Gwyneth Paltrow Is a Working Mom So Leave Her Alone Already

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is nothing if not a lightning rod for criticism. Apple and Moses' mother need only open her mouth for the attacks to begin, and let's face it: it's hard not to scoff at a woman who coins pretentious phrases just to avoid admitting she's getting divorced like the peons. But the latest flap over Paltrow dubbing herself a working mother has little to do with the actress herself and much to do with the way moms in America are divided.

Paltrow used the words to describe herself at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser about equal pay, citing her status as a "working mother" as reason the cause is close to her heart. Fox News' Greta Van Susteren responded with a scathing blog post calling Paltrow out as a "tone deaf actress" and insisting the mother of two's nannies and million-dollar paycheck make her anything but a "working mom."


Semantics, anyone? Susteren admits that, technically, Paltrow works and has kids, but then wades into a rant about wealth and assistance that comes off as, well, pretty tone deaf about motherhood:

Literally she is correct (she is a mother and does movies and gets paid) but she does not get it. She is tone deaf!

I don’t know about you, but I do not define ‘working mother’ as a woman with nannies and who makes millions of dollars each year. That just is not a ‘working mother to me.’

I appreciate that she wants women to have equal pay for equal work — I agree with that of course — but a woman with nannies (or who can easily afford them) and millions of dollars just is not a ‘working mother’ to me.

Yes, Greta, most working mothers in America do not have millions of dollars. But let's face facts: all mothers are in different situations.

Some of us stay at home. Some of us stay at home and babysit the occasional kid for a little extra cash. Some of us stay at home and work. Some of us work outside of the home. Some of us have family members to chip in as caregivers. Some take kids to a daycare center. Some have a stay-at-home spouse. Some have nannies. Some cobble together a system by which we work odd hours and never see our partners so someone is always with the child.

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Does that mean we are different people at our core? That our worries and concerns about our children are different or less or better, depending on our situation?

Does having a nanny make someone less worried that their kid will get bullied at school? Does having family members who watch their kids mean a mom gets to complain less about missing out on the school play because she has to work?

Of course not.

And splitting hairs like this does nothing more than pit mom against mom, make some moms feel "less than" because of the way their lives work.

Clearly Paltrow is at the center of this attack because A) she spoke at a Democratic event, and van Susteren is a conservative TV pundit, and B) she has made some rather silly comments in the past that make her an easy target.

But cutting a mother down for having advantages doesn't pull up moms who don't have them. And this notion that women like Gwynnie aren't "working mothers" simply because they have some privileges that others do not is -- unfortunately -- a pervasive issue in the trenches of the so-called mommy wars.

We see it in the park, where mothers try to play the "who's got it worse game" and on the Internet where mothers deride others for their choices and, yes, their privileges.

It comes from both sides. On the one hand, you have some (not all) stay-at-home moms knocking working mothers for not sacrificing enough to stay home. On the other, you have working mothers telling the stay-at-home moms not to complain because at least they don't have to work. And then there are the myriad insults in between, all boiling down to: "I have it the worst, and I don't care what you say, because I'm not listening, nanny, nanny, boo, boo."


Motherhood is hard. And it's made harder by the incessant need to break each other down to build ourselves up.

Fact: some moms have advantages others do not. Some have the ability to be at home with their kids all the time and not have to worry about paying the bills. They're still moms.

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Some work but have plenty of money and freedom to make choices about when to take on a job or when they can bring their kids with them. They're still moms.

We don't "turn off the mother" in us based on our circumstances -- financial or otherwise. Not even Gwyneth Paltrow.

What do you think the definition of "working mother" is?


Image via @Parisa/Splash News

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