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I am rarely at a loss for words but I recently saw something that was so maddening, so wrong, so deeply offensive, that I was rendered speechless.
A real estate firm sent out an ad that asks the question "Who would you rather represent you?" One half of the postcard shows a completely overwhelmed mother of three trying to make a phone call. She is tied up with a rope, being face-painted by her daughter, a baby at her feet has a colander on his head, and her house is a disaster. Over this photo reads the words "Part Time Agent." It's juxtaposed by two men in suits standing in an office with their hands in their pockets. Over the second photo it reads "Full Time Professionals." The back of the mailer goes on to claim that agents who are also mothers are "Available at THEIR convenience, not yours."
I was so happy to see that this was met with serious backlash, but the news outlet that broke this story gave it a very frustrating headline: "Real Estate Ad Upsets Working Moms." Working moms shouldn't be, and likely aren't, the only ones upset by this piece of prejudice arriving in their mailbox unsolicited. This isn't just a working mom's issue, this is an issue that affects the community at large.
We've worked too hard and come too far to allow this kind of blatant sexism fly. We don't want our children raised in a world that openly mocks mothers as less than—less professional, less worthy, less competent. These allegations aren't just factually wrong, they are morally repugnant.
First of all, as a part-time working mother of two I have never been tied up and drawn on by my children. And I don't know any other mothers—working or otherwise—who have been either. It is quite possible to be a mother and a professional. I even do both at the same time as my youngest son comes to work with me and it never stops me from meeting the needs of my clients. Mothers are some of the hardest working, most organized people I know.
Ultimately they really did us a favor, because they demonstrated that while we have come far in our quest for women's rights, there is still more work to be done.
Furthermore, in this specific instance, a mother can provide valuable insight and understanding to the stressful process of buying and selling a home. It is clear that the men behind this mailer wouldn't have needed to create an ad like this if they weren't losing clients to these so-called "unprofessional" moms. Most of the people in their target market are either mothers themselves or married to one. No one wants to work with someone who thinks it's okay to demean them or someone they love. I would rather work with someone who hustled, even on what is clearly a very bad day, than two people that seem to enjoy standing around.
Some would argue that any press is good press, but in this case I am confident that it won't be true. I know that personally if the only thing standing between me and my dream house was working with these two suits, I would sooner live in a one room shack. Ultimately they really did us a favor, because they demonstrated that while we have come far in our quest for women's rights, there is still more work to be done.
Let's start celebrating mothers instead of shaming them. I know plenty of fathers who choose flexible careers like real estate so that they can be more present in their children's lives. This isn't considered unprofessional, in fact it is rightly commended. Women should be afforded that same praise and support.