When running for public office in her home city of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Le’Dor Milteer thought, “How much harder can this be than the PTA?” As it turned out, it was a lot harder. Sure, she was prepared to deal with biases against her race and gender on the campaign trail, but she was not prepared for people to attack her motherhood. “These questions were not about policy, or fighting for the things that you believed in, or how you felt about different issues, or some of the things you wanted to see in the community,” she explained. “These questions were about my kids.”
Bravo caught wind of the conundrum and reached out to Le’Dor with an enticing offer: to guise herself as a man for an entire year. The series In a Man’s World, executive produced by Viola Davis, follows four women as they lead their lives as men. For Le’Dor, that meant running for office as “Roy.”
The transformations went far beyond the prosthetics, makeup and fake facial hair. They hired voice coaches and movement coaches. “They should’ve hired me a psychiatrist,” she laughed. “Sometimes I would second guess myself. The transformation was, you know, seeing me,” she paused, then comically proclaimed, “I had a penis! I couldn’t cross my legs and I didn’t walk the same.”
But living as Roy became emotionally taxing and Le’Dor’s eyes were opened to the idea of “mom bias.” “They would never ask a man, ‘how is it that you’re going to be able to work and also be there for you kids?’” she explained. “I didn’t want to admit that that’s another issue women had to fight for.” Le’Dor discussed that this problem of mom guilt in professional settings needs to stop, but it starts with a conversation.
Not enough women are speaking out about being judged for working and being a mother, oftentimes the conversation focuses on topics like equal pay and sexual harassment. While those topics are important, Le’Dor believes motherhood shouldn’t be ignored. “Let’s talk about motherhood on the job as well. Let’s talk about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to talk about and what is it that we see a lack of,” Le’Dor explained. “Mom bias leads to mom guilt… This is a complete systematic issue that we need to deal with in the community, on our jobs, and in our family as well.”
The In A Man’s World star also made sure to mention the lovely team of producers she worked with, all of whom were women. Working on the show, Le’Dor explained, proved that mothers can come together, do productive work, and get done what needs to get done all while children are present. One of the producers took it upon herself to help Le’Dor out and change her daughter’s diaper. “This was something that was so intimate,” she said endearingly. When looking back on the experience of working with an all-female team, she noted, “It was something I am so privileged to have experienced in my lifetime.”
Le’Dor is a firm believer in the power of womanhood and of motherhood. Women can do things just as good, if not better than their male counterparts and stigma should never hold us back. “Own your womanhood. Wear it like a badge of honor. Own your momhood. Wear it like a badge of honor,” she declared. “There is no problem with me because I’m a woman. I’m not less than. I’m not asking to be here, I deserve to be here. The moment we own our womanhood and own our motherhood, then I think that everyone else will fall into place.”