Working Mothers – knocked down by a bus

by Claire Hamilton

As if working mothers don’t carry enough guilt with them as they set off for the office every day – imagine how the good hardworking mums of London felt when they saw this poster emblazoned on the side of the capital’s famous red buses – ‘CAREER WOMEN MAKE BAD MOTHERS’ …

Apparently it was designed to promote the effectiveness of billboard advertising. Hmmmm. I bet the ad exec who thought that one up didn’t have two little kids at home and a whole lotta bills to pay (plus ambitions to fulfill, but we’ll get to that later!)

Thankfully, The Outdoor Advertising Association in England has ordered the withdrawal of the controversial billboard ad following an outcry from working mothers. One of more than 450 contributors to the Mumsnet forum said  “The (ad) on the side of a building today felt like a kick in the stomach. So being a decent role model and crying blood, sweat and tears for my girl is bad? I don’t know what else I can do.”

Another added: “Somebody needs a ladder and an aerosol can to sort this out. Or a lot of someones, a lot of ladders and a lot of aerosol cans. I just can’t imagine what it must be like to be a woman working in companies that are doing stuff like this.”

Justine Roberts, co-founder and managing director of Mumsnet, said: “Mumsnetters thought the campaign to be ill-conceived, crass and stupid and the reaction on Mumsnet was a mixture of annoyance, contempt and despair in fairly equal measure.”

Well done them. But I hate to imagine the creative meeting where this campaign was dreamed up. Then someone actually approved it. The use of the word ‘career’ instead of ‘working’ also sticks in the throat. So working to support a family is okay, but pursuing something you love and are good at makes you a bad parent? There are enough amazing, super clever mothers out there who already question whether they are making the right choices,  without it having to be writ REALLY large on the side of a bus.

Inevitably, the story has now given plenty of online lowlifes the opportunity to further demonize working women on message boards. Amazing how much bile can be spewed when the idea of someone with breasts actually wanting to extend her life outside the realm of snot and diapers rears its head. Sometimes I wonder how far we have actually come.

photo courtesy mediaweek

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