But the amount of derision directed at mothers seems out of proportion.
“We still have a virgin-whore binary in American pop culture, and this governs motherhood as well,” Professor Douglas said. The same way in which girls are labeled either good or bad, so are mothers. The same level of censure does not seem to apply to sons, whose risky behavior is often seen as merely a rite of passage.
Professor Douglas thinks the reproach directed at some celebrities’ mothers speaks to the particular kinds of lessons that mothers are supposed to teach their daughters — lessons Lindsay, Britney and Paris seem not to have learned. “It’s supposed to be a mother’s job to train her daughter into how to domesticate her various desires,” she said. “If we see a young woman who hasn’t done that, the mother has failed her tutorial.”
i love that phrase: 'domesticate her various desires.' good mothers are supposed to teach us how to tame desire, make them homey, safe, appropriate. make them 'feminine.' i also like the connection the piece makes to bourgeois values and idealizations of womanhood. so victorian.
and if you go to these different gossip sites (where female judgment runs rampant), you'll read that these lessons about appropriate motherly/daughterly behavior are well-ingrained. (though, apparently, easily discarded, as well.)
but, as the article notes, scrutiny of the father and of sons is not often done - and this perhaps is an oversight. where is the surveillance of fatherly behavior? where is the constant preying on the behavior of sons gone bad?
(where is the chastising of joe francis' mother, for instance? why has his home training gone unnoticed, while the parenting skills of the girls he preys on becomes fodder for vicious speculation?)
how would our popular discourse change if we, for instance, began a hyper-close look at sports figures and their daddy issues? (or their absent daddy issues?) would we say that doping and cheating and violence and dog-fighting and assault could be laid at the feet of these athletes' fathers? (even if the fathers aren't present, their absence IS a presence, one could argue.)
but no. that's not as much fun as looking at a woman self-destruct and then blaming her mother. so much better to kick a woman than scrutinize a man.
Sometimes Mothers Can Do No Right - New York Times