Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mother or masochist?

Many of you would have seen this story about French feminist Elisabeth Badinter in last weekend's Australian.

I had to nick the page from my local cafe because I had three kids vying for my lap as I was trying to read it. But finally got around to finishing it and have covered the paper in my fervent scribbles. Will try to weave them into a coherent response... Next post...


Kerry said...

Looking forward to your coherent response. Amazing how much I agree/disagree with ideas such as these, and then I just end up confused, defensive, afraid I'm duping myself, and utterly confident that I'm not.

Elisabeth said...

I too look forward to your thoughts, Rachel. I've just skimmed through the article. I have mixed feelings. she has a point and yet and yet and yet, there is something that' she's missing, or is it just my interpretation. The article certainly deserves a thoughtful pull apart and you're the one who can do it, children on your lap. Thanks.

Nikkers said...

The article is a good read.
A mother of two, I don't disagree with Elizabeth Badinter's opinions. I would suggest most of the controversy surrounding her comments come when they are quoted out of context.
I think it is good advice for any woman to beware defining themself too much in terms of their role as a mother.
I am concerned about the all-to-common tendency for society to control what women expecting a baby do or don't do. There are society-imposed prohibitions on smoking, drinking, food and more. It is an example of how ``the baby is now the tyrant for its mother''.
The ideal of ``the good mother'', as Badinter says has become crushing.
I don't see how anyone could be offended by Badinter's comment: "My only advice would be to listen to your own desires and know that no one knows the secret of good motherhood. Moreover, don't let yourself be influenced by fashion. If you don't want to breastfeed, there is a good bottle to use; and if you breastfeed, well that is good too. Don't follow fashion, fashion changes."
Sounds sensible to me.
I'm keen to read your thoughts and those of your readers.

Kirti said...

hi sweetness, I just read the article too and have spent the last hour writing a response which became so long that I've cut and pasted it for further review. I am really interested in feminist discourse on motherhood and feel like I want to do more research. Your blog, your work, is a wonderful resource! Thanks for the ongoing inspiration xxx

Frances said...

Although this appears to be part of the usual debate, isn't Badinter largely commenting on the apparently very proscriptive demands on mothers at present, compared to thirty years ago? Our whole society is in fact far more proscriptive, with less personal choice, than it was then, as far as I can see.
One of the canards that young women are now taught is that if they don't make their career moves early, they will miss getting their feet on the succcess ladder. I agree with Badinter: "...even if they spend 10 years devoted to...children..there are still many decades remaining after childbearing."
It seems to me to be far more difficult now to be a young woman than it once was.