In defense of the Imperfect Mother

by gurumommy on June 14, 2010

in hot topics

This fascinating article in NY Times Sunday Styles last week about Elisabeth Badinter’s new book, ‘Conflict:  The Woman and the Mother’ has created quite a stir in France.  In it, Badinter seeks to defend women from the impossibility of being ‘the perfect mother’.  Her most recent battle cry: to defend women from the impossibility of being “the perfect mother,” and her latest book suggests that our desire to return to a “more natural” world distorts our views of motherhood.

“Women’s lives have grown more difficult in the last 20 years,” Ms. Badinter said in an interview. “Professional life is ever harder, ever more stressful and unattractive, and on the other hand, there is an accumulation of new moral duties weighing on women.”

Her new book, published in France, has created a stir among environmentalists, politicians, academics and mothers. In it, Ms. Badinter argues that the idealism of “green” politics and a romanticized notion of naturalism are steering women away from careers and back into the home.

“A revolution has taken place in our conception of maternity, almost without our realizing it,” she writes. And that revolution, in Ms. Badinter’s view, has reduced women’s freedom and damaged their professional prospects.

In “Le Conflit: la femme et la mère” (“Conflict: The Woman and the Mother”), she contends that the politics of the last 40 years have produced three trends that have affected the concept of motherhood, and, consequently, women’s independence. First is what she sums up as “ecology” and the desire to return to simpler times; second, a behavioral science based on ethology, the study of animal behavior; and last, an “essentialist” feminism, which praises breast-feeding and the experience of natural childbirth, while disparaging drugs and artificial hormones, like epidurals and birth control pills. Read More Here

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