Girls Run the World

Girls Run the World October 14, 2011

“Rocking it at work. Kicking “being-a-mom’s” ass.”

Reagan–Cristina Applegate’s character on “Up All Night”– is quickly becoming my new favorite TV heroine. Struggling to balance career and family, she is never a victim of work, or of motherhood. You never see her sacrifice one at the painful expense of the other. She has healthy boundaries, leaving work to make her kid’s play date, but also empowering her husband Chris (Will Arnett) to be a full-time dad while she works. She doesn’t micromanage. When he is home, mom is not hovering in the background, dictating what baby eats, wears and watches. In short, she is truly “rockin it at work, and kicking being a mom’s ass.” She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and she even dons the occasional thong for her super-dad husband.

Refreshing to see in a culture where the “mother” role has been pitted against “successful career woman” role for way too long.

Last night’s episode, “Mr. Bob’s Toddler Kaleidescope” went one further toward bringing some girl power balance. Chris and Reagan are attending a toddler play class (wherein they do not have real names but are referred to only as “Amy’s mom ” and “Amy’s dad”) that is full of otherwise stay-at-home moms. Wherein “Kayla’s Mom” is that passive-aggressive sort of prototype who says things like “Is Amy crawling yet?…Oh, it’s ok. Kayla’s probably just a little more advanced because I stay home with her.”

Wherein Cristina Applegate becomes the girl of our 80’s childhood, who has grown up with us and nailed the truth-telling one-liner, every step of the way…”I’m sure she’ll be fine because, you know, I was an athlete in college. I was a dancer, a gymnast…Where did you get your workouts, upstairs at the frat house?” Yeah, nailed it.

Except, that’s the scene you expect from working-mom vs. soccer mom tv land. The scene that you do not expect comes at the end…wherein Reagan sees “Kayla’s Mom” struggling to fold up a stroller, and goes to help. Wherein both moms wind up taking out their mama-frustrations, beating and stomping the stroller–not each other– into pieces, and then agreeing to get together later “for some margs.”

This is where tv and motherhood just evolved in a single scene, folks. You might have missed it because you were too busy laughing and saying “Oh, that is SO my life!”  but what just happened here was huge. What just happened was, the charicatures of motherhood that have been pitted against each other since the 70s, just demolished a *^$&#@ stroller together, and bonded over it. In about 5 sitcom seconds, the world shifted. The funny girl of our youth just embodied what some of us have been screaming for years… it is hard enough being a mom without having to justify our choices to other women.  Ultimately [because Ava hates the phrase “at the end of the day” just as much as I do] women have more power when they stick together. Ultimately, we all need help kicking that stroller’s ass, and we all need some other women to just go get drinks with. Even Kayla’s mom.

We have wasted far too much time and energy trying to prove ourselves in the workplace at the expense of our families; or trying to justify staying at home at the expense of women who do not; or trying to justify not having kids to all to the people who say your life is meaningless without them. It’s high time we learn– we are all in this ‘being a girl’ business together.

These days, women who choose stay-home momming as a full-time job do so because they want to, not because they have no other gifts or options. “Choose” being the operative word.  That right there is a huge step for womankind. Those women should be empowered in that choice, rather than being made to feel inferior to those who choose the juggling act.  At the same time, those of us who keep our day jobs should not have to endure silent (and not-so-silent) condemnation from the Kayla’s moms of the world.  Other women are not the enemy. Hollywood, Wall Street and Washington have somehow conspired to paint us into opposing corners–and in doing so, they succeed in keeping us in corners. Or keeping us “in our place,” as it were.

I’ve been watching Ken Burn’s “Prohibition.” I appreciate how he portrays the women’s role in the whole movement. In short, women brought the prohibition to reality, and a decade later, a new wave of women brought it to a grinding halt. Strong, defiant women on both sides, who realized their power and used it to effect change in the world. It’s telling that on both ends of this historic movement, the women claimed to speak for all women everywhere. For all their power to effect change in the world, they still couldn’t quite get it together and realize that they were all on the same side. They had to, ultimately, demonize the other camp in order to hack it in a man’s world.

That’s not to say that some significant leaders didn’t rise out of the movement–again, on both sides. But nearly 100 years later, it is high time we learn that women kick ass at home, and at work–whether they are choosing one or the other, or both. And we are far more effective at both when we have each other’s backs.

If you did not already know that “Up All Night” was written by women, you would know it after watching last night’s episode. Killing it at work, rocking it at home, and still having time for a marg…together.  Thanks, ladies. We needed that. It seems that post-prohibition women finally agree on at least one thing– drinks are a must for mamas and moguls alike; and we might as well raise that glass together.

On another girl power note, I’m sharing a “Glee” moment from last week, just because it was so stinkin awesome. Yes, Beyonce’s original is a little more prophetic, artistic, etc. But this one is just plain fun. And Lord knows, the girls can always use a little more of that.

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  • Amy

    Amen, Sister.

  • This is one amazing post, Erin. You need to submit this to Huffington Post or someplace. Your analysis is outstanding, and your point is a truth that needs to get out there. Please find a way to submit this for a wider audience.

    • thanks, rachel. you know, every place i’ve ever published is out of print now! [does that say something about me?? :)] anyway, suggestions on where i might submit? not really church-y enough for xn cent or those kind of places. also, i’d welcome some feedback for trimming and/or adding in places before i put it out there.

  • I have some friends who have been published over at HuffPo. I’ll ask them how to submit. Perhaps Ms. Magazine (their submission info is found here: or another pro-woman magazine (notice I didn’t say women’s magazine because most of those are really not too pro-woman). Feminist Majority has a list of worthy pro-woman magazines here: I hope this helps. It really is a great piece.