This really cool series of events over the course of the last few months resulted in me and the kids being in a 15 second CNN commercial, representing working moms! Have you seen it? I haven’t except online. My husband did once, during CNN Headline News when he was at the airport! How crazy is that?
How did this come to be? When Rick Santorum was still in the running for the GOP presidential candidate nominee, I got really pissed off about his stance on many things, most importantly contraception. He made remarks comparing insurance coverage of birth control to covering things like soap, essentially implying it was affordable enough to pay for it with pocket change, that it was silly to include it in health plans and cheapening the importance of it in the lives of women and families.
I was so mad I couldn’t sleep. I had seen a few other I reports on CNN and thought that was pretty cool…. that anybody could share their story. So I made a spontaneous seven minute video at four a.m. and posted it. CNN approved it and the next day posted a link to it on their homepage. Before the end of the day it had over 50,000 views. My boss and coworkers saw it on there before I did – they gathered around the flat screen to watch it – yikes! My conservative parents were surprisingly nonplussed by their daughter discussing her IUD on CNN. My moms reaction? “They posted that video where you’re wearing no makeup?”
The comments from CNN readers were very interesting. It did sting a little, being called a ‘government parasite.’ I learned not to really read the comments…. but that’s hard not to do. Reactions from friends and family were mostly positive… saying things like I was brave, wondering why I did it, etc., but mostly they didn’t even acknowledge it. The best reaction I got? A friend of mine’s husband who teaches high school used it in his social studies class. He said something to me like, “Thank you for doing this. Maybe now somebody else will feel like they can do it too.”
Long story short, I did a few more videos. CNN named me iReporter pundit of the week a little while later. Eventually they emailed me asking if I was interested in filming some footage for a a commercial as part of their America’s Choice series. I said yes and the hubs, the kids and I spent a morning filming me answering the questions a producer had emailed me and a few more shots.
Mind you we are total amateurs. This whole thing is still a little surreal yet awesome. Little ole me?
I’m telling you this story not to out my liberal leanings, not to say anything about myself, but to encourage you to do exactly what I did. Or anything similar where you feel so strong about something that you do or say something that feels courageous yet scary and important.
I think sometimes people, especially women, choose not to publicly speak out because they think maybe others will think they are attention hogs, want the spotlight, or are outspoken loudmouths. Others feel like they just don’t want to get involved, that it takes too much time, or they assume that someone somewhere else will speak up instead. If you’re in a job, there may be more pressure to not say something that might jeopardize your career. (I did have visions of my boss seeing this and asking me to stop. Luckily my boss and our CEO rock and support free speech on your free time!) Who doesn’t fear labels or battle those excuses?
I also think women are dissuaded, directly or indirectly, from sharing their political opinions, and…let’s ask, why is that exactly? Are the only people allowed to share political thought politicians, journalists and men? Then let’s ask… What is the ratio of women to men in public office? How much money do women earn compared to men… Huh?
So what’s does this have to do with being a working mom? Well, I never took a minute off work to do any of this. I found the time for this “activism” because it was important to me. In fact, I felt possessed by the need to act, much like I feel when my kids are threatened. Because really, that’s what’s at stake here – their future. And I found something I could do in a fairly powerful way that did not involve me taking off work to go protesting, picketing or lobbying.
We working moms must have a political voice… For ourselves, our kids, our family, to have a say in how our society should and should not work. Because if you don’t stand for something, as the says saying goes, you’ll fall for anything… Or get caught in the traps set by somebody else.