Mothering

The mother of all lies

The New York Times whacked a small beehive recently with its Room for Debate column.  Taking off from French Feminist Elisabeth Badinter’s new book “The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women,” the Times asked seven women to respond to the following questions:  “Has women’s obsession with being the perfect mother destroyed feminism?  In particular, has this trend of ‘attachment parenting’ been bad for working moms?”

The responses of the seven were enlightening, mostly because not one of them attempted to answer the first question.  Maybe they just thought it was dumb.  I know I do.  The answer is clearly “no.”  Even if women generally have an “obsession” with being “the perfect mother,” an assertion for which there is no evidence, feminism is all too obviously alive and kicking.  And it will be, long after the current fad of attachment parenting has become a distant memory.

But far more interesting than the short pieces in the Times is the snit the whole column has created in the print and electronic media.  To many of those writers, the very idea that there’s a conflict between feminism and motherhood is anathema.  So Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com weighed in with an article entitled “The NYT’s Ridiculous Motherhood Debate.”  Not to be outdone, Lisa Solod’s piece in the Huffington Post countered with “The Fake Fight Between (sic) Women and How It Will Hurt Us All,” in which she shouted “Motherhood vs. Feminism?  Give me a break.”

For both Williams and Solod, even to ask the question was offensive.  Unlike the Times writers, to them the answer to the question is obvious; there is no conflict between feminism and motherhood.  Many mothers are feminists, after all.

Too bad they neglected to read the title of Badinter’s book that set the entire debate raging, much less the book itself.  She, after all, sees a very distinct “conflict” between the feminist holy grail of work, commercial and intellectual power on one hand, and motherhood and domestic power on the other.

Far worse, Williams and Solod seem not to know the history of feminism.  If they do, they’re at pains to hide the fact.  Have these two feminists truly not read the seminal books of the Second Wave feminist canon?  The Second Sex?  The Feminine Mystique?  What about virtually anything ever written by Catharine MacKinnon?  Or Badinter for that matter.

If they had, they’d know that for decades, feminists have proclaimed the family to be the seat of the oppression of women.  Badinter says as much herself: “The best allies of men’s dominance have been, quite unwittingly, innocent infants.”  But at that, she was only channeling Simone de Beauvoir who famously stigmatized a mother’s choice to stay home and raise her children as possibly criminal.  Bette Friedan agreed, likening home and family to a prison.

Those scarcely exhaust the list of feminists who have successfully tried to make domestic life (including a husband) seem like a threat to women’s physical and psychological well-being.  But suffice it to say that Badinter’s claims fall squarely within mainstream feminism as it’s been practiced for well over fifty years – children are the enemies of women.

So why would Williams and Solod be so desperate to pretend that so much feminist writing simply doesn’t’ exist, that there is in fact no conflict between motherhood and feminism? And why would they believe they could wish away that conflict as simply as Dorothy clicking her ruby slippers together?   Whatever the answer, their pretense is also part of mainstream feminism – the intellectual dishonesty part.

A lack of basic honesty has dogged feminism at least since the 1960s and continues to this day.  Examples are too numerous to detail, but some writers like Christina Hoff Sommers, Daphne Patai and Carolyn Graglia have developed a small cottage industry devoted to debunking some of the more laughable instances of feminist mendacity.  From made-up facts (Steinem: 150,000 women and girls die of anorexia each year; Brownmiller: only 2% of rape claims are fabricated), to vanishing research data (Carol Gilligan’s “data” on girls in school never saw the light of day) to outright lies (women don’t commit domestic violence; parental alienation is a plot by fathers to steal children), the dark side of feminism is littered with the type of intellectual dishonesty that would get a high school sophomore expelled.

Thus Williams’ and Solod’s claim that there’s no conflict between feminism and motherhood takes its place within the hoariest traditions of feminism –  public anti-intellectualism.  But sadly for them, hiding crazy Aunt Sally in the attic isn’t easy, try as they might.  For far too long, far too many people have noticed the side of feminism that calls motherhood a betrayal of women.

It’s always been feminism’s Achilles heel.  Take on motherhood and you’re fighting a bear; it’s a fight you’re likely to lose.  And that, I suspect is the answer to my question about what Williams and Solod are up to when they seek to deny the plain conflict between feminism and motherhood.

The desire by women to conceive, carry, give birth to and care for children is one of the most powerful motivations we humans are heir to.  It won’t be undone by those for whom every urge, regardless of how good and natural, is really just the social construct of an evil patriarchy.  Not surprisingly, the desire to mother hasn’t withered away, but has remained vital and alive despite the hostility of feminism.  We can expect that to continue.

However much Williams, Solod and their sisters in arms may wish to deny the fact, feminism and motherhood have long been on a collision course.  The natural, and I would argue inevitable, solution is for feminism to yield to avoid its own destruction.  Indeed, that’s what we’re already seeing.  The seven NYT writers discuss motherhood a great deal, feminism barely at all.  Sensible observers note that legitimate feminism seeks to free women to make choices equally with men, and the choice to procreate and care for one’s young is one of those choices.

Feminism went down the wrong road when it proclaimed motherhood, home and family to be bad for women.  Countless women know that road to be a dead end.  It’s not their fault that Williams and Solod find themselves at the road’s end wondering where to go next.

 

  • Arvy

    Basically, it comes down to the fact that feminism has developed largely as a rejection of women’s traditional familial responsibilities for homemaking and caregiving. How, then, could the “feminist holy grail of work, commercial and intellectual power ” not produce an inherent conflict with their motherhood role.

    The primary victims of that conflict are chidren, of course. Men are merely diversionary targets, especially when they themselves proclaim any concerns for those primary victims. They must not be allowed to be seen as more responsible parents, even when they are.

  • napocapo69

    “Even if women generally have an “obsession” with being “the perfect mother,”….really?
    Well most of the women I’ve met, do not have at all this obsession. Actually most of them do not care at all. Some of them realize they “like” to become mothers, because it is another opportunity, a traditional one, usually very late if they are in careeer; at that point the try to enforce in relationship a mate that should work as contingency plan in case they lose the job.
    This mate may be the government soon or later.

  • Rper1959

    Feminism is well advanced in it plans to destroy the traditional family, and the momentum pushes ahead already past the point of no return, with men avoiding marriage and going their own way. The victims of this trend : social cohesion and our greatest assets for the future, our children. Motherhood and feminism are incompatible – instinctive care and nurturing for the good of family and community in not compatible with selfish, individual pursuit of power for it own sake.

  • Zorro

    Related:

    http://www.lifesite.net/news/the-asian-tiger-japan-is-in-danger-of-extinction#

    The Soshuku Danshi strikes!

    Japanese women are not having babies.

    I soooooo wonder why!

    • Rad

      Your attitude about Japan assumes that the women are desperate to have babies but can’t because men are not participating. Perhaps that is the narrative you want to believe in, but it is not supported by the facts.

      Men and women are both making choices. As more and more women entered the workplace in Japan, they took on the same responsibilities as men (for the most part).

      Work hours here are long, generally. I believe the statistics say that Americans work the most hours a week, but those hours only exist on paper. Japanese people, in general, not as exceptions, work past their contracted hours. None of this goes recorded in their paper society, although everyone knows this and accepts it.

      Women and men both stay late. Depending on the career, there is not a lot of leisure time. You might get off during New Years holidays, or during Golden Week, that’s it. Most careers are for “life” in Japan. Many careers involve uprooting yourself and moving to a new place on a regular basis. These circumstances are not conducive to cultivating romantic relationships, but when it was only the man doing it, it was possible. But with both sexes doing it, makes it even more difficult, especially for women since they will have to bear the child.

      There is nothing wrong with a declining population. Especially in a place like Japan, where the high population density is in reality even higher, since there are so many uninhabitable mountain areas that ought to be subtracted from the total land area wen making a comparison to other, much flatter nations.

      Now, individuals will continue make choices as to what is best for them, and only statists find this to be a major problem because it affects their capacity to maintain power and administer a welfare state as tax “revenues” dwindle. Without a welfare state in place, there is no danger posed by population decline. It should be expected to go down as people manage their choices more carefully in this economy, in fact in better economic times population would at least level off as the middle class became, fractionally speaking, bigger and bigger.

      That “no countries survived a large population decline” in that article is an extremely vacuous comment. True or not, in reality, the population decline in whatever examples you want to bring up were just a SYMPTOM of the real cause, which was the attempt to maintain a bloated form of governance.

      What is actually going on in Japan is that economics is revealing the unpalatability of the duty-ethic everyone subscribes to. Bull markets masked the pain, but the last 20 years have made this inescapable. Individuals are unwilling to live up to their social roles when there is no reward for them. And…the Japanese government wants more money, it turned off all the nuclear reactors. Rotating blackouts will be coming this summer. These are not circumstances that encourage growth. Not economic growth, and not production — including reproduction.  

      Men are quietly rejecting the duty-ethic because the prospective pain is larger than ever. But women who arrived on the career scene relatively recently are realizing just how shitty a deal the men had and are finding their own ways to escape or to manage their situation. Part of that is having less or no children, or never marrying, or simply committing fully to their careers because they see no way to find a middle ground.

      • Muk

        Totally agree.
        Peak oil/coal/uranium
        Peak water
        Infertile land due to low levels of phosphorous
        Over-fished waters
        Destroyed forests
        are all symptoms of one problem:
        TOO MANY FUCKING HUMANS

        • Rad

          I am not a population alarmist, and I would frame your statement in a different way: not enough freedom.

          Controls and regulations have arrested development of technologies and cultural growth. Most of the laws intended to protect the environment have actually been damaging because they limit the capacity to act on one’s own thinking, in other words, they diminish the rewards of hard work and ingenuity.

          When the rewards are diminished or cut-off (or vilified, like “profit” is most cultures), the incentive to innovate is also cut off, and we remain stuck with the technologies we currently have, instead of growing through a necessary phase of development, into to something better.

          Freedom results in a broad middle-class with ever-rising standards of living. And people with higher standards of living tend to have less children.

          • Poester99

            I would posit that the problem is with the devaluing of motherhood, not societal development per se.

        • Teerex

          If you live in a city, and you probably do, watch this and then go for about a 1500 mile drive in your car.

          • Kimski

            This video is absolutely correct in it’s statement about overpopulation.

            The problem is, that we as humans tend to populate areas where the living conditions are the best, i.e. the food supplies are the easiest to get to, and the temperatures are reasonable.

            There are still very large areas of the planet that has almost no people living there. Think about the tundras in Russia and Alaska as an example. Or the huge forests in the northwest territory of Canada and South America. That goes for the deserts of Sahara and Australia, too.

            The Russian and Mongolian steppes could easily house every single citizen in Europe, and you wouldn’t meet another person for days, maybe weeks, if they were scattered all over the place.

            Also, 75% of the planets surface are covered with water, and taken to the extreme there should be no bigger problems with populating the coastal areas too. Think ‘Waterworld’ on a smaller scale. Venice has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is possible, and it would give people living there easy access to food supplies from the sea.

            On Greenland there used to be ice all over the place, but now they’re raising cattle in the south, due to the warming of the planet. Who knows, maybe we’ll be seeing people living in the Antarctic or the northern ice cap, which of course wouldn’t be there anymore, before this is over.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_population_density_1994.png

      • Poester99

        Something is broken in a society when you’re working so hard that you don’t have the time, inclination or money for the innate biological imperative to procreate.

        The problem is not that this ends as a slight clearing of an oppressive overpopulation in a small space. The problem is that there will no people at all in 50-70 years. Some people seem to be fine with the default position of misanthropy that backs up this race to extinction, but I (and most others) actually see something of value in our continued existence.

        • ThoughtCriminal

          Word.

        • Rad

          Well, I don’t work so hard and I have no desire for kids.

          I am not an animal, I choose my own values. And regardless of what kind of world you live in, there will be people will to make choices to forgo kids, and/or a romantic relationship and work more, maybe simply because they enjoy their work and the challenge it presents more than anything else — maybe much of their work is also their leisure time.

          That doesn’t mean they are attempting prevent others from procreating, others can make their own decisions. Let’s not package-deal an individual choices to not have kids with a “hatred of humanity”.

          • Mingtian

            “I am not an animal, I choose my own values.”
            Well, humans are animals, so yeah you are.

      • Mingtian

        “Your attitude about Japan assumes that the women are desperate to have babies but can’t because men are not participating.”
        I don’t think that’s what Zorro meant. Japanese women aren’t having kids because they’ve been told to get into careers which makes them have children later on in life or none at all. The men have little to do with it.

    • Sad Dad

      I read that article on the Japanese not having babies, not once was it mentioned that the Japanese women stay with their husbands until the husband retires.

      Japanese women live lavished lives alone because their husbands work so many hours, when their husbands retire their selfish wives divorce them and take them for all their worth becasuse they want to continue to live alone. And the Japanese men are on to it. Did they mention this? No, I think not! Don’t you think this would have a huge impact on Japanese population?

    • Not buying it

      This link you posted is not necessarily pro men’s rights it’s more along the lines of men should be getting married & having children right wing propaganda.

      I don’t have anything against the idea of shacking up per say necessarily but not according to the current civil laws that govern male & female domestic relationships as a matter of fact I am hoping the same catastrophic population condition should occur here in the west & the sooner it happens the better, it will force the powers that be to see feminism dogma as what it really is a suicidal ideology.

      You & all the guys on this site & sites like it are my brothers in arms , Zorro

      • BeijaFlor

        In my opinion, there is no “pro men’s rights” choice available to the average poor married-for-now schlub.

        The only one I rescue by staying single, keeping my “wick” dry and lonely, and splooging my baby-batter into a folded sacrificial T-shirt instead of a wet and “hungry” vagina … is my own sorry self.

        I would welcome the woman I have “deprived of Motherhood” to come and shake my freshly-washed hand. Then just go the hell away.

  • http://www.bcdads.com bcdad666

    “Sensible observers note that legitimate feminism seeks to free women to make choices equally with men, and the choice to procreate and care for one’s young is one of those choices.”

    Truly sensible observers would note that men have little or no choice in procreation and caring for their young. The inescapable conclusion is that legitimate feminism would be calling for reproductive, parenting and equal rights for men.

  • re-construct

    Mr Franklin, I recall admiring yer work back in the old mensnewsdailly forum.
    It seems modern Gender-feminists are trying desperately to hide the fact that todays gender-feminism is not yer mothers “equality feminism” of 30 years ago.
    Even some who call themselves MRA’s don’t want to realize what some conservative women have already realized …….”Who stole feminism”.

    • Mingtian

      “It seems modern Gender-feminists are trying desperately to hide the fact that todays gender-feminism is not yer mothers “equality feminism” of 30 years ago.”

      Haha, it was never truly about “equality”

  • BioCan

    I occasionally visit the New York Times website every now and then and I am always disappointed when I see articles invoking conflicts between the genders. Gender politics and articles related to that subject usually accumulate several hundred comments and plenty of hits so I would assume it’s an efficient method of generating revenue from their users when one brings such an emotional and heated topic to the debate. The problem with those articles is that there are several sweeping statements or generalizations made about both genders in them. There is little room for actual objectivity or factual analysis. They resemble a literary analysis of a book more than something that is truly believable.

    For example, if a statement is made against one gender it is not supported by facts and it can typically solicit the response:

    “That statement can be made about the other gender as well therefore the argument is not sound.”

    It’s only an author’s perspective, which doesn’t hold much weight in my opinion. I don’t really see any articles relating to the rights of men as opposed to articles related to feminism on the NYT, which are written by feminists. But, doesn’t that present a bias? How would an article written by a feminist present a problem related to the equality of both genders, which the moderate ones claim to support, when it is written in the pro-female perspective?

    And, those who criticize that point of view on the “Comment” section are quickly shunned by others claiming to be feminists. Why create an article meant to foster debate when most of the other points being made are quickly dismissed as being misogynistic or hateful. It’s just anti-academic rubbish that cannot be proved wrong or falsifiable. The people who push this ideology adopt a “holier than though” attitude and crush opposing intellectuals like tyrants. They resort to ad hominem attacks against people who try to debate them. It’s appalling.

  • Skeptic

    Women are obsessed with being the ‘perfect mother’.

    Really?

    Like the millions who abort kids?

    • Rad

      Yeah, kids are eating popsicles and jumping rope in those wombs. It’s just their first bedroom.

      • http://www.avoiceformen.com Dr. F

        Rad,

        What a very strange thing you said here.

        I like it.

  • http://www.avoiceformen.com Dr. F

    If feminism is the “great lie” then it’s just like that pig that flies.

    This pig is a monster. It’s wings fuck the sun off and you can bet any of it’s many snouts will be gouging and snuffling in a trough near you.

    Football matches, milk cartons, fire stations, TV adverts and shows, billboards, hospitals, schools… bloody hell, where will I ever see the end of this list ?

    So yes, motherhood of course will be “snouted” just as fatherhood, adulthood, aunthood, bachelorhood, boyhood, brotherhood, childhood, grandparenthood, knighthood, maidenhood, manhood, monkhood, the neighborhood, parenthood, priesthood, servanthood, sisterhood, sonhood, spinsterhood, statehood, toddlerhood, victimhood, widowerhood, widowhood, wifehood and womanhood are.

    The likelihood is that the snout is in our entire livelihood, but take heart because things are changing.

    Misandric blogs normally unchallenged are met with a flurry of discontent and sexist TV adverts are getting pulled. Posters from Swedish furniture manufacturers are being defaced and sites of a questioning nature are popping up in record numbers.

    Even the MSM is printing articles on the internet and seen in newsagents that would never be done just a few short years ago.

    It’s really important we see the damage done, and it’s life affirming knowing the time of picking daisies on a sunny day has now been spent.

    • BeijaFlor

      Maidenhood?

      MAIDENHOOD???!!!

      Dear Colleague Dr. F …

      I was gobsmacked with a salty mackerel when I spotted that moniker in your post.

      It reminded me IMMEDIATELY of the second song in the original production of Lerner & Loewe’s musical, “Camelot” … where Guenevere, played by Julie Andrews, sang the following plaint:

      Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?
      Where are all those adoring daring boys?
      Where’s the knight pining so for me
      He leaps to death in woe for me?
      Oh where are a maiden’s simple joys?

      Shan’t I have the normal life a maiden should?
      Shall I never be rescued evermore?
      Shall two knights never tilt for me
      and let their blood be spilt for me?
      Oh where are the simple joys of maidenhood?

      Shall I not be on a pedestal,
      Worshipped and competed for?
      Not be carried off, or better st’ll,
      Cause a little war?

      Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?
      Are those sweet, gentle pleasures gone for good?
      Shall a feud not begin for me?
      Shall kith not kill their kin for me?
      Oh, where are the trivial joys,
      Harmless, convivial joys…?
      Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?

      (This, from a musical that hit Broadway in 1960 – well before they published the book I call “The Feminist Mistaque.” And I can prove it, at least as to the provenance of the lyrics; I inherited the “original Broaday cast” vinyl, and I still have a turntable that can play it.)

      • http://www.avoiceformen.com Dr. F

        BeijaFlor,

        Funny words in this song. Can you tell me where I chance upon a viewing of it ? Is it on film perhaps ?

        P.S.
        I think the poncy twit was looking for Robin Hood.

        P.P.S.
        Can you tell me how I can do quotes and embed YouTube videos and all the rest of it, please ? Things like italics I don’t know how to do.

        Can you point me to a page on the net that will show me how to do it ?

        Ta.

        • BeijaFlor

          I thought this song was funny, for years and years – but now, after enough time reading in the Men’s Movement, I realize that it’s an honest reflection of wimminz’ hunger for excitement, adulation, and the spectacle of men fighting over her.

          [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAyLYf2G3n8&w=420&h=315

          This is someone’s YouTube post of the original Broadway cast album cut. Julie Andrews played Guenevere, who was being brought to wed King Arthur (played by Richard Burton, though he doesn’t sing on this cut).

          (As for HTML formatting – you flatter me, sir, by asking. I’ll shoot you an e-mail.)

      • Dennis

        BeijaFlor, I have the same vinyl and a turntable as well. What ever happened to the “good old days!”? Those poor women of yore, they were so abused!

        • BeijaFlor

          Oh, yes. What progress the wimminz have achieved over the past fifty years.

          Back in the Sixties, they could only do no more than wring their hands while their White Knights did all the dirty work, from clearing mousetraps to cleaning the floor with some cad who hadn’t “done right” by the delicate lass.

          Today, they wade in themselves, with fists and high-heels and broken bottles and worse, to do the job themselves – but woe betide the man who offers to raise a hand in return!

          Liberated, truly liberated, are these … bitches.

  • scatmaster

    Welcome Counselor!!!!

    This is indeed a monumental addition to AVFM!

    Shame on those who have not recognized it as such.

    Ooops. I am shaming but seriously guys.
    Give the dude some props!!!

    • http://www.avoiceformen.com Dr. F

      Mr Scatters,

      Here in Australia we’d call you… I call you, “a funny cunt.”

      Do not take this as an insult in any way. Noooo, I swear it’s a term of affection, and I ask you in that spirit to throw off any “lost in translation” knapsack to the PC crowd that may cluster behind you.

      P.S.
      Yes yes, one day in our lifetime I will shout you a beer and we will laugh at a world of misandry that once was.

  • Poester99

    We’ve been remiss… I definitely concur
    Great article Robert, welcome to AVFM!

  • Red0660

    I don’t understand….what women have is not a choice it is a privilege bought and paid for by men. What do we get for it? That child is hers. Women are already a legal liability for men. There is already little chance you will be able to be an involved father once she leaves in divorce and NO chance if she stays home. It’s men’s choice, we pay for it. If a man says you work and will not support you to stay home then you go to work.

    Women, in accordance with feminism and the liability that marriage 2.0 brings should work..PERIOD. In accordance with feminism the child should immediately go to a corporate or government run child care facility. Why men would marry or think women bring anything to the table other than a liability is beyond me. Women are dependent, their choices financed by men. What do women bring to marriage? What liability do they have? What is it that men are getting out of the deal….nothing.

  • Red0660

    Women are our competitors now…don’t they know that?

  • DNA

    The article says, “Feminism went down the wrong road when it proclaimed motherhood, home and family to be bad for women.”

    The core of Feminism is proclaiming that fatherhood, home, and family are bad for men.