Right in time for Mother’s Day, because of the ad you see here, one million mothers (sort of) have their sights set on JC Penney. You might think this was good news for them.
First, let’s recall when, earlier this year, the conservative American Family Association’s “One Million Moms” project decried and threatened to boycott the department-store retailer for hiring comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson simply because she is lesbian. This is what they said:
“Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families…DeGeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store.”
DeGeneres responded to that charge with a succinct, but brilliant monologue on her talk show, For those that can’t watch the video I linked, DeGeneres noted that JC Penney stuck with her despite the criticism, and added:
“I usually don’t talk about stuff like this on my show, but I really want to thank everyone who is supporting me. Here are the values I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for.”
OMM dropped their JC Penney boycott in March. At the time, they said they felt confident they’d gotten their message across to the larger public. But now, it looks like this Mother’s Day ad pictured above was just too much. It was the last egg to crack, I guess, because this is what OMM wrote today in in a statement oddly headlined “Don’t Count Your JCP Chickens Before They Hatch”:
OMM has so many issues to cover we had no choice but to move on earlier in the year but have decided to revisit this issue and speak out again. It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well.
I’m not sure what neutrality means to One Million Moms, but I’m sure reinforcing a heteronormative culture by exhibiting extreme homophobia isn’t it. “What was the purpose in stating on page eleven that Wendi and Maggie are partners?” OMM’s statement asks. OMM views this, as well as DeGeneres’ association with JC Penney, as an attack on “traditional families” – which is interesting, since that statement could itself be considered offensive to families that contain same-sex partnerships.
It appears that what One Million Moms wants is for JC Penney (and Urban Outfitters and Toys ‘R’ Us) to cut off all association with anything remotely related to the LGBT community for no reason other than that it’s offensive to their own beliefs. In that case, I’d like to demand neutrality from Aflac and ask them to stop using a duck as their mascot because I had a terrible encounter with a duck when I was four and have disliked them ever since. (Yes, the comparison is ridiculous, but so is this fight.)
One Million Moms is encouraging people to call, write to, and visit JC Penney stores to voice their concerns over the Mother’s Day ad. The retailer has responded with a statement that reads in part, “we’re proud that our May book honors women from diverse backgrounds who all share the heartwarming experience of motherhood.”
It’s unclear how long this current campaign against JC Penney will last, but it probably won’t be the last we’ll be hearing from One Million Moms.