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Why “The Motherhood Challenge” is Unfair to Mothers

First there was The Ice Bucket Challenge, then The Make-Up Free Challenge, The Couch to 5k, The Dry January. Social media trends have consistently clogged social media feeds with incessant “awareness” campaigns. While some have been used for good, such as promoting knowledge of terminal illnesses and human rights, others like the stomach-churning “Motherhood Challenge” have left contemporary feminists swooning.

Once again confined to the domestic sphere, the “challenge” of Motherhood has bespattered our Facebook news feed with an insipid reminder of the pervasive, patriarchal trials that truly challenge women today.  

Following the lines of, “I was nominated to post five pictures that make me proud to be a mother,” the social media trend involves other women tagging mothers who they feel to have achieved in the realm of motherhood. While on the surface this seems to corroborate proud parenting and affirm the importance of motherhood as an indisputably legitimate occupation, the notion of “challenge” engenders the sense that motherhood is a feat of prodigious fortitude, a task achievable only by a pre-selected few.  

(Photo Credit: www.inquisitr.com)

While most participate within the social media trend with positive intentions, it is unclear whether the concept of the challenge is to publicise successful mothering or challenge your friends to be as an effective parent as you. The claim that motherhood is a saintly, vocational calling to the elete is grounded in archaic patriarchal theory that women are “angels of the home,” fulfilling their God-given purpose of remaining chastised to domestic responsibilities.

Despite other social media campaigns including “Free the Nipple” and Change.org’s petition to “Stop Taxing Periods. Period.,” it is trends like “The Motherhood Challenge” which hyper-romanticise the supposedly angelic, rewarding yet ever-so self-sacrificing “Mummy Club.”

With streams of bloggers releasing pictures of their doe-eyed little darlings, it seems that the agonising, depressing and somewhat self-effacing aspects of motherhood have slipped from public consciousness. Although mothers are of course entitled to a large degree of parental pride, Facebook’s “Motherhood Challenge” impregnates other women who can’t participate or don’t want to participate in parenting with a sense of inadequacy and personal failure. 

(Photo Credit: www.mommyish.com)

The members-only elitist club of motherhood leaves the childless, infertile and anxious mothers with the self-deprecating feeling that they weren’t invited to a seemingly all-including party. Tagging only some of the mothers you know as “great” or deserving of a parental trophy is exclusive, distasteful and ironic, especially given the fact that no one can ever win this “challenge.”

Motherhood, like womanhood, is not a challenge to win and does not require a child as a trophy to display. A measure of a mother’s success is non-existent. While this challenge may appear to be a bit of “mother-hen fun,” it pushes other women out the nest.

In the modern-day world of political awareness and social activism, it is simply unacceptable. 

Zoe Thompson

Bristol '18

President of Her Campus Bristol.
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