Moms Behaving Badly — Appalling!

Yes, I am appalled — not about the behavior covered, but by the sexist way it was covered.  No discussion of fathers and LOTS of judgment of mothers.  Shoplifting and getting shit-faced drunk are ways ALL of us can behave badly.  I have never seen his daytime show before, but based on his other work I expected more from Anderson Cooper.  I guess daytime TV has to be sexist.

What do you think?  Is the way the topic is framed sexist or am I an overly sensitive and angry feminist?  (I am definitely angry, but I really don’t think I am sensitive.)

3 thoughts on “Moms Behaving Badly — Appalling!

  1. I think your outrage is justified. Our culture has been undermining and villifying parents for decades, most especially mothers. I think this is downright shameful. How would he feel about a newsmagazine doing a special on “gays behaving badly”? I would hope he would be justifiably outraged at that.

  2. One angle not yet mentioned: An daytime tv, this segment is a targeted invitation to indulge in righteous self-comparison. The implicit title is, “Bored daytime moms, want to measure yourself against other daytime moms, and/or fantasize about cheap transgressions?”

    In other words, the problem isn’t just what the Anderson Cooper segment is *about*, but the viewer attitudes it implicitly expects and invites. The projection (and the self-fulfilling stereotype) is that moral surveillance is most riveting when there’s a shared “essential” identity between watcher and watched, a significant mechanism of getting women to take “enforcer” attitudes toward one another.

    The real kicker is that after most of the show highlights purported vice in mothers, the last segment is about one virtuously persistent businessman. Hmm.

  3. How interesting, I was just citing this excerpt of a study in my recent conference paper, a study in which reality and daytime watchers are found likely to be ‘status-oriented people’ — here’s the excerpt I used:

    The more status-oriented people are, the more likely they are to view reality television and report pleasure and enjoyment. People who are motivated by status have an above-average need to feel self-important. Reality television may gratify this psychological need in two ways. One possibility is that viewers feel they are more important (have higher status) than the ordinary people portrayed on reality television shows. The idea that these are “real” people gives psychological significance to the viewers’ perceptions of superiority… Reality television viewers are more motivated by vengeance than are nonviewers.

    Steven Reiss and James Wiltz (2004), “Why People Watch Reality TV,” Media Psychology 6, 373-374.

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