Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Becomes Newest Victim of “Mommy Wars”

Photo Credit: Fortune

Welcome to Motherhood, Marissa Mayer! Now be prepared to be the victim of vicious online mommy wars!

Certainly a way to kick off motherhood right?

The Yahoo CEO graced the cover of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women this week, and also met a firestorm of controversy on the internet. Mom blogs, message boards, and parenting websites attacked the first time mom, criticizing her for not appearing pregnant on the cover — she gave birth this week to a son, so I’m pretty sure she’s not back to this pre-pregnancy shape just yet!

Many insisted that by appearing on the cover in all her pregnant glory it would send a message to women all over the country about being strong and powerful while pregnant. And while I agree with this statement to an extent, I also understand how private and personal a pregnancy can be.

Not all mothers want to show off their baby bump to the world. And guess what? It is totally their right!

While Mayer is a new face for the working moms, she also has a right to her privacy and personal choices, despite what the internet has to say. Just like any other mother!

Pregnant CEO or not, she doesn’t have to answer to the internet fueling the old and boring mommy wars.

Over on the popular parenting blog The Stir, Rebecca Phillips said:

Either way, what a missed opportunity for Fortune, for Mayer, and for moms like me everywhere. Like it or not, Mayer is a new role model for working moms. As the head of a massive public company, she’ll be scrutinized closely to see exactly how she manages trying to have it all. How much will she work while on her (albeit abbreviated) maternity leave? How will she handle childcare while working long hours at the office? Will she breastfeed and pump after returning to work? How does she manage her work-life balance so she actually spends time with her new baby boy?

All of which I find to be good points, but besides the issue here. As a working mother myself (not that I can even compare working from home to being the CEO of Yahoo!) I don’t want people questioning my choices. Whether or not she breastfeeds is her choice. Her childcare situation is again, her choice. How long she wants to take off for maternity leave again… you guessed it!  Her choice!

I guess my point is, we should embrace Mayer for being a role model for ourselves and our daughters. She has her cake and is eating it too. Something we all want to be able to do.

Supporting mothers and their choices is key to success. Not throwing around online judgment about what we think she should be doing because of our own personal biases.

If you truly support women, you will stop judging them and support them no matter what you think!

Image via Fortune

  • Mom24

    Moreover, as you imply, the choices the CEO of Yahoo! makes regarding childcare, maternity leave, etc. will hardly provide any sort of guidance for or reasonable insight into the situations faced by the great majority of working mothers.

    Whether she chooses to hire multiple nannies, housekeepers, drivers, etc. is (I agree) completely her own private choice. But most of us do not even have the opportunity to make those choices. So – the only reason anyone wants her to share such info is to satisfy their own curiosity, not because her choices make some sort of statement for the rest of us!

  • Jessica

    I’m willing to bet that cover photo was not chosen the night before print. Can’t wait until this latest debate gets to the predictable end where we all say that we should support each other vs judge each other…until the next controversial thing happens. It almost feels like the mommy wars make women develop an unhealthy relationship between ourselves.

  • Heather Bowles

    Jealousy is a powerful driving force in most women’s lives. Most people never have the opportunity to make the money she does, and her unwillingness to give it up so she can stay home with her child for the next 6 years will make struggling SAHM’s green. Even I am filled with a certain amount of envy.

    I am also sad for her, because the reality is that she will likely miss this child’s first words, and first steps, although the baby’s caretakers will hopefully be kind enough not to tell anyone so when she discovers the skills two weeks after he starts doing them.

  • These are all very legitimate questions because as women we want to have it all and we will look to those who are in the highest positions to see how they manage. And she’ll feel guilty every second she’s at work not because of what others say, but because she’ll miss her baby terribly. And then when she’s at home she’ll be worried about what’s happening at work. This isn’t a mom war like you always like to say everything is, but at the same time like to start your own. How do you feel about Bristol Palin as a mother again Danielle? Judging her parenting when she didn’t discipline her 3 year old for swearing (although no one really knows what the child said) but you sure thought it was wrong in spite of you laughing at your own 3 year old when he swears. So maybe you should stop passing judgement against moms before you tell other moms not to pass judgement. Not everything everyone does is nefarious like you would like to make it out to be. Inquiring minds really might want to know how she is going to have it all so they can emulate that themselves.

  • Tricia

    If anyone knows anything about publishing, they should know this cover was most likely shot a long time before she was even showing….people need to make educated comments about real issues.

  • Sorry, but I’m gonna have to say no.

    First, the idea of a public figure free of responsibility to the public is false. Leaders in the public eye DO have a higher responsibility to think about the examples they are setting. This is as true for CEOs as it is for professional baseball players.

    Once you become a role model for a generation of kids, the onus is on you to think about how your choices will be perceived and possibly emulated. It’s one of the reasons fame sucks. But once you accept a public position, and the perks that go with it, then you also must accept the burdens of fame as well.

    Second, why must we “embrace Mayer as a role model for ourselves and our daughters”? Just because she’s a C- level executive and a woman? That’s it? That’s all it takes? Even if we disagree with her choices, her politics or anything else she says does, or decides she stands for?

    I’m not signing up for that kind of slavish loyalty to my gender and I hope no one else will either. Certainly no man would do it.

  • Tricia, that is true. What is also most likely true is that the cover was timed to coincide with the month when her child would be born. That was no coincidence. But here’s the thing — while magazines do many things months out, in the photo they used Mayer appears to be not pregnant at all, meaning they chose to use a photo from at least 10 months ago. Magazine covers aren’t decided that far out — at the point in time the magazine decided to feature her on the cover, odds are she would have been “showing.” There was a purposeful decision there.

    • Really? You showed a baby bump the moment you became pregnant? With my first I was 9 months pregnant and people were just beginning to ask me if I was pregnant because I looked 5 months pregnant. So who knows when she began to show. Maybe it was 6 months ago. And maybe this was the picture Marissa wanted to use. Don’t make wars where there are none please!

  • Also, as one person on Facebook pointed out — this is, yet again, an upper-middle class/upper class “problem” to have. The vast majority of working mothers in our country have no choice in whether they get paid time off, how much, how soon they have to go back to work. Those decisions are driven by most people by whether they will lose work or a paycheck.

  • This woman has been a mother for all of 5 nano-seconds. I don’t understand how already-mothers are expecting her to be a role model for anything. She has no idea what’s she’s in yet. She just barely got the slightest taste of Maternal Hormones. She has not one itty bitty clue how she’s really going to handle being a CEO and a mother. Who among us can’t relate to being woefully naive about our ability to do everything and anything all at once?

    Jeez, if we’re looking for mothering/working role models how bout someone who has already done it like Hilary Clinton or Meg Whitman? This young woman can’t be your role model if you’ve already got a 10 year old kid. It’s time to woman up and be hers.

    Piling up all of American Working Mother’s work/life/balance expectations and wishes and fantasies onto this one very young, very new mother isn’t going to change the reality of what it’s like for the “average American mother.”

    It’s not her job to fix it. Her job is to be the CEO of Yahoo! and a mother to this son she just had only nano-seconds ago. She likely is laying in bed every night going “OMG, OMG, OMG, I have no idea how to do this.” just like everybody who has ever tried to do anything worth doing.

    Our chant should be “You can go it! you can do it! you can do it!”

    • Hi Tracee,

      I give birth in seven weeks. First child at 39, so waited a long time. Now co running own business with hubby but with first child around the corner am a tad anxious how best to juggle these two new interesting roles for me and my family. Surprisingly, I will need to hear from the Mayers and the Middletons because they will be the mothers I will think of in years to come. The mothers that were with me, in it, together.

      That is why, even with her five nano seconds as a mother, I will be looking up to her and see how collectively we are working/working around the Mommy Jungle.

      Support us, Let us

  • I don’t see any issue with her being non-pregnant on the cover. It seems to be making an issue out of something that doesn’t need to be. Yes it would be cool to see a totally pregnant power-mama on a cover, but I’m not going to get upset if that’s not the photo used.

  • I agree with both Danielle and Tracee on this: It is nobody’s business, and I’m tired of us women being our own worst enemies by judging the parenting choices of others. Sheesh. Raising that baby is going to be a cake walk compared with turning Yahoo! around. (Especially since Marissa Mayer has resources and power the rest of us can only dream of.)

  • Yet again another time when Moms need to mind their business. This does not effect us at all. You as a person showing the world that being pregnant and successful makes a difference, not Marissa Mayer. Dads don’t get up in arms that Steve Jobs never graced a cover holding one of his kids. The things we choose to argue and bicker over are a bit ridiculous sometimes.

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