Resources and reporting for mothers and others who think about social change.
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From the editor:

The Mothers Movement Online Endorses
Barack Obama for President

Dear readers and friends,

I believe that we all face transformative moments in life when we understand with great clarity that realizing our true potential requires a conscious departure from the reliable patterns of the past. For me, that moment is now.

For the last five years, I've published the Mothers Movement Online as a resource for "mothers and others who think about social change." While the perspectives represented on the site are decidedly opinionated, consistently feminist, and overtly progressive, I made a decision when I launched the site to remain neutral on electoral politics. I felt this was compatible with the non-commercial, non-profit media model which the MMO aspires to, and have never had a reason to revisit that decision -- until now.

Today, I believe that the problems facing women and families in our global society are too vast and too urgent to maintain a front of impartiality for the sake of decorum. On February 5, millions of American voters will cast ballots that may determine which man or woman becomes the next President of the United States. Each of the Democratic candidates in next Tuesday's race is highly qualified to lead, and all three are genuinely committed to shared prosperity and reproductive justice; to the welfare of children; and to advancing the status of women and people of color. But having interacted with the candidates and their ground-level campaigns in the state of New Hampshire, I'm convinced that only one has the vision, life experience, and judgment to transcend the self-serving politics of the status quo, and only one offers a blueprint for change that will empower people in communities across America to begin the work of repairing the damage done to our collective well-being and morale over the last thirty years. Moreover, there is only one candidate whose political objectives are securely grounded in the moral orientation that serves as the foundation for a truly inclusive and caring society. That candidate is Barack Obama.

I have no expectation that my endorsement of Senator Obama will sway the decision of tens of thousands of voters -- or even tens of voters. The Mothers Movement Online is a small, highly specialized outlet, and fair number of readers live outside the United States. And I assure you, I have no delusions of grandeur regarding my own level of influence on the mainstream political community, which is exactly zero. But as someone who has taken on the role of proselytizing to mothers and others that real change is possible if we are willing to work for it, I feel it would be a breach of trust -- as well a violation of my own values and unwavering commitment to change -- to adhere to a pretense of neutrality. At this particular junction in our nation's history, the stakes are simply too high not to take a stand. As a woman, as a mother, and as an ordinary citizen with a fierce longing for social justice, I am terrified by the specter of the future that lies before us if we do not change our country's present course toward self-destruction and the dissolution of democracy in the United States. And I believe the time to act is now -- the duty is upon us to choose a different destiny. It is no longer enough to talk about change and how to achieve it -- it's time, as they say, to walk the talk.

This announcement also completes the transition of the Mothers Movement Online from an informal organization to an independent media outlet. The site will remain commercial-free for as long as I can afford to produce it without outside funding -- and since the overhead of web publishing is quite low, I plan to continue publishing the site in its current form for years to come (or as long as there is a need for it), barring some personal financial disaster. Nor do I propose to use the site or newsletter to bombard regular readers with constant entreaties to support or contribute to specific political campaigns or causes. To the contrary, it's my intention to keep the editorial content and tone of the MMO much as it is, and my commitment to accuracy in factual reporting is unrelenting. But occasionally, extreme circumstances call for extraordinary action -- and this, dear readers, is one of those occasions.

As I take this reckless leap into my future as a writer, activist, and the founder and editor of the most authoritative web site on motherhood as a social issue, I'm acutely aware that certain options are now closed to me. I can no longer produce the record of nonpartisan advocacy that would qualify the MMO for incorporation as a bona fide non-profit entity, for example, which would make the project eligible for foundation funding. Perhaps some readers and contributing writers -- and I value each and every one of you -- will object to my openly partisan position, or disagree with my rationale. But while the decision to depart from my original ambitions for the Mothers Movement Online has involved a considerable amount of soul-searching over the last few weeks, it was the right thing to do. I have closed one door and opened another -- and by taking that action, have stepped across a threshold that I hope will bring all of us closer to a safer, healthier, and more equitable world for women, children, and working families.

In solidarity,

Judith Stadtman Tucker
Editor, The Mothers Movement Online

29 January 2008

Postscript to the endorsement statement:

I anticipated getting a bit of feedback from regular readers when I decided to exercise my editorial privilege to endorse a presidential candidate on the Mothers Movement Online web site. I respect and celebrate the fact that mothers (and others who support the MMO) are not of one mind regarding our political candidates of choice, and we are incredibly lucky to have a strong and exceptionally well-qualified field of Democratic contenders to choose from in the 2008 primary race. But as I made clear in my endorsement statement, I believe some circumstances are so urgent that it calls for a break with convention, in this case a break with the informal standard of impartiality in electoral politics that has guided the editorial agenda of the MMO for the past five years.

I take my responsibility to MMO readers very seriously -- not because I hope to attract a bigger audience to the site, but because of my own commitment to integrity in publishing. For those readers who felt the Obama endorsement was a misstep onto a "slippery slope" toward the deterioration of the site's range and focus, I fully support your right to be disgruntled. However, as I mentioned in the endorsement statement, readers will not see much of a change in the style or slant of writing on the site. But this departure does open up the possibility of offering more pointed political analysis on the Mothers Movement Online, which I believe will greatly enhance the editorial texture and relevance of the publication.

In the end, the majority of the comments I received were positive. But there were also a few readers who were angry or dismayed by the endorsement, and those who felt that expressing a partisan political position was not in keeping with the spirit and objectives of the broader mothers' movement. These dissenting points of view are absolutely legitimate and welcome. However, I feel I need to clarify something about the structure and goals of the project called "The Mothers Movement Online."

First of all, the MMO is not incorporated either as a non-profit or for-profit enterprise. It doesn't make any money, but it doesn't cost much to run, either. The MMO has no salaried staff, although I do work with several regular contributing writers, who I call on for editorial help or stories on specific topics from time to time. I never have, and never intend to, solicit donations from readers to support the operations of the site. I don't sell stuff or rent out advertising space because I want the site to remain free of commercial influences -- and besides, that kind of thing annoys me. The best way to define the MMO is as a self-funded, independent media project. What you see and read on the site is entirely a reflection of one woman's commitment to providing authoritative, high-quality content on motherhood as a social issue as a resource for change. I launched the Mothers Movement Online in April 2003 because I saw there was a pressing need for precisely such an outlet, and judging from the readership the site has attracted -- the MMO is currently one of the top-ten, non-commercial English language web sites related to motherhood and mothering -- I was not wrong. But the Mothers Movement Online is not, in and of itself, a membership organization, a grass-roots movement, or an activist community -- although it aims to support all those entities. (As one irate reader wrote in response to the Obama endorsement, "Where was the membership poll?" Sorry, the MMO has no members -- only readers.)The MMO is a communication outlet, and the dissemination of information is its primary purpose and function.

Editing and publishing the Mothers Movement Online is pretty much a full-time job, for which I receive occasional praise but no pay. What the MMO gives me is a platform to articulate and share my observations about the various moving parts of the motherhood problem and how to fix it. It also provides me with an opportunity to publish work in other progressive media outlets (which I do get paid for, at least sometimes), and to do press interviews about the state of motherhood in the contemporary United States. The part I like best about my unconventional, self-defined job as the editor of the MMO is working with mothers and organizations who want to act for change. This mainly involves providing information and advice to individuals and groups who are looking for a specific kind of support. I don't get paid for that, either, but I really love working with women who are excited about taking action and ready to get started. I also write and present scholarly essays, and move information related to women, work, family, public policy, and maternal activism between the research community and mothers' movement supporters. I do a lot of reading. But most importantly, I'm drawn to this work for the same reason most readers are drawn to the web site -- something unexpected happened to me when I became a mother, and I wanted to know more about the source of my discontent.

Which is all to say, there are no structural or professional conflicts with using the Mothers Movement Online to endorse a political candidate. I own the MMO -- I own the web domain, I pay for the hosting service, and I own the software used to produce and publish the contents of the site. Which, as noted, does not absolve me of responsibility to my readership. I believe that my editorial standards are extremely high for a self-published web site, which is one of the reasons the MMO looks and feels like a more formal venture. Reader, it is my gift to you. But is also a way to amplify my own voice.

The final comment I will add is that the one thing I found striking about the letters of solidarity and support I received after publishing the endorsement was that people gave me a lot of credit for my candor and living my values. To me, that's what social activism is all about -- showing up, paying attention, speaking your personal truth, and accepting the consequences with humility and grace. But I wonder, with all of the no- and low-cost do-it-yourself media options available today, why aren't more mothers speaking up about who they plan to vote for, and which candidates stink, and why? I realize from interacting with mothers over the last ten years that there is an unwritten taboo about raising topics that are known to create friction in the maternal community -- which at this point includes everything from the disposable-versus-cloth diaper debate and the ideal duration for breastfeeding -- but I'm here to say that going with the flow costs us a lot. Mothers have a reputation for being apolitical and disengaged from the civic process, which I believe is partly deserved. If we're unwilling to explore the difficult issues raised by the ideological and political conflicts that surface during a major election, we forego an opportunity to engage in a productive dialog about some of the most important issues of our time.

Judith Stadtman Tucker
30 January 2008

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