Thursday, November 19, 2009

Talking about Moms

This week's random writing is brought to us by a friend of mine in form of a letter to their administration. It does a great job of illustrating some of the difficulties our local MOMS Club has been having. She succinctly and eloquently explains issues as overall concepts and failures to meet ideals -- and had no better luck in her reply than I had over the last few years with the personal and direct examples of individual issues I've offered up. Read and be amazed at the beauty of her words.

Dear [coordinator],

Thank you for contacting me in regards to the open board position of Presidency for the North Chapter of MOMS Club. Unfortunately, I am not able to take this position. Effective immediately, I am resigning from my position as Vice President.

I can no longer be part of an organization that is bent on the systematic oppression of women. I joined MOMS Club because the empty propaganda on your website suggested it was a place for mothers to support each other. What I soon learned during my tenure as a MOMS Club board member is that the club is in fact interested in enforcing a set of rules that no rational woman can follow and still respect her own human rights and civil liberties.

Furthermore, by refusing to allow the North chapter of MOMS Club to support the South Chapter as it has struggled to find autonomy over the past few years, MOMS Club international has stifled and killed two chapters. Seeing that MOMS Club international was more dedicated to their handbooks and legalese than to actual women in need of support has made continuing to be part of the organization impossible to me. International’s rules outweighed our needs and concerns as a club, an unfortunate reality that the North and South Chapters have realized in recent weeks.

Most importantly, as someone who has dedicated my life to education, I am no longer able to pretend that MOMS Club’s regulations are not oppressive to my sex. Rules that discourage scheduling events in the evening due to “safety” imply that women are too weak to take care of themselves. The bylaws governing the frequency of Moms Night Out by suggesting that women refrain from being absent from their families more than one night per month invalidate the personal sacrifices moms make to be at stay-at-home mom and suggest that being a stay-at-home mom is nothing more than a gender role women are obligated to fulfill.

Other rules, like forbidding Mom’s Night Out to be held at a location that serves alcohol are a clear infringement of personal liberty. Why was it a surprise that MOMS Club International does not value the sanctity of an individual’s freedom of choice when motherhood, to MOMS Club, has been reduced to an obligation a woman fulfills rather than the remarkable choice of a freethinking woman?

Furthermore, the way in which MOMS Club International monitors every communication and minutiae of every detail of the club’s life is more Orwellian that what can be expected of a group of volunteers to tolerate. It is painfully apparent that MOMS Club International does not publish its rules and guidelines in a readily available place (such as the International website) to conceal the stigma that the club’s policies would create if they were public knowledge. Hiding the rules is necessary to attract new members. Certainly, if I had known the language and implications of International’s rules and attitudes toward women, I would not have joined the club. The rules that new members are shown are not indicative to International’s true attitude toward women.

My hope is that MOMS Club International considers my resignation as a signal for the change that is needed to get this organization back to a place of offering real support to women. Follow the goals that are outlined on International’s website and become a club that really does offer women support – and not oppression guised as safety. Honor the sanctity of the individual and respect a mother’s choice to be a stay-at-home parent as just that – a choice and not an obligation.

The maniacal adherence to the rules has led to the dissolution of two chapters of MOMS Club in Gainesville. How many other chapters have to fail before the necessary changes will be embraced by International? For the sake of women in need of support across our country, I hope Gainesville is the catalyst to the overdue changes that must happen.

Consider my resignation effective immediately.

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