CULT OF THE MOTHER: The Golden Uterus

Dr. Tara Palmatier uses the term “Golden Uterus” in describing one kind of High Conflict Personality woman in relationships with the men she counsels, but the term applies to a wide range of behaviors and cultural conventions. That’s why it’s so useful – these behaviors and cultural conventions are so accepted and so fundamental that they didn’t have a name until she or whoever came up with this one. How fundamental? Motherhood is the basis for whole religious systems that have endured for millennia, like this one and this one and this one, not to mention this one. On that last one, look at her antecedent form – another goddess associated with snakes! The “Golden Uterus” is a perversion of all this.

The term “Golden Uterus” does not apply to the majority of mothers, the ones who raise their children with the children’s growth as their guiding principles, the mothers who gauge their success and worth as mothers by how well they wean their children, not by how tightly they cling to them and fuss over them and feed off them – you know, the mothers who want their kids to grow into healthy adults. This post isn’t about them. In fact this article aims to defend them. It points out how the Golden Uterus is a perversion and a distortion of real motherhood.

Dr. Palmatier lists the traits of a Golden Uterus. Basically they cluster under two main principles. The first principle is that the child has no existence separate from the Golden Uterus (Tender Years Doctrine). This means the Golden Uterus is the only valid parent of the child; all others, especially the father, are just adjuncts to be used instrumentally (Mommy-blocking). The child is Her possession. She respects none of the child’s boundaries. The second principle is expressed in a group of traits and behaviors that support and reinforce the first principle. Just as Her child is Her inalienable possession, so is the child’s father. Her parenthood is unique and takes precedence over everyone else’s, especially an ex-husband’s parental responsibility to his other children. She is the ultimate authority on everything to do with Her children and since Her children are unique in the universe, central in fact, She is the ultimate authority on all children and parenthood (Mother of Us All). Her feelings, Her insights, Her pronouncements, Her requirements are sacrosanct and beyond any question or criticism (Expert on Parenting, Paternity Fraud). Any criticism of them cannot be valid, it can only be an attack, a personal attack on Her, and therefore on Her children and by extension all children. To question anything She says means you hate Her children and all others, and wish them harm (Deflecting Criticism).

You think this is a parody? Start reading threads on fathers’ rights, paternity fraud, circumcision, child custody and child support, bias in the family courts, maternal gatekeeping and reflexive suspicion of fathers – anything at all to do with parenting. Those threads are lousy with this kind of thinking.

The Tender Years Doctrine – The Tender Years Doctrine is an old tradtionalist legal doctrine that comes into play during divorce and adjudication of custody of the children. It was one of the first targets of Second Wave feminism because it was a clear justificiation for chaining women to child-rearing and forcing them to stay home. The idea is that for the first years of his life a young child supposedly needs his mother more than his father, supposedly because of nursing. This claims fails to distinguish between piglets and human children, although perhaps for those making the claim there isn’t much distinction to be made. It also fails to distinguish between nurslings and older children, since there is never any provision to go back in and change child custody arrangements after the child is weaned. It’s one thing to apply this old-fahioned doctrine to a six-month-old but quite something else to assert this of a 2-year-old and truly abusive to say this of a 4-year-old. It is only recently being discarded in the family court system and I am sure there are plenty of nearly-Dead White Men on the bench who secretly still hold to this, and plenty of feminist groups that do too – NOW is the most prominent of them. (“Citations please”? If you really are asking for citations, that’s fine, but realize that you have just identified yourself as uninformed on the topic of bias in the family court system by that request and you should make ready to listen humbly.)

Mother of Us All – This meme says that women are the source of all life – you have to have stayed high all through Biology to end up this ignorant – and so She understands us all, the way a mother understands her children totally and profoundly (no real mother will do anything but laugh at this one, by the way) and we are all Her children after all. So of course She understands us better even than we do.

This is where the arrogance comes from in feminist circles; the arrogance to pronounce how men think and feel. Go look at the anti-porn discourse, on the rigidly deterministic effect porn supposedly has on making men rape in those spaces, and oh – of course if you quibble you will be excused of mansplaining – your own mind! Go back and look at articles in these sites for examples of this. Men only want custody so they can avoid child support (though of course women never want custody so they can get child support). Men invented the notion of Parental Alienation Syndrome so we, being the abusers that we all are, can continue to abuse. The list is much longer than these few examples and I am sure you can name many more examples of this kind of thinking.

The Expert on Parenting – For the Golden Uterus Her motherhood is a source of power and that power has to be defended and asserted. One way to do that is to preach to everyone else about motherhood and to browbeat them endlessly on what to and what not to do, and then to keep changing the advice so that no one but the Golden Uterus is ever completely right – compliance is the worst threat of all to her power and perfect compliance the most perfect threat because that de-centers her as the Oracle of Motherhood because it threatens to make her hectoring irrelevant.

Want to see some mud wrestling? Go check out a blog where breast feeding is the topic. The intrusion into other people’s mothering and the way it is tolerated is astounding. Do you know of any man who has ever made any comment at all about breastfeeding, other than maybe “Awwwwww…”? For men there’s no controversy, but then again we seldom set ourselves up as experts on mothering.

You even see this dynamic in discussions on circumcision, that classic women’s issue. (Not a problem in this particular instance. The salient characteristic of a useful idiot is her usefulness.)

Mommy-blocking/Maternal Gatekeeping – Mommy-blocking is when a Golden Uterus tries to block the child’s father from access to the child, most often by criticizing however a father is diapering the baby, playing with the baby, on and on and on. There is a whole literature of posts on blogs written by mothers who have caught themselves doing this after hoping their husbands would be engaged fathers, identified their inconsistency and written how stupid it is. They are not Golden Uteri, they are real mothers who really care about their children. It’s an easy difference to spot.

Paternity Fraud and Indifference to It – One big advantage that accrues to the Golden Uterus is access to resources. Fathers have to be made to support their children! And we all know how men are always trying to weasel out of all their obligations to women, errr, children! So the next step is to rope all men into supporting all children. It doesn’t matter which man gets identified as the legal father (because we are all alike if you put a bag over our faces apparently).

This is where resistance to DNA testing and the tearful imprecations that it implies a distrust of women (and what could be more unchivalrous and brutish than that?) come from. This is where the effort to brush aside all discussion of false paternity, all efforts to mischaracterize it as an abdication of paternal responsibility, and all the shaming language comes from. Recognize that those behaviors are diagnostic of a Golden Uterus and Her male enablers and protectors.

Deflecting Criticism – Naturally a position of power needs to be defended and the first step is denial that the Golden Uterus even has power. This is where all the insistence, impervious to logic or factual counter-argument, that men control everything including the family court system comes in. The next step is to invoke the deificiation of mothers so critical to consolidating the power of the Golden Uterus – the Mom and Apple Pie meme. This really comes from men. Yeah, men control the court system; that’s where the favoritism of mothers comes from. So no, Golden Uterus, you are not the voice of female empowerment.

As I said, this goes a lot deeper than one entitled mother with the entrenched power of the state and the culture behind her, so you can’t hope to win a fight on your own and it will take a lot of change before things get better. But there are some things you can do.

1. Identify and denounce the behaviors – Read Dr. Palmatier’s blog and get familiar with the behaviors, familiar enough to identify them. This isn’t so that you can discuss these behaviors rationally with a Golden Uterus, because for Her these are not subject to discussion, but so that you are clear on the extent of the struggle before you and what kind of tactics you may have to use.
2. Mommy-blocking – assert your own parenthood. “Don’t tell me how to diaper my own child – he IS my own child, right?”
3. Develop your own expertise on parenting. You would be surprised how little you have to learn to know more than most mommy-blockers. You will also be surprised to learn how easy it is to win a mommy-blocker over just by allaying her doubts. The sane ones will be glad to share authority and responsibility, or rather to relinquish your own authority back to you – as opposed to wanting your “help.”
4. Paternity fraud – DNA testing still carries no weight in most jurisdictions, but men are starting to win some of these cases and states are beginning to honor DNA findings. It is only preliminary and there is nothing systemic to this progress yet, but every win makes it that much easier for the next guy.
5. Some feminist talking points are useful. Learn which ones are, use them and use them to defeat the others which aren’t.

14 thoughts on “CULT OF THE MOTHER: The Golden Uterus

  1. Awesome post. You know I’ve been waiting for it, right? I’m sick today so I don’t have energy to write much and reading too much makes me nauseous but I did make a related comment on another gender related blog. Consider this copy paste a primer for a better (and more on topic) post from me later or tomorrow (when I feel better). Of course I am interested in what others have to say too.

    “From where I stand it’s the mothers who exclude the fathers in social parenting groups. Fathers simply (and of course not always, for everybody, everywhere…just a trend) are not wanted in mothers groups. It’s a turf thing. It’s insisting that mothers are better. End of story. Dad is the babysitter not a parent, type of shit. Want this to change? Get mothers to stop guarding their privileged parental status.

    I am a stay at home dad who’s been glared at by mothers when I tried to enter their circle. It sucks for me, but it also sucks for my kids who just want to make friends. There’s two issues at play. The mommy is better angle but there’s also the angle that I (since I am a man) just want to get into the mothers’ pants. That any talk of children is simply a pick-up technique or some shit.

    I’m sick tonight but if anyone has any questions about being a stay at home dad I will answer them as best I can. I’m in no condition to parse through 20 posts with 78 paragraphs though. It’s just that I keep reading things about my situation. You all can stop guessing and simply ask me.”

    I think the GU comes into play when GU’s are part of this mother circle and sort of act as the gatekeepers on behalf of all the other moms.

  2. Start putting a post together. Just start putting it together, if only in your head. Suggestion: source a bunch of anti-mommy-blocking articles from women, a lot of examples of discrimination against SAHD dads by busybody bystanders with their filthy suspicions. Big research project, very important post. You have allies; they are out there. That post will bring them out.

  3. I’m going to have to take it slow and do one step at a time. And again, I am not exactly sure how this relates to the GU except maybe why GU are what they are and why some people don’t want to call them out.

    Like most people I check various websites on a daily (or almost daily) basis. One is ( ). All good but if I click on any of the links it takes me to a place called “momformation”. Another site I check is MSNBC but if I click on a parenting article it brings me to this place called “TODAYMoms”. I go to the supermarket to be met with signs about “busy moms”. While there I flip though Parenting Magazine and there’s exactly two paragraphs written by a dad in the entire magazine. Most times it’s a lighthearted goofy story about being a doofus or scared first time dad. There’s articles on make-up, fertility, breastfeeding, cooking, (all fine things) but it’s all geared for women. Just look at the web site ( ) and you can tell by the color scheme and images it’s for women. (yes, I took marketing in grad school)

    There’s also a thing called “MOMCongress”.

    Again, this is fine except notice the language used:

    “Over the three days, the Mom Congress delegates will hear from and connect with the nation’s leading education experts and moms from across the country who are putting in the same long hours to improve our schools and ensure a great future for our kids.”

    I guess moms are on the same level as experts (by default) and dads are simply ignored.

    Anyway enough for now…but my point is that the media enables and encourages the GU, often at the expense of dads.

  4. Debaser, what you are talking about is the GU phenomenon taken from the personal level that I am talking about and then generalized as a gender role in the culture. That is wirth another post, probably on mommy-blocking as an organizing priniciple in the culture

  5. “But only in name.”

    Namae nanka, the core contradiction in 2nd Wave feminism was the glib euqation of gender equality with women’s advocacy. That eqaution depended on damseling, a feature of chivalry that 2WF inveighed against and supposedly detested, which led it to selectively frame of gender oppression so that it focused attention on oppressions that womenn experience and denied atention to those men experience. Once that hypocrisiy was in place all the others followed.

    BTW I have always been intrigued by your screen name. What’s the origin?

  6. Very interesting article and yet another good example of the feminist double standard that glares like the sun to anyone having even a basic intelligence and willingness to take a fair look. I did find myself curious about your take on the percentage of GU’s in the general population. How prevalent do you think they are?

    I was a SAHD in the 1980′s when my wife and I decided to both go part-time and insure that at least one of us was around our kids all the time. It worked out very, very well. Things were much different then. Maybe better in some ways since the feminists were more on the grass roots stage rather then in our government as they are now. The experience was surely the best part of my life. I got to know my daughter and son in a way that I would never be able to if I had not been so present in their lives. My heart breaks for men and their children, who don’t get this opportunity. Separating a man from his children is far worse than cruel and unusual punishment. It is deadly. We are idiots to let this happen. And, of course, a part of why we let it happen is the old GU. Go figure.

  7. “Separating a man from his children is far worse than cruel and unusual punishment. It is deadly.”

    The UN recocitation for that, recognizes parenting as a fundamental human right. I need to go find the citation for that, but it’s in some major charter they adopted a couple three decades ago.

    The 80s were a long time ago. Feminism was more grass-roots and broad-based back then, and so feminists were more humane. What you find now is a church with rigid, undemionstrated dogmas – “male privilege”, “rape culture” and a professional activist class that mirrors the penetration of the Religious right into politics and institutions. that’s the change you see.

  8. Great article. Just wanted to add that Naomi Wolf has recently declared that porn is harmful, because it makes men uninterested in sex with real women. And of course back in the day, she was one who claimed porn makes men uncontrollable rapists.

    Of course, the irony is no doubt lost on this one.

  9. “Just wanted to add that Naomi Wolf has recently declared that porn is harmful, because it makes men uninterested in sex with real women.

    Yes she does, but in a measured way.
    She says “Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer.”

    Hallelujah – equality! Porn is leveling the playing field. It gets better:

    ” By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale.”

    Sex no longer traded as a commodity. The end of sexual objectification. Hallelujah.

    “If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up”

    As opposed to the poor-quality material previously available? I’m still not seeing the downside, Naomi. It seems to me that Naomi is saying that uinder these conditions the quality of the real thing is being driven up by competition.

    Anyway, porn and rape, thanks for the hat tip on that one.

  10. The thing you overlook is the pressure on mothers from the other Golden Uteri. This makes us frantic and confused. They will BLACKLIST you and your child, really. They will decide that if you do something that makes you a “bad mother”–you are like a cancer that must be excised. The big bad thing *I* did was put my daughter on birth control pills when she was 16. Jokey version is here: but rest assured, I know I prayed for her to get her period even more than SHE did. LOL.

    After this incident, the “good girls” were forbidden to hang out with my daughter, even those goody-goodies who had been her friends! She was put on some invisible bad-girl-of-bad-mama master list, that I never even knew existed.

    Thing is, these suburban moms said I was encouraging her to have sex by putting her on the pill (which she needed my legal permission for). I answered, hello, she is ALREADY having sex. Well, they said, you have to stop her, not give your blessing. I told them that video store guy (see post) did NOT have my blessing, I had screamed and hollered and… apparently, she was not listening.

    Now, should I keep screaming and hollering or get a grip?

    They just shook their heads and assured me THEIR daughters “know who they are” and don’t have to do such things as climb out of windows at night to meet punk rockers working at the video store. In fact, I know I must have heard that term, “my kids know who they are”–about two dozen times, no exaggeration. I finally asked my husband WTF “know who they are” is supposed to mean, he says it meant their MOMS thought they “knew who they are”–and it did not refer to the kids self-awareness at all.

    In any event, I learned about the boundaries-thing you describe, at this time. I don’t think these moms had any clue what their kids were really doing or thinking, but they sure believed they did. And I knew better, so they had to punish me (and my daughter) for it.

    Golden Uteri are a pain in the ass, pardon mixed metaphors!

  11. “The thing you overlook is the pressure on mothers from the other Golden Uteri. This makes us frantic and confused. They will BLACKLIST you and your child, really. ”

    I mentioned that in passing but didn’t go into in any detail and it really merits a whole separate post. It’s a huge subject. It’s not just the Mommy Wars but the whole issue of poeple within a gender using the gender rules to dominate others in that group.

    “Now, should I keep screaming and hollering or get a grip?”

    My favorite line from the Color Puprle was “He ain’t worf it, girl, he ain’t worf it!” Did that keep you out of jail too? Because that’s what it would have taken with me.

    And those clueless mothers – it is precisely the goody-two-shoes who are down at the skate park giving headjobs in the bushes. And spreading chlamydia that way.

    “Golden Uteri are a pain in the ass, pardon mixed metaphors!”

    I understand that vaginal sex immediately after anal sex without cleaning properly can lead to runaway lethal infections. And they say there is no justice……

  12. I could only imagine if I brought my daughter to the doctor to get birth control pills. They’d assume it’s because I’m raping her. They’d find my chest hairs on her clothes or something.

    Just wanted to pipe in to add other Mommy-mag to my list. In the NY Times the parenting section is called, “The Motherlode”. And it’s in the “style” section…

    It’s “moms matter, dads babysit”. Thanks. At the time I type this there is one article written by a man and it’s about teenage driving. A valid topic but IMO very stereotypical dad thing to do.

  13. Hi ya’ll… I just came across this blog after discovering the term Golden Uterus while researching how to deal with my husband’s ex… Freaking insane, that’s what these people are. She turned his whole family (his own parents!) against him!! Now Im raving about what an awesome husband and father he is, and everyone thinks “Oh he must have changed…” while her blatant manipulating and controlling behaviors and condescending words continue… anyhoo, the article below obviously doesnt apply to all men or women, but my husband certainly has a different parenting style…AND I APPRECIATE IT! As the article states, he is more in the moment which is good for me to remember (ie RAM DAAS Be Here Now!), he reminds me of the importance of family time over clean house, and his playfulness lightens my spirit… I wish there were more men like him!

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