Once a put-down, then a song title, now a movie, the moniker "Baby Mama" sent politicos scrambling for their urban dictionaries after Fox News called Michelle Obama one in an on-screen graphic this month. Although a Fox senior veep later excused the move as "poor judgment," many people saw it as a racist slap or downright inaccurate. (Which it was on both counts, if you ask me, considering the source.)
For the record, courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary, a baby mama is "the mother of a man's child, who is not his wife or his current or exclusive partner." In other words a … ho.
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Originated in Jamaican Creole, the term dates back to the 1960s and, more often than not, it's been used rather unkindly, latent with negative connotations and the stigma associated with unwed motherhood. (True to History of Sexism 101, "baby daddy" qualifies to most as a badge of pride, not a put-down.) American hip-hop culture latched onto the name in 2000 after Outkast dedicated the song "Ms. Jackson" to "all the baby mamas' mamas." American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino released the song "Baby Mama" four years later.
Tina Fey whitewashed the term this year with her comedy film "Baby Mama" about a single career woman who hires a ditzy blonde to be a surrogate mother. The tabloids have helped strip the sting by applying the term to unwed celebrities.
The title now muddles in the murky waters of endearment/insult, depending upon who utters it. Fox clumsily waded into the middle of the muck, thinking it was hip and funny, but emerging with mud on its face. (Would the network call Laura Bush "George's Baby Mama?")
Is it time to seize this name and de-fang it, much like gays did decades ago with the word "queer?" We're here. We're Baby Mamas. Get used to it.
It sure beats being called a housewife.