Is motherhood a form of oppression?

Posted By on March 23, 2010

We’ve had a lot of articles over the years dealing with the fundamental premises of feminism and with the feminist movement’s long war against motherhood. Recent articles in British papers have shown that younger women are turning away from the daycare solution their own mothers used and expressing a desire to stay at home with their own children.

In the face of such disloyalty, hard-core gender feminists seemed mainly to maintain radio silence, while at least one career woman labeled the shift “demoralising.” But one prominent French feminist has gone on the warpath against dedicated motherhood with a vengeance, calling babies “tyrants”:

Her latest book, Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), which is topping the bestseller lists in France amid intense debate, maintains that women have thrown off the shackles of male domination only to impose a far more pernicious tyranny on themselves — that of their own children.

She advocates a return to the old French model, which involved whatever necessary — powdered milk, baby minders, nurseries, you name it — to prevent les enfants from taking over their mothers’ lives.

“We live 80 to 85 years in our industrialised countries, and children take up 20 to 25 years of that,” she says. “Staking your whole life on 20 years is a bad bet.”

Today’s mother isn’t taking this kind of selfishness lying down, though. The backlash against Badinter’s me-first philosophy was swift and nearly unanimous, as women all over the world lit up the blogosphere and posted comments galore, defending devoted motherhood. This is greatly encouraging, as it demonstrates feminism’s waning hold on women–particularly on the next generation.

We’ll be writing more about this in the coming months, as there are lots of sides to this issue that deserve to be tackled. A fantastic one is the tacit acknowledgment that a successful career just cannot deliver happiness when it means handing your children over to strangers. Another one is the excellent trend of more and more women toward home-based and family-centered businesses — a return to the Colonial American model that produced both strong families and economic prosperity and something LAF has promoted for years (rather amusing to see the feminists claiming it as their own now!). Lots to talk about, so stay tuned!

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About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of eleven children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.

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