Saturday, June 05, 2010

Elisabeth Badinter - Conflict: The Woman and the Mother

This article on French feminist and philosopher Elisabeth Badinter's new book( a best seller in France, not yet translated into English)is reviewed in the Fashion and style section of the New York Times.

The ensuing comments cover all the usual ground: mothering would be better if men were better; corporations and an uncaring work place are to blame; that the green issues are real and create work for everyone, not just women; and that women's rights and industrialisation dovetailed to fuel capitalist aims we are now revising. It seems the fashion to mother intensively, although she doesn't call it that, has reached France.

Many agree with parts of Badminter's arguments. Some see her as an old school feminist who insults women by categorising them and expecting they blindly follow trends without thinking. Some point out that the working mum/stay-at-home mum is only a choice for the wealthy. In poorer families, mothers work.

I'm glad the conversation is happening. Of course, expectations and support for families in terms of social policies, such as parental leave and health care, are very different in France and the US.

As for the way motherhood,intensive motherhood, is now elevated to a type of sainthood in some quarters, perhaps it is just the swing of the pendulum. Perhaps motherhood, and fatherhood, and the carework of relationships will soon be integrated into a normal life, as it should be.

A carbon tax and tighter regulations regarding food production and the manufacturing of, well, everything, would take the stress off the individual, and off mothers. We need to live more sustainably. Yes, parental leave and health care are essential. Yes, investing in children, and parents' ability to parent is worthwhile. With all this kind of thinking going on, why doesn't every developed country, eg, USA and Australia, have more socialist policies??

1 comment:

Motherhugger said...

This is being discussed on Essential Baby (Australian mum forum). Many of the same issues have been raised. There are currently over 600 posts! What I'm interested in is, considering we have been looking to France as a country that has been getting motherhood right, why the change?