Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, marching for workers' rights in Trinidad, Colorado, circa 1910.

Our namesake, a mother, Mary Harris Jones.Zinn Education Project

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First, liberals canceled Christmas. Then, Thanksgiving. Now, they’re throwing Mother’s Day out with the trash.

At least, that’s how Fox News sees it.

In a recent article, the right-wing site accused “the left” of “trying to erase mothers.” Among the apparent culprits are trans people. “A mother is a woman who by birth or adoption lovingly devotes herself to her child or children,” the article declares. So far, fine—if a bit heavy on the notion that motherhood must involve unyielding devotion. Then, things go off the rails: “Talk about demeaning cultural appropriation, slurs like ‘chest feeders’ or ‘birthing person’ don’t create equality, they just erase unique contributions because no biological man can do what we women do, nurture life within ourselves and nurture life day in and day out in a way that is uniquely feminine.”

It’s unclear to me what the use of gender-neutral language has to do with cultural appropriation. But I find the equation of womanhood with “nurturing life within ourselves” to be particularly offensive. By the writer’s own definition, a woman who adopts a child is a mother. But one sentence later, she suggests that motherhood boils down to our reproductive capabilities—leaving us to wonder where women who are biologically incapable of having children fall into this paradigm. I also reject the notion that nurturing life necessarily falls under any gendered umbrella.

The writer takes particular offense with a “thuggish” Time article that has the audacity to suggest that, amid attacks on abortion rights, motherhood should be desired, not forced. Mother’s Day, according to this notion, is “a day designed to honor a choice for LIFE.” But the key word there isn’t the one in all-caps. It’s “choice.”

Fox News doesn’t mention this on the author page, but the writer isn’t a journalist. It’s Kristi S. Hamrick, who does publicity work for the anti-abortion Students for Life, among other organizations. Previously, she worked for the Family Research Council, a group that promotes “family values” like being against gay marriage. (She hosted their show “Straight Talk with FRC,” she writes in her bio.)

If we want to honor mothers, we might start by bolstering our safety nets for mothers and children. As my colleague Abby Vesoulis reported last year, states with strict anti-abortion laws also tend to have more food insecurity, lower child wellness, and less guaranteed parental leave than other states. “It’s like they want us to have [kids],” one single mother told Abby, “but they are not giving us anything to raise them.”

Motherhood does not need to be predicated on suffering, despite what everything from Fox News to Genesis might have us believe. This Mother’s Day, consider a world where mothers get the help they need—from the family, the community, and, yes, the government—to make the job of childrearing a little bit easier. But that might be too great a stretch of the imagination for a publication that’s flabbergasted by the notion of making sure kids don’t go hungry at school.

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