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My local newspaper, “The Orlando Sentinel,” published an article about how “time-stressed moms get new options for quick lunches.” The article seemed to blame busy moms for supplying their children with unhealthy meal options. The article was on the front page of the Sunday paper and got me worked up that morning. Why blame the moms?
I took the time to write a letter to the Editor, but it has yet to be published. I must assume, that at nearly two weeks old, it will not run. I realize they have limited space to print letters, but I had hoped they would have recognized their oversight with this article and would have run my letter. Since they have not, I am posting it below.
Interestingly, there are several headlines that seem to be associated with this article:
- In print: “Will healthy box lunches tempt kids?”
- Online: “Prepackaged kids’ lunches get healthier”
- In the title bar of the Internet browser: “Time-stressed moms get new options for quick lunches”
Read the full article here.
Sundayâ€™s front page story,â€ Will healthy box lunches tempt kids,â€ seemed like a positive read for families who want to feed their children healthy meals. What was most likely well intentioned, quickly became biased toward women by blaming â€œbusy working moms.â€ The positioning of this article was incredibly disappointing.
The author, Sandra Pedicini, writes, â€œnow, time-stressed moms … are getting other options.â€ What about time-stressed parents? By ignoring spouses in this story, it leaves the impression that mothers are supposed to do it all — including taking the blame for their familiesâ€™ meal choices.
This negative focus on mothers keeps working women from getting, or even feeling like they can ask for, additional help. Their career successes are mitigated by this constant reminder of a consequence of working motherhood and somehow lets fathers off the hook. It just perpetuates the stereotype that the mother is responsible for everything.
In section G of the same paper, Gregory Karp wrote an article about couponing and menu planning. He could have geared the article toward mothers, but he used different words: families, Americans, people. This made the difference.
Even the President get this concept. Earlier this year, during the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility summit, President Barack Obama said, â€œWorkplace flexibility isnâ€™t just a womenâ€™s issue. Itâ€™s an issue that affects the well-being of our families …â€ He recognizes that people tend to assume that workplace flexibility is needed for mothers, but says itâ€™s needed by â€œfamilies.â€ In that same spirit, we need to focus articles like the one in Sundayâ€™s paper toward families, not just the busy working mom.
– Alicia Lewis Murray, Orlando
What do you think?
(Disclosure: Several years ago, I worked at The Orlando Sentinel.)