequality,
that I do think part of this bizarre competitiveness is the sense that
there`s a scarcity towards which we are training our children. And the
scarcity is good jobs and success.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s correct.
HAYES: It`s correct. Right, because there`s going to be a small
group of life lottery winners or you know, captains of industry, the people
with the good jobs, up at the top in this very intense pyramid that we`ve
So, I think the subtext for a lot of this, the baby Einstein, the mom
lessons, you know, getting mandarin at 2 years old, the competition to get
in the best day care, is this fear that you`re going to make some choice as
a parent, as a mother particularly at age 18 months, at age 24 months, at 2
years, at 3 years, at 4 years, that`s going to divert them from a path of
attaining the very scarce resource.
BEY: It will be all your fault, mom, you did it. You ruined my
life. And they`re going to write a book about you and it`s going to turned
into a movie.
HAYES: I feel that maybe I`m wrong, a society that was more equal,
in which there was more expectations of middle class stability, that would
be less the case. I really do. I think you would feel this less frenetic
ROIPHE: Except read Riesman`s "The Lonely Crowd" which, you know,
again, like 1950s --
HAYES: High water mark.
ROIPHE: Yes. And, you know, affluent society. He`s kind of writing
about the same thing. In his talk about in all of his theories, he`s
really writing about the same pressure, the same outside pressure, the
international pressure and the same fear and anxiety of like malaise that
will befall children.
And so, I don`t know if it`s just our culture. Maybe it`s more
intense now for various economic reasons. But that`s always is that case
that that there`s this idea that your children going to fail or be
miserable or unhappy.
And the truth about this fantasy is that you can`t protect them,
whatever you do.
GOLDBERG: But he was also writing when there was kind of -- I mean,
I don`t think there`s an exodus now of women from the workforce. I think
that`s mommy -- that`s been overblown.
But he was also writing during at a time, right, when he was kind of
writing during a time of feminist backlash, where there had been a lot of
women who had careers, and that were kind of going back home and being told
to find their identity as professional mothers, to take their skills that
they once applied to their careers, now apply them to baking bread. And
then at the same time, women were attacked, I mean, not just by him, a
little bit later by Christopher Lasch and by -- who was it who wrote the
book about momism?
You know, there was the kind these simultaneous pressures, on the one
hand, make your child your career and you`re ruining them by your kind of
intense hovering attachment.
ROIPHE: Well, I don`t know -- I don`t really think there`s that many
-- it`s sort of a different stage, because it wasn`t like there with women
in the workforce treated in the same way what we`re talking about --
ROIPHE: Well, there was a World War II sort of -- but it wasn`t like
tons it was different -- it was sort of different than our current feminist
values, et cetera, et cetera, for obvious reasons. I don`t think he was
attacking women in that book, he`s writing about the family and the fears.
ROIPHE: So, I think he was in any way attacking women.
HAYES: You seem to think, Michelle, that there`s -- to put this in
the most provocative terms, to use the UP WITH CHRIS HAYES version of this
"Time" magazine cover, that there`s a conservative substrate, a fundamental
reactionary substrate to expectations of attachment parenting to the
project of Dr. Sears specifically?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think there`s a place in which the kind of radical
left and the radical right meet. It`s important to remember Dr. Sears
comes from a very conservative Catholic background. I think he becomes an
evangelical, converts back to Catholicism.
It`s important to remember that La Leche League, is Badinter --
GOLDBERG: I think it`s important to point out that La Leche League,
which we think of a crunchy, hippie earth mom movement --
HAYES: Yes, activism.
GOLDBERG: -- actually began as a right wing Catholic women`s
HAYES: I did not know that.
GOLDBERG: Similarly natural childbirth, when we watch "Mad Men" and
we see Betty Draper getting kind of put under and it seems very oppressive,
I think it`s important to remember, twilight sleep was initial kind of a
`20s feminist progressive reform against women who thought women had to
suffer through childbirth.
And so, you know, a lot of these things that there`s now a reaction
again kind of started out as feminist reforms and now are being -- so,
there`s been a convergence. You say the same thing even --
HAYES: It`s a convergence towards we should say like --
GOLDBERG: A convergence towards essentialism.
HAYES: Naturalness and essentialism, as the two conceptual
underpinnings. The idea -- we saw this in peer groups about expectations
of a natural childbirth.
And whether, again, choices that are individuals should make are the
choices they make and they should make those choices and be judge for them.
But there are sets of expectations that come about beginning with that,
then go to breastfeeding, again, particularly among certain cohort, I want
to be very specific of that.
ROIPHE: Yes, I think what Michelle is saying is so important the
reason that these ideas have so much power in kind of a progressive world,
in like circles and progressive circles, these really old-fashioned kind of
traditional archaic ideas have so much power because precisely they are
both of those things, they are liberal and natural and left wing and green.
But they also appeal to some fundamental, frightening, primal, conservative
ideal we have about what a parent is, what a mother is, what families are.
And it`s the convergence of the two that make it very hard to escape
for almost everybody.
ENSLER: I think guilt. I think there`s just this underlying guilt
in women all the time. That you`re not being natural, you`re not being
devoted enough, you`re not mom enough.
You know, I think -- I often wonder, we get so locked into these
polarized places, you know, stay at home mom, working mom, as opposed to
really having real discourse with each other and discuss -- where we can
actually talk about the feelings that exist. There`s no real space to have
HAYES: Jamila, you wrote a interesting piece about social
expectations among African-American peers and breastfeeding, and I want you
to talk about that right after a quick break.
HAYES: Jamila, you wrote a really good piece about the ways that
social expectations are formed. In terms of mothering and breastfeeding,
and formula particularly among peers who are African-American. I want you
to just --
BEY: Well, I went to a protest and wound up reporting from this
protest, bare-breasted with my own nursling. A woman had been thrown out
of art museum for nursing in a corner. So Washington, D.C. moms converged
on the Smithsonian Museum and I looked around and I interviewed a lot of
the African-American mothers who showed up during the three hours I was
And the stories were the same. Black women who have traditionally
provided domestic work, child-rearing of other children, wet-nursing of
other children, there was a time after the so-called civil rights movement
-- I say "so-called" a lot -- in which it was decided that formula is just
as good. You need not relegate yourself to that position. Our mothers did
that, our grandmothers did that, we don`t need to do that any more.
HAYES: Liberatory fundamentally.
BEY: Liberatory and economic and scientific advancement.
BEY: However, as we look at health outcomes and asthma, you know,
obesity, what-not and we understand that breastfeeding can have a
protective effect against that. Fully, the numbers have changed, the most
recent say that 61 percent of African-American children once they hit like
six months, are no longer breastfeeding at all.
BEY: Black women do not breastfeed, they don`t initiate at rates of
any other ethnic group. They don`t continue at rates of any other group
and a lot of that is cultural, a lot of women will tell you, well, these
are for my husband, or my -- whoever. A lot of women tell you, I don`t do
that, what if the baby gets hungry in public.
It`s just -- it`s really a cultural thing that says, you don`t have
to do it. It`s nasty, it`s probably going to be painful and it`s not that
good for your kids. And these things are just --
HAYES: I want to make the point that this is not in other, there are
other countries in which that is the dominant paradigm. In fact that`s the
elite high-status paradigm. In France, for instance.
In the U.S. we have a system now where there`s high correlation along
racial lines and income. Here`s a stat, that just higher income women are
more likely to breastfeed. Again, this gets at some of what these cultural
expectations are at the top and the dividing line, right, this sort of deep
class differences in what motherhood looks like.
ROIPHE: Some of the stuff is a luxury. It`s kind of a luxury to
breastfeed your baby after six months because you may have to go back to
work. You may not be able to --
GOLDBERG: How much of this has to do with accommodations that are
made for people at work?
HAYES: A whole lot.
BEY: That stat you just throw up, Chris, I couldn`t see the bottom
line. But I wonder if that`s initiation rates or at what point the kids
are breastfeeding. A lot of women, you know, we`re up in the 60 -- high 60
percent of all women, African-Americans included, who will initiate
breastfeeding in the hospital. But a lot of women will go home with the
free formula sample. If they don`t have a supportive person in the home --
HAYES: That`s the other thing.
BEY: -- who says, no, honey, I`m up with you, we`re going to do
HAYES: It`s super-hard. I mean, this is such a silly dumb, naive
thing to say, but I will say it, anyway, which is -- you know, you think
like, oh, breastfeeding, that`s the natural way. And we`ve been doing it
for 100,000 years, but it`s really hard and stressful.
BEY: Also, we don`t see it. We don`t see it.
HAYES: Right, that`s true.
I happen to have a family where babies got nursed. It was just what
I saw very young ingrained in me. Most of my own peers never saw their own
mother put a baby to the breast. And when you don`t see it, it`s not
normalized and it`s sexualized and it`s fetishized, and then you get that
cover we got that.
I want to bring in a journalist who has done a lot of great work
analyzing cultural expectations from mothers or what she calls martyr
mothering, Pamela Druckerman, author of the bestselling "Bringing Up Bebe:
One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting."
Pamela, one of the things that struck me about the book is, in some
way, as much a book about American parenting and the social expectations of
what American mothering look like, as it is about the French alternative.
PAMELA DRUCKERMAN, "BRINGING UP BEBE": Yes, I mean the French way is
in many ways interesting because it`s exactly a counterpoint to the
American model. You know, they`re even statistics that show French mothers
-- you mentioned that American mothers are spending more time with their
kids, it`s doubled. And over that time, the amount that we enjoy parenting
has gone down. We like it less the more we do it in this very intensive
And I think the same statistics show that French mothers like being
parents more than American mothers do. It`s partly because there isn`t
this expectation that we`re going to monitor, that they`re going to monitor
their kids so intensely, that they have to kind of cheer their kids on to
each next stage of development. They don`t breastfeed in France. The
lowest rate of breastfeeding in the Western world, pretty much, but they
have the highest birth rate. They have much better health outcomes than we
do at the same time.
I think French moms there`s a lot less dogma in France. There are no
mommy wars and more pragmatic. And, of course, you have the government
supporting moms in a way that American moms are not supported. So, it
creates a virtuous cycle.
HAYES: Yes, how much of what we have in the U.S. at this moment is a
product of a certain set of cultural expectations and how much of it is the
policy framework? I mean, you talk bur child in the Creche in France which
is the universal day care pre-k, which wounds pretty awesome --
DRUCKERMAN: Which I was terrified of. I was terrified of the French
public day care. I`m sending my kid to the post office.
But it turns that it`s wonderful. All the middle class moms are
competing to get a spot. It`s the preferred type of child care and of
course it makes everything much easier. It makes it easier to go back to
work if you know that your child is well taken care of. Whereas in America
there`s a lot of anxiety about day care for good reason, because it`s so
uneven, because there are different standards in different states.
So, I think, yes, it certainly helps that there are all of these
institutions supporting moms in France. But I think there`s just a
different relationship with guilt. You all were talking about guilt
And I feel like when I go back home, I feel like my American friends
and me, too, I do this, too, naturally. Kind of embrace guilt. We feel
that you know, we`re so conflicted about working, versus not spending
enough time with our kids, we feel if we feel guilty about all this, it`s
OK to take time for ourselves. It`s OK to go out to dinner with our
husbands or get out highlights retouch.
Whereas with French moms, they understand that there`s the temptation
to feel guilty. But they say guilt is dangerous. Guilt is a trap. I
don`t want to go there. It`s going to ruin my good time.
And they really -- I mean, I think one fundamental difference is, you
know, American parents right now are very outcome-focused.
DRUCKERMAN: We`ll do whatever it takes now, no matter how much it
destroys our weekend, to make sure that our kids are well-positioned in 20
years. Whereas, the French, of course, want their kids to be successful,
but they think about what is, what is my weekend going to be like. They`re
kind of looking for some kind of balance.
HAYES: More on balance after this.
HAYES: We`re talking about the cultural expectations in different
cultures. Eve, there was something you wanted to say about how we define
motherhood and specifically.
ENSLER: Well, as a step mother, I think -- you know, and as a person
who chose not to have biological children. I think sometimes we have a
very narrow definition of mothering. You know, I think there`s so many
nontraditional less restrictive ideas of mothering.
I just want to say something for adopting children -- having adopted
my son and actually adopted a few girls over the course of my travels in
the world -- that there`s a lot of people in the world who need nurturing
and support. Sometimes we all get hooked on the thing that is ours. You
know, this is my baby, this is my -- as opposed to this kind of larger
community idea, that there`s a lot of children that are actually ours.
ROIPHE: I feel like our idea of family and love is so narrow. So
unimaginative. Like what you`re talking about is love can come to a child
from a lot of different places, maybe Hillary Clinton in her "It Takes a
Village" did it in a cliche way. I mean, the point remains is family and
love is not necessarily blood, it`s just not about blood, it`s about
HAYES: Pamela, when you talk about being worried about sending your
child to the public day care. That`s a very interesting instinct because
it points to our expectations of the quality of care that a child will get
in the private setting as opposed to a public one. And are there different
expectations in France? I imagine there are, because of the fact it is
interwoven into familial life that there are these public amenities?
DRUCKERMAN: I think there`s a lot more trust of day care. I asked
people in day care what`s your parenting philosophy. They thought it was a
crazy question. Everyone agrees on the basics in France. There aren`t
these different warring philosophies where you worry if you leave your
child with someone, they`re going to feed them different vegetables than
you believe in, or I just have a whole different school of thought.
I mean, it`s amazing. When I got pregnant, I feel I had to study,
you know, I had to read all these books and decide which to follow. In
France, people read a couple of books, but you just kind of go with
whatever else does.
That`s the benefit of being in France, it calms the whole
conversation down. You don`t have to worry that you picked the wrong
philosophy. Or that you have to switch, that sort of thing. But I think
there`s confidence in these institutions in part because they`re extremely
In fact, they`re quite similar to the network of day care centers
that the U.S. military runs. Those are almost identical to the way the
French day care system is run.
HAYES: You said before and you say in the book, you talk about
middle-class moms, vying for these slots. This conversation that happens
in the U.S., mommy war stuff tends to be very specific in its class
orientation. I mean, there are millions of moms that are not in a position
to be reading 50 different books on mothering if they have a job that pays
$10 an hour and they have two kids and don`t have day care.
Is there more continuity in a society in which there`s public
provisions, or do those public provisions end up being utilized most by
people with capital and resources and social capital and status and
DRUCKERMAN: It`s true. You can kind of lobby to get a spot in the
public day care. But they reserve spots for people of different income
levels. So it`s not that only the privileged get their kids into the
public sector programs.
To the contrary, there`s much more of a safety net. There`s free,
there are free clinics, which I`ve used often, that you can bring your kids
to from age zero to six. You don`t have to pay for childbirth, you can
stay in the hospital for six days, which a lot of people do.
So, if anything, I think it`s more equalizing. I mean, there are
certainly important class differences, in France, in other places, in terms
of child care choices people make, there are, you go on the internet and
the city of Paris has a list of subsidized child care options that are
really appealing. Anyone can access them. You have to have a computer.
But you can go to an office in the neighborhood, too.
GOLDBERG: Hey, Pamela, this is Michelle Goldberg. I`m curious about
how these policies were enacted in the first place. I mean, how much of it
was out of a commitment to either kind of feminism or social justice or
Social Security? How much of it is because France has a history of real
concern about demographic decline and there`s literature about, the kind of
the relationship between day care and public service for mothers and the
amount of children that they`re well to have?
DRUCKERMAN: I think France definitely had a pro-natalist policy to
convince women to start having more kids, and it worked because France has
the highest birth rate in Western Europe. But they got this policy to
work, unlike other countries like Japan, where nobody listened to what the
government telling them to have more kids, because they had the
institutions to support women.
And I think it`s not just the institutions. It`s a fact that once
you have a kid, there`s not the social pressure to breastfeed for a long
period, to -- you know, in certain sectors to have non-disposable diapers
and make your own baby food. I mean, all of that is considered, as
Elisabeth Badinter points out, burdensome for women and epidurals are
extremely common. I mean, there`s almost no debate in France about whether
or not you`re going to have an epidural when you give birth. You just do.
And all of these things, whether you like them or not, they kind of
take some of the pressure off and make it easier to have a brood of kids.
But I think there are long historical reasons why France has public day
care. It started after the war.
But we have some of the same history that America has. But in
America, we`ve always had you know, it`s not just attachment parenting
that`s made us doubt whether our kids are going to be damaged because we`re
away from them. It`s been years and years and years that we`ve had
ambivalence whether about whether we should have public day care. It was
considered under the Nixon administration. In the end, it was considered
too communistic and communalist.
So, this is something we`ve been grappling with as a country for many
years. But now, we have all of these women in the workforce. So, what do
we do? We have pressure to work, at the same time, we don`t have good
options for child care for the first five years.
HAYES: I want to talk about transforming the mommy wars to the day
care wars where they belong, or the daddy wars, what are fathers doing in
this picture, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a different world
than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to be able to
have mom and home and dad at work. Now mom and dad both have to work,
whether they want to or not and they usually have to have two jobs. And if
that`s the case, we`re going to have good child cares in the community.
Some years ago, an idea was brought to me to start a child care
center not off where people live, but where they work. So, when the kid
got sick during the middle of the day, mom or dad can take care of the
child. And that is something which we helped create, a company called
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mitt Romney, 1994 talking about a big private equity success
which was helping early funding for Bright Horizons, a popular and
successful day care business.
Part of the reason I think that the conversation, there`s a bunch of
reasons conversation about conflict and motherhood gets overly limited.
One of the reasons it gets very narrowly class focused. The other thing is
that there`s two elements that don`t get talked about when you talk about
the competition for time and zero sum, is one our one is day care and the
other are fathers when they are in the picture.
I thought this was interesting. This is the number of hours fathers
spend doing house work. And what you see is basically there`s some
significant gains between 1965 and 1985 and it just flat lines.
And part of the reason that these tradeoffs have to happen is because
fathers have not really stepped up in the same way. They are spending more
time with their kids, definitely, as you mentioned before, Jamila.
Pam, I wonder if you can give us a comparative perspective on the
role of fathers in all this in France.
DRUCKERMAN: French fathers, you`ll be even happy to know, do even
less than American fathers do. They do child care and they do less
cleaning up around the house.
But interestingly French mothers, in my perspective, my view are less
upset about this than American women are. I find that American women are -
- when you get us together in a group, after the first couple of drinks,
we`re going to be complaining about our husbands for sure. What they don`t
do, there`s a lot of pent-up rage oftentimes.
And in France, I just don`t find that. I think, you know, for better
or worse, there isn`t this dream of 50/50 equality in France. French
mothers think their -- French women think their husbands are kind of
adorably incompetent in a lot of realms, they don`t think they`ll be able
to sort of make doctor`s appointments and buy dish towels and that sort of
thing and they don`t and everyone is fine with that.
You know, there isn`t this battle of sexes and this animosity. So, I
think that makes things work better even if it`s not as fair.
ROIPHE: I think agreeing with you, it`s just -- there`s something
kind of humiliating about bringing this level of the conversation down to
the mundane discourse, who is cleaning up the Lego.
On a fundamental level, I think about Pamela Lego -- what would
Simone de Beauvoir say if (INAUDIBLE) are important feminists having this
great arguments about like doing the bed everyday.
This has to be more important things. I just feel like he amount of
energy spent on this one question seems a little overblown to me.
GOLDBERG: But can I say -- I mean, on the one hand, I don`t argue
much about those because I`ve cultivated the adorable incompetence in my
HAYES: You were the first there, yes.
GOLDBERG: But I also think that -- I mean, the fact is that until
kind of although -- yes, it`s demeaning I would shoot myself in the head
before I had a chore wheel. But at the same time the fact that we have
these kind of persistent inequalities is never, ever going to change.
And the way in which these kind of choices become inevitable in which
it`s just easier for one person to stay home. Since they`re home it`s
easier for them to do the housework. And then you don`t have women in
politics. I mean, unless you kind of address these very banal things,
you`re not going to make these big, macro changes.
HAYES: I want to thank Pamela Druckerman, author of "Bringing Up
Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting," for
being with us on this Mother`s Day.
DRUCKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: What we should know for the news week ahead, coming up next.
HAYES: So, what you should know for the week coming up?
A viewer Jeremy Cox (ph) think you should to know that according to
new data from the Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child to
age 17 has spiked 25 percent in the last 10 years, adjusted for inflation.
You should know that chief drivers of those costs are groceries and medical
care. You should know that doesn`t even include the cost of college, which
as we discussed here on the program is rising at rates far above inflation.
You should know that if our society cared about moms, kids and family
as much as it says it does, it would give mothers and children what they
need to flourish, including medical care and daycare.
You should know that while pregnant women are protected from
unemployment discrimination, employers are not required to make workplace
accommodations for pregnant women, something that sometimes necessary for a
pregnant woman to stay at her job.
You should know two UP regulars, Representatives Jerrold Nadler and
Carolyn Maloney will introduce legislation on Tuesday, the Pregnant Workers
Fairness Act to rectify this.
If you`re celebrating Mother`s Day, you should know the Save the
Children report on the state of motherhood, the U.S. has the least
favorable environment for breastfeeding in the entire industrialized world.
You should know that Save the Children calculated a score for 36
industrialized countries, based on maternity leave laws, rights to nursing
breaks at work and other policy features, and found that Norway came in
first, and the U.S. came in last.
You should know that the Affordable Care Act requires workplaces with
more than 50 workers to create rooms where women can pump or breastfeed.
But there`s a whole lot more needs to be done.
And, finally, you should know that before Mother`s Day was an
occasion for Hallmark cards and flowers and brunch, not that there`s
anything wrong with brunch, it was founded as a radical call for peace.
You should know that in 1870, a feminist abolitionist and poet Julia
Ward Howe inaugurated the first Mother`s Day with the following
proclamation. "Arise then women of this day. Arise all women who have
hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears. Say firmly, we
will not have great questions cited by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands
shall not come to us reeking with carnage for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken to unlearn all we taught them of charity,
mercy, patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of
another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own.
It stays disarm, disarm. The sword of murder is not the balance of
justice. Blood does not wipe out, dishonor, nor violence indicate
As men have often forsaken the plow and anvil at the summons of war,
let women now leave all that maybe left of home for a great and earnest day
of counsel. Let them meet first as women to bewail and commemorate the
dead, let them solemnly take council as to the means whereby the great
human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred
impress, not of Caesar, but of God."
I want to find out what my guests think we should know for the week
Julia Ward Howe is a tough act to follow. But if anyone can do it,
it`s you, Eve Ensler. What should people know?
ENSLER: I love that proclamation. I would like to say, first of
all, that I honor mothers, I honor being mothered, and I honor the way
mothers continue to mother without recognition and without value, and I
hope that`s transformed.
What I would like to put out is, in honor of Julia Ward Howe, we are
doing an event in D-Day, at February 2013 called One Billion Rising,
inviting the 1 billion women on the planet who will be raped or beaten in
their lifetime, that`s a U.N. statistic, to walk out of jobs, walk out of
their schools, walk out of their houses and join with the men who love them
and with the women who love them and dance.
It`s going to be a global dance action. You can come to VDay.org and
sign up. Get your posse. And for women on Women`s Day, please go and get
15 women and come dance.
HAYES: As Emma Goldman famously said, if I cannot dance, I don`t
want to be part of the revolution.
Michelle Goldberg, what should people know?
GOLDBERG: So, I recently did a story about Melinda Gates who is now
kind of putting the force of her charity behind family planning and making
that her number one priority. One of her numbers is that 100,000 women die
each year after pregnancies that they did not want. And so, you should
know this week the House voted to drastically cut aid for family planning,
$100 million as well as defunding UNFPA, and re-imposing the global
HAYES: Jamila Bey, what should folks know?
BEY: This week, for the first time in history, NATO is meeting in
the U.S. and not in Washington, D.C. They`ll be in Chicago. There will be
a lot of talk of peace, particularly looking at Afghanistan.
HAYES: Katie Roiphe, what should folks know?
ROIPHE: I just want to recommend a book.
HAYES: Yes, please.
ROIPHE: It`s called "Are You My Mother?" by Alison Bechdel. It`s a
brilliant graphic memoir that is both about fiercely judging your mother,
understanding your mother, and also respecting what she gave you.
HAYES: Alison Bechdel.
ROIPHE: Alison Bechdel, "Are You My Mother?"
HAYES: "Are You My Mother?"
I want to thank my guests today, Eve Ensler, author of "I`m an
Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World"; Michelle
Goldberg, author of "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and Future of
the World"; Jamila Bey from "The Washington Post" blog "She the People";
and Katie Roiphe, author of "The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism" -
thank you all.
And thank you for joining us. We will be back next weekend, Saturday
and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time. Our guests will include MSNBC policy
analyst Ezra Klein.
You can get more info about tomorrow`s show on Facebook @UpwithChris,
and sign up for my web chat this Wednesday at noon Eastern. You can also
go to twilight of the elites on Facebook for list of my appearances, around
the country, discussing my upcoming book, "Twilight of the Elites."
Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry.
Melissa, happy Mother`s Day. What have you got today?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. You know, I can`t hear
that question, are you my mother without thinking? You`re not my mother,
you`re a scary snort!
HARRIS-PERRY: But this Mother`s Day, we`re going to take an in-depth
look at President Obama`s momma and Mitt Romney`s mommy, and ask what their
upbringing can tell us about their governing.
Also, we`ll look at the sad and growing crisis of moms in prison and
the broken families that they leave behind and what happens to the children
of moms in prison. And we`re going to continue to talk same sex marriage
because Mitt Romney, even though he said he didn`t want to talk about t he
talked about it, he talked about it.
HAYES: That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next.
We`ll see you next week here on UP.
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