In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Time Bind, The Conflict, a #1 European bestseller, identifies a surprising setback to women's freedom: progressive modern motherhood
Elisabeth Badinter has for decades been in the vanguard of the European fight for women's equality. Now, in an explosive new book, she points her finger at a most unlikely force undermining the status of women: liberal motherhood, in thrall to all that is "natural." Attachment parenting, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and especially breast-feeding—these hallmarks of contemporary motherhood have succeeded in tethering women to the home and family to an extent not seen since the 1950s. Badinter argues that the taboos now surrounding epidurals, formula, disposable diapers, cribs—and anything that distracts a mother's attention from her offspring—have turned childrearing into a singularly regressive force.
In sharp, engaging prose, Badinter names a reactionary shift that is intensely felt but has not been clearly articulated until now, a shift that America has pioneered. She reserves special ire for the orthodoxy of the La Leche League—an offshoot of conservative Evangelicalism—showing how on-demand breastfeeding, with all its limitations, curtails women's choices. Moreover, the pressure to provide children with 24/7 availability and empathy has produced a generation of overwhelmed and guilt-laden mothers—one cause of the West's alarming decline in birthrate.
A bestseller in Europe, The Conflict is a scathing indictment of a stealthy zealotry that cheats women of their full potential.
About Elisabeth BadinterSee more books from this Author
Missing from Badinter’s philosophical schema is any sort of intellectual middle path that, instead of pitting mothers against children, might lead to solutions that could benefit both.Read Full Review of The Conflict | See more reviews from NY Times
Enthusiasm for natural mothering, or "overzealous motherhood", is at fever pitch in Britain just now, and The Conflict is an important and refreshing challenge to the dominant ideology.Read Full Review of The Conflict | See more reviews from Guardian
Badinter’s impressive imperative to own one’s own life, to take rigorous and energetic responsibility, to cast off the silly or cowardly or frivolously domestic ways, seems very appealing, and refreshing and brisk.Read Full Review of The Conflict
...a spoonful of sugar would’ve been appreciated by this reader, since you get more readers with honey than footnotes, although arguably some gracefulness was simply lost in translation.Read Full Review of The Conflict
Conflicted attitudes toward motherhood also reveal unspoken truths, she writes: “Since the advent of contraception, women’s identities have splintered and diversified. The inability to acknowledge this smacks of wilful blindness.” And if any book can smack those scales from the eyes, it’s this one.Read Full Review of The Conflict
But by savoring the shortsighted fervor of such extremists, Badinter erodes our faith in her ability to assess the bigger picture.Read Full Review of The Conflict
...Badinter gets a little over-excited in the attempt and her ideas come bowling out over each other without as much structure as I would like.Read Full Review of The Conflict
But motherhood is an experience that is full of ambiguity and ambivalence, and pretending otherwise, even for the sake of argument, will make The Conflict dismissible by anyone who feels excluded from Badinter’s arid categories of thought.Read Full Review of The Conflict
But too often, she fails to persuasively defend the particulars of her argument...Read Full Review of The Conflict
Badinter decries the rise of “naturalism” in contemporary childrearing... But then she contradicts herself...Read Full Review of The Conflict
Not that it constitutes a dull read; Badinter’s tone is one of cold rage.Read Full Review of The Conflict
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