Real live mama grizzly bears and their cubs may soon lose the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Yet, this Mother's Day, it's a pregnant, stuffed bear that's prompted a righteous editorial. Vermont Teddy Bear Co. is selling a "Bear-foot and Pregnant" teddy bear, which has inspired an unsigned Op-Ed in the Vermont Guardian denouncing it.
"The new cuddly, released just in time for Mother's Day, features a cute, round, shoeless bear dressed in perky maternity top and blue jeans, and carrying an ice cream cone crowned with a pickle. Benign enough. But the creature's moniker is not," writes the paper in a piece called "Don't grin and bear it."
"For many women, the phrase 'barefoot and pregnant' remains a potent reminder of a very recent societal expectation that they stay in their place -- the home -- and quietly reproduce. The company's response that it is 'reclaiming' the phrase is nothing but an excuse to justify its socially irresponsible marketing decision."
Reminding us that women still face barriers on the path to full equality, the Vermont paper defends its decision to rail against a stuffed animal: "Poking fun at these challenges allows young women to laugh them away as somehow irrelevant. But ignoring these hard-won rights certainly will make them go away. Are we taking a teddy bear too seriously? No. Viewing such challenges through cutesy images and Vaseline-smeared lenses dumbs down our sensibilities at a time when women need to stay sharp and smart."
Personally, I find it hard to get worked up about a teddy bear, even one that offers a cheesy, winking take on a retrograde slogan. Clearly, Vermont Teddy Bear Co.'s customers do not share the Vermont Guardian's outrage. On the company's Web site, the "Bear-foot and Pregnant" bear is sold out.