The Latest Installment of Women Being Horrible to Other Women

What Women Really Think
Feb. 4 2013 3:50 PM

The Latest Installment of Women Being Horrible to Other Women

women fighting
Two women fighting about attachment parenting.

Shutterstock/Everett Collection

The latest mommy blogger dustup—a mere skirmish in a decade-long tiresome and trumped up Internet world war—happened last week, when a mother of three named Janine Kovac wrote a post for the website Role/Reboot in which she addressed a “friend” named Doris, “who thinks of herself as a career woman,” and is on the fence about having kids. Kovac’s letter to Doris was sneering and condescending, implying that motherhood is the only way to become a more selfless and enlightened soul. So of course it went viral.

But in a chest-beating apologia today in Salon, Kovac says the post was meant to be satirical (there is no Doris), only no one got the joke: She was widely and deservedly thumped as an obnoxious “sanctimommy” by several women’s websites.

While some of the commentariat response to Kovac was excessively mean, her apology to the Internet was also excessive, unnecessary and really unsatisfying. First off, it’s pretty useless to apologize to the Internet. The Internet doesn’t care. Secondly, if the original piece was really meant as satire, there’s nothing to apologize for, other than bad satire. But the actual content of the mea culpa tells a different story: It’s the classic non-apology apology. “I wish I didn’t have snarky thoughts,” Kovac writes. “But I do. I gave voice to them and created an image of me that is not my best self. It was a mistake.” It seems she’s mostly upset because people are angry and she looked bad—not because she really thinks things about other women, like:


“In a way, telling yourself that you’re not ready to become a parent is like saying, ‘I’m not ready to broaden my horizons.’ Or, ‘I’m not ready to be humbled on a daily basis.’ Or, ‘I’m not ready to feel my heart swell up with admiration and pride.’”

It seems like Kovac really does think that motherhood makes you a better person (which is why it makes sense that Kovac says she based the toxic, judgmental “Doris” in part, on her pre-child self). And it’s telling that she didn’t even take the backlash seriously until it came from her writing peers. When it was just from the nameless, faceless commenter hoards, she seemed to believe what her brother told her, which was that “people are just projecting their insecurities” onto her—not true in this instance, but pretty much the definition of the mommy wars, generally.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.



The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?