Are Power Moms The New Gays?

Essay: 'Brigitte Mom' is a new German magazine for the post-modern mother, who the publishers want us to believe are the hippest urban creatures since upwardly mobile gays and lesbians.

Mutter or Mom? (Indy Charlie)
Mutter or Mom? (Indy Charlie)
Andrea Fischer

ZURICH - A new German magazine called Brigitte Mom has just made its appearance at newsstands. It's a chic little publication aimed at a new species: mothers who are happy, confident and in step with the times – women, in other words, who aren't very mother-like. As such, these hip modern women aren't content to go by the name "mutter" or "mutti," the German words for mother. Instead they prefer the English term: "Mom."

A typical Mom also has a lot of money, which is why an awful lot of things are invented just for her. Buying these pricey products will make her feel even more special. Being a Mom, in other words, is not only something worth striving for. It's what everybody envies, at least that's what the new magazine seems to convey.

So just how do a bunch of over-tired, sexually frustrated housewives and working mothers suddenly turn into Moms? Here's the way it works. You buy Brigitte Mom (the motto of which is "You are my one, but not my everything" and I swear I'm not making that up), read it cover to cover and then get down to the business of imitating everything it says.

"Moms' just seem so much classier

There's nothing tacky like free sachets of shampoo glued to the pages of this magazine, although there is a contest and if you're the lucky winner you get to have a housekeeper's salary paid for a whole year. The editorial is also encouraging, particularly the thing about how it's preferable to "live imperfectly." Yes! Mabye this is the magazine for me. Lured in, I'm feeling pretty upbeat now as I leaf through to find out how to be a classy imperfect mother. After all, I already know how to be an un-classy one.

I read about single mothers who say not having a husband is sexy. Okay. Moving on. On page 21 I see a picture of pink soap shaped like a pistol. It only costs 15 euros, and it supposedly makes little boys really eager to wash their hands. Uh-huh. After that, pages of pictures of particularly beautiful women, more advertising and then some sweet stories themed around everything from adoption to falling down the stairs. Bottom line: it's really exciting to be a Mom.

But my favorite part is about what Moms wear at home and at work. The fashion shots don't actually seem to make much of a difference between home-wear and work-wear: Mom is wearing a silk outfit at home, leggings by Hugo Boss at what looks like her artist's studio where I spot three toys on the floor! I am so happy. I've found the hidden classy imperfection thing – it's something they do in the regular Brigitte for normal women, too, a publication much read by my non-Mom mother. They'll say something like: "We've hidden a mouse somewhere on this page, can you find it?" Only here, it's not a mouse, it's imperfection.

There's more imperfection to be found near the center of the magazine too: nestled in among tips for buying mood teas, a designer food-dispensing spoon for babies, and a seriously large family car is an article about some poor mother in jail and a pop-psych piece about sex (or lack thereof) in the weeks and months after childbirth. Framing these little excursions into real life is an ad for a cream that makes tummies flat and taut.

Please don't box me in

So now I know what I need to wear and buy to turn myself from a normal mother into a Mom. And I'm getting a feeling of déjà vu. Years ago, when it had finally become socially acceptable to be gay, a way of living was also suddenly transformed into a lifestyle, at least in big cities. The Gay Lifestyle: happy, confident, in step with the times, and of course everybody had plenty of money. It was so chic. Half the non-gay men in Zurich were tapping into the lifestyle. I didn't have any particular problem with it, except that I noticed it didn't have a lot to do with reality – including the reality of most homosexuals.

Please, don't get your knickers in a twist. I know you can't really compare Gays and Moms. It's not the same thing at all. Motherhood has never been illegal, and women have never been ostracized for being mothers -- at least not if they had a marriage license. They were just relegated to the kitchen and considered stupid.

But this Mom-Gay thing isn't about who, when or how someone was unfairly treated; that's a whole other can of worms. It's about not feeling like climbing into a compartment filled with all the stuff that's been created for me as a member of a new species just so I can buy it. Not only that, but I'm supposed to smile as I step into it! I want that as little as most homosexuals, career women, singles, atheists, teenagers, house-husbands, hobby cooks, female fish farmers - you name it - feel like climbing into the compartments created for them, or at least I hope so.

Read the original story in German

Photo - Indy Charlie

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food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

Inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum

Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan

photo of  ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola,

The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan

Dai He/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.

In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.

The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.

Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.

photo of rocks and trees in Gettysburg

View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA


Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!

The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.

Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.

Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain

photo of sunset of old Belchite

Old Belchite, Spain

Belchite Town Council

Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…

That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.

Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.

If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.

Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan

photo of Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) i

Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Chris Bradley/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.

The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.

Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."

Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.

Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden

a photo of The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden


After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).

Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.

Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia

a photo of ort Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Flickr/Eli Duke

During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.

Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.

Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy

a photo of Poveglia Island, Italy

Poveglia Island, Italy

Mirco Toniolo/ROPI via ZUMA Press

Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).

During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.

In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.

Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.

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