From Grist, a thought-provoking essay on how environmentalism may be overlooking a seeming natural constituency group: mothers. Writer Angela Park observes:
If mothers in the wild will do anything to protect their young, imagine the political power of mothers across the land driven by the obsession to protect their children, to create the best possible communities and opportunities for them. Since women hold an overwhelming percentage of household purchasing power, what kind of economic forces would be unleashed through their enthusiastic support for sustainable and child-labor-free products? How might a more holistic, mom-friendly definition of “environment” — one akin to the environmental-justice movement’s understanding of it as the places where we live, work, play, learn, and worship — contribute to the framing of these issues?
Soccer moms may be a desirable demographic, but enviro moms could be a constituency with a mission and a message: Create a better world for my children and our communities, fast, or I’ll kick your (political) butt.
If, as Park claims later in the essay, that the environmental and sustainability movements are failing to connect with mothers, I wonder if that’s because so many leaders of the big groups devoted to these issues are men. Michael Dorsey raised a similar issue with the notion of race; I wonder if we would engage moms better if we had a few in the leadership. We do tend to rely on “masculine” language and metaphors: “doing battle” with corporate polluters and their political lackeys, for instance. If we’re going to try to reach out to moms more effectively, we better let moms craft those messages — can you imagine how badly we guys would butcher that task? Perhaps I’m essentializing here (and feel free to say so), but we need more diversity at the top if only to diversify the message to bring in a broader array of participants.
An early happy Mother’s Day to all of our mom readers — I know a few of you, but would love to hear more from the rest.
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