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The New York Times Primal Scream Line

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

By Siga Sakho

Just recently the New York Times set up a primal scream line, created for mothers who want to vent, scream, or cry, due to the stress that the pandemic has put on them. Individuals can dial 212-556-3800, and let out all of their emotions for a minute in hopes of finding some sort of closure or simply an outlet to let everything out. Historically, mothers in America have been automatically designated the role of cleaning, cooking, and caring for children, as the term ‘stay-at-home moms’ and ‘housewives’ have been used dating back to the year 1948. Lately, since children are not going to school and everything has become virtual, many mothers have quit their jobs in order to be there for their children, increasing the gap between unemployed men and women in the workforce. With the weight of caring for their children along with many other household chores, there’s an increase in stress for many, which is why outlets such as the scream line and many more have been introduced.

On the New York Times website, it features real examples of the anger and cries of mothers throughout the U.S as their voices and feelings are finally heard for a solid minute.

"I cannot remember the last time I did not worry, I did not spend my day worrying about so much stuff. Every day is something different. I just want to wake up and go through my day and not worry, and not wonder, and not know what the future holds. Because this right here sucks. And I’m sick of it. I’m so sick of this”, says one woman from the line crying into her phone.

“This pandemic has made me realize that maybe I’m not cut out to be a mother,” says another, along with, “God, every day I think I can't do this again, but then I do. I get it, I get up and I do it. Because that's just what parents do, right?”

It's no doubt that many are feeling grief through the pandemic, especially women with children whom feel like the system has been stacked up against them.

Psychologically the scream line does have its benefits, as it will allow one to let out all of their emotions instead of keeping them bottled up inside. When looking at an article by Psychology Today, research has shown that having some sort of venting outlet will give someone a sense of equilibrium since when looking at the scientific aspect of things, one's higher neocortical functioning will go down when negative emotions are high resulting with a disoriented mental state. Once all of these feelings have been let out, the individual will be able to regain control of their mind and thus thinking more logically and clearly. The feeling of disorientation may account for why so many mothers of the scream line have such angry and unhappy feelings as their sense of control and clearness of the brain have been impaired.

Historically, women in America have been left to take care of children and their homes dating back to 1948, but the term ‘stay-at-home moms’ really took flight in the ’90s after a rise in the middle class. They are expected to clean, cook, and take care of their children sometimes even without help. Thankfully, in recent years great progress has been made and many are starting to make an appearance in the workplace, breaking down glass ceilings and making a path for more women to do the unexpected.

Nevertheless, what has been shown through the scream line has highlighted the true colors of sexism in the U.S, and how old habits and cultural norms can come back. Since children are staying home it is “expected” for women to drop out of their place of work and care for them, which can widen the gap between men and women in the workforce-reverting back to the time when fewer women were employed. When looking at statistics, it has been recorded that 46% of men in the U.S are currently employed while only 24% of all women in the U.S are still holding their jobs since the pandemic has started. These numbers representing a great divide between females and their male counterparts really go to show how many individuals are needing to give up their dreams in a sense and do what is “expected” of them by the means of society.

In the end, it is crucial that mothers in America and throughout the world are being heard, and that they have outlets and resources to do so. Sexism has been made an appearance again and again, and this pandemic has been one of these instances. Moving forward it is up to us to make sure various oppressed groups are not being overlooked nor put into a bubble of having to do a certain thing over another. It's time to leave the past in the past and allow for all to move forward.

Written by writer Siga Sakho

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