News Release

Mommy Wars or Moms Against War: Bread and Butter and the Radical History of Mother’s Day

ELLEN BRAVO, bravo at
Bravo is director of Family Values @ Work Consortium, a network of state coalitions working for paid sick days and paid family leave. She just wrote the piece “The Gifts Mothers Really Want,” which states: “My favorite Mother’s day gifts from my sons were their original stories, songs and poems. But what I needed when they were infants and toddlers was something children can’t deliver: affordable time off when they were born and when they were sick.

“So for all those candidates and elected officials interested in the women’s vote and eager to prove their support for motherhood and families, here’s a sampling of what mothers want and need, not just one day a year but every day:

“The right to care for a sick child or personal illness without losing our paychecks or our jobs. Moms need leaders to actively support the right for workers to earn paid sick days and champion local, state and federal policies that would guarantee this protection. Make sure no one has to choose between being a good parent and being a good employee — and that no one has to serve you flu with your soup. …”

TERRY O’NEILL, via Latoya Veal, press at
O’Neill is president of the National Organization for Women Foundation. The group today released the report “Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling: A Proposal to Modernize Women’s Benefits” with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She said today: “If implemented, the recommendations we make in ‘Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling’ will go a long way toward creating a retirement and disability insurance program that recognizes the new reality of working women and men, and values women’s role in society as both breadwinners and primary caregivers. Crediting women’s years out of the paid labor force is a long overdue feature that NOW strongly supports and urges lawmakers to support as well.”

LAURA KACERE, laura.kacere at
Kacere is a feminist activist working with Occupy D.C. who recently wrote the piece “The Radical History of Mother’s Day,” which states: “There’s a good number of us who question holidays like Mother’s Day in which you spend more time feeding money into a system that exploits our love for our mothers than actually celebrating them. It’s not unlike any other holiday in America in that its complete commercialization has stripped away so much of its genuine meaning, as well its history. Mother’s Day is unique in its completely radical and feminist history, as much as it has been forgotten.

“Mother’s Day began in America in 1870 when Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. Written in response to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, her proclamation called on women to use their position as mothers to influence society in fighting for an end to all wars. She called for women to stand up against the unjust violence of war through their roles as wife and mother, to protest the futility of their sons killing other mothers’ sons.”

Howe wrote:

“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

“Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’

“From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: ‘Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.’ Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

“In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed …to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”