Something caught my eye last night as I was waiting for the subway. Thankfully it wasn’t a giant rat – or at least I wouldn’t call her that, though some people might refer to Kate Gosselin that way. Her beachy, blond photo on the cover of People magazine was hard to ignore as I walked past the newsstand, but I decided against buying a copy, because I can’t stand to watch the tabloids promote Kate even as they tear her down.
In response to Kate’s cover photo, “Mom of 4 Bonnie Fuller” asked, “Is Kate Putting Self Promotion Ahead Of Parenting On Her Priority List?” I don’t know, “Mom of 4 Bonnie Fuller.” Is Kate putting self-promotion ahead of parenting, or is self-promotion just a part of having a job in media, “Mom of 4 Bonnie Fuller?” Where are your kids while you write your columns on your website with your name all over it?
We all know Kate Gosselin is the Mommy the media loves to hate. Kate appeared on the cover of Life & Style this Spring, with the phrase “OUT OF CONTROL MONSTER!” splayed across her chest. In an article about Kate’s new book, the rag accused her of exploiting her children for cash, which may seem inarguable, given that she’s chosen to raise her kids on-camera. But the piece went on to criticize her for appearing on Dancing With The Stars, which had her flying “3,000 miles from their Pennsylvania hometown once a week so she can compete on the show,” adding, “The kids, meanwhile, are left behind – in tears.” Really? How do we know Kate’s kids are left in tears while their Mom is on TV or a book tour or off getting botox and breast implants in Mexico with her bodyguard? When Kate is traveling, her kids are spending time with their Dad, picnicking with his 23-year-old girlfriend. If they’re crying, maybe he should do something about it?
Kate is constantly accused of exploiting her children and being a self-promoter, and while I’m not saying there isn’t truth to both of those statements, I have trouble understanding how Kate is the “bad guy” when she’s the parent hustling to feed her family after her husband cheated on her. No doubt she’s said some inappropriate things out of anger towards him, but why is it that Jon’s cheating scandal seems to have completely disappeared from the annals of pop-culture memory? More importantly, why is it that Jon has been referred to by the media as a babysitter to his own children? It seems to me that the villification of Kate Gosselin is an indirect attack on working mothers everywhere.
Jon Gosselin isn’t the only Hollywood Dad who’s been accused of being forced to babysit his own children. Brad Pitt has been called Angelina Jolie’s nanny. An article screaming, “ANGIE TURNS BRAD INTO THE BABYSITTER,” also appeared in the aforementioned issue of Life & Style. It reads, “Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in the world, but these days he’s acting more like a nanny than a Hollywood power player. While partner Angelina Jolie shoots her latest film, The Tourist, with Johnny Depp in Venice, Italy, Brad – scruffy, sloppily dressed and looking harried – has been spotted carting his six young children around the city as if he were Angie’s hired help.” I’m sorry, what? You mean as if he were Angie’s partner, right? No one would say such a thing about a woman. “Wow, Jennifer Garner is really starting to look like Ben Affleck’s nanny. She just devotes too much time to her kids.” Insanity.
Time and time again, the media – including most parenting magazines – reinforces the idea that being sloppily dressed and looking harried is a badge of honor women wear when they become mothers. But to see a man suffering the same slings and arrows of parenthood is a shock. Sure, the new model of the Hollywood Mom makes motherhood look glamorous, as if the average woman should be able to balance a demanding career with hands-on parenting without ever smudging her stylist-applied eye-liner. We all know that’s not a realistic image for everyday people to be comparing themselves to, and I’ve rallied against women feeling the need to keep up with the Angie’s – and now Kate’s – of the world. But scrutinizing a woman’s intentions as a parent because she appears on the cover of a magazine when that’s her job is ridiculous and something a working Dad would never be subject to. We’ll know we’ve achieved some kind of gender equality when fathers are no longer accused of “babysitting” their own children while Monster Moms are deemed pigs for bringing home the bacon.