The New York Post wants us to know that “Bad Mom” Facebook groups are a phenomenon that exist in the world. These are “no filter” zones where “the conversations sound more like locker-room talk than school drop-off chatter” and women “share a lot more than meat-loaf recipes or the latest Dr. Phil parenting tips,” the Post reports breathlessly, having done a brief Google search for “things moms do.” The headline: “‘Bad Moms’ let loose in raunchy Facebook groups.”
Gird yourselves—GIRD YOURSELVES—from a sampling of the RAUNCHY quotes that the Post pulled from two different Bad Mom Facebook groups:
- “My husband and I just played life without children this morning... it was so quiet and full of sex.”
- “My husband LOVES my boobs and before having the baby he would play with them during sex. BUT I’m breastfeeding still and I think it’s super weird if he plays with them or licks them. Am I just over thinking it?”
- “Just got my husband to spend $100 on cheese, cured meats and olives for sex.”
- “I just walked into my 14 yr olds room, farted and shut the door behind me. Now I hear him yelling and searching for the Febreze.”
- “Just spent $275 at CVS buying holiday cards. We get text alerts when our debit cards are used. My husband texts me ‘please tell me you just spent $275 on condoms.”
Can you even believe these no-filter, locker-room-talking moms who have sex and fart? It appears that being a “bad mom” means being a human being. You might notice that fathers don’t gather in large numbers in Bad Dad groups to confess the basic fact of their humanity, and they don’t then have tabloids report on the scintillating details of said humanity. That’s because dads are not expected, and do not feel the same degree of pressure, to be superhuman givers of childcare.
This is why all of us, we mom people, lose out with this Bad Mom bullshit. It reactively buys into the idea of Good Moms by performing a supposed counterpoint that is really just basic humanity. The Bad Mom vs. Good Mom narrative also reinforces those many supposed dividing lines in motherhood, whether it’s around breastfeeding or daycare or literally any other aspect of childcare.
Any woman who is performing Bad Mom-ness is feeling subject to the same social and cultural tyrannies around motherhood as any woman who might be considered a Good Mom stereotype. The latter are visibly trying to meet outside demands (while no doubt failing impossible-to-meet standards), and the former are trying to cast off those oppressive standards (and feel the need to defensively announce their stance on the matter). These are just different models of reacting to the same problem.
But the media, and Hollywood, loves to trot out the Bad Mom vs. Good Mom schtick. As the Post explains, these Bad Moms groups are “inspired by the 2016 Mila Kunis comedy ‘Bad Moms,’ in which a group of fed-up mothers form a hard-partying clique to escape side-eye from pretentious, type-A stroller-pushers.” (It must be noted: that film was written by two men.) The Post can’t even resist highlighting that one of these Bad Mom Facebook groups was formed in reaction to purported mommy warring. “[Tara] Johnson founded her Long Island group with co-worker Jesse Curatolo, 29, because they were sick of bullying in other mommy groups.”
It is perfectly understandable that a mom would want to join a Bad Mom Facebook group as a means of finding support in the apparently surprising fact of her basic humanity. In fact, I will confess to bursting into tears while watching the Bad Mom trailer a few months postpartum because, in that altered emotional state, it seemed to be offering just that kind of understanding (albeit in a craven filtered-through-capitalism sort of way). But, looking back at it now, I just see the most cliche fantasy of a mommy “catfight.” In the trailer, Kunis’ character actually says: “We have to bring down the perfect moms.” As though “perfect moms” are the enemy of “bad moms,” and not that we’re all mired in the same freaking muck.
The Bad Mom moniker embodies the allure of reclamation and preempting of critique, but it does absolutely nothing to free any of us from the polarizing either-or.