The idea is to present how the Media shows models of perfect mothers and observe how we absorb and naturally force ourselves to follow these examples.
At the beginning, I was thinking about making an academic research, with all the rigor required for that. But the motivation had an origin in a personal experience, and there was no chance for me to separate it from myself.
When my first son was born, in 2003, I was facing challenges that I had never imagined before. One day, I was in the waiting-room of my gyno, and I read a report in Claudia (a Brazilian women’s magazine), about a woman who had given birth to a baby at the same day I had: January 21st. Four months later, on May, for her, everything was pretty calm… So much different from me…
An immense sensation of guilt invaded my soul. Or incompetence. Or jealousy. I don’t know… The baby magazines, the gossip magazines, with so many articles and reports with great testimonies, and baby stuff ads, all of these things revealed a world of dreams. I felt like I was obligated to reproduce this world.
In 2003, I also finished my Master’s degree in Communication, on social marketing. The main question was: why don’t the social marketing campaigns have the same impact that commercial adverting has? This research originated the book “Duas faces da Publicidade: campanhas sociais e mercadológicas” (“Two faces of Advertising: social and commercial marketing campaigns” – Ed. Annablume, published only in Brazil).
All right. I used the Discourse Analyses Theories to give foundation to this work. The same theories lighted up in my mind: Wake up, Marusia! You are very naive in accepting these perfect mother models…
Everybody who starts working with Discourse Analysis (DA) gets amazed, because he/she acquires a new view – more than that, a new posture.
Suddenly, that ideal world I had seen in the magazines didn’t distress me anymore and became a fascinating theme for analysis. I began identifying the regularities (this is what is repeated in those discourses). I have assembled all of the magazines about babies that I had and, for two years, always on May, I would go to newsstands and would buy everything I found about the subject – as May is the “Mother’s Month” in Brazil, it’s obvious that the number of publications was considerable. At the same time, I clipped and saved reports and ads from other magazines if something attracted my attention. Done. After all, I also had had a respectable object of research.
I would wait to get all of these things sewn up and produce a paper or a monograph, but I decided to go writing bit by bit (during my bits of spare time, because now, ten years later, I have already had three children). Detachment and courage were needed, too – to share something that is still in gestation. At the same time, I could count on the possibility of having a many-hands writing, since in a space was opened to the participation of other people, via internet.
It’s motivated me to include in the research other “models of perfect mother”, beyond what is in the institutional Media: the models that are born in the social media and are responsible for the multiplicity of “voices” about the theme. So, it’s possible to establish the dialogue between those two discourses – in the Media and on the web.
Conspiracy Theory? I’m out!
One of the most revolutionary aspects of DA, to me, is considering the message’s “receiver” as a co-author in the discourse. It buries the limited notion of “dominators and dominated” groups: on one side, the big mass communication media in charge of a “system” with ulterior motives to make everybody coopted; on the other side, the mass of poor helpless victims, as hostages to information, being alienated in order to follow the same agenda.
This agenda doesn’t support itself. The models of perfection in motherhood shown on the Media exist because there are echo, receptivity and interest from the public. I dare to speak about our need of that “ideal world” with its characters, scenarios, stories.
What mustn’t be missed is: the ideal world doesn’t have any obligation to resemble the real life. It doesn’t need to be plausible. It shows instantaneous photographs in those celebrities’ lives – artificial moments.
We don’t have to take it seriously. It’s up to us to observe it from a critical posture.