Alert and dedicated readers may remember that my first post for this blog was all about Elizabeth Badinter's book Conflict: The Woman and the Mother. In this book, Badinter, a French Intellectual, states that all the elements of attachment parenting (cloth diapers, breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, etc.) are nothing more than a prison enslaving women from reaching their true potential. If these elements were not in play, Badinter argues, women would free themselves from their children and enter the working world and becoming true feminists. That attachment parenting moms and dads are turning their backs on the advances of modern life (formula, disposable diapers, epiderals) and enslaving themselves to their children. Decades of modern feminism advances are being rolled back by these choices. So she says.
I argued that true feminism, at least as defined by this WAHM in the suburbs of Minneapolis, is to follow the path that makes sense for you. For some, it is full-on attachment parenting, cutting no corners. For others, it is a cafeteria approach...picking the elements of attachment parenting that make sense for their situation and opting not to include those that do not. For still others, attachment parenting has no place in their lives and they are able to raise happy, healthy families with no guilt for the road not taken. All of these are valid and worthwhile options. Many of my readers agreed with me according to the comments on the post.
I had more or less forgotten Badinter and her screed against Attachment Parenting even though her book is a top seller in Europe and soon to come to the US. I was having a calm afternoon this weekend relaxing after the chaos of my twins' birthday party when my husband stuck the Wall Street Journal under my nose and said "You are going to find this interesting." In the Journal, author Erica Jong in her essay Mother Madness takes on Badinter's cause. She too finds the "orgy of motherphilia" offensive and rails against it in her essay. Her belief is that Attachment Parenting, especially, as she points out, when it is combined with the desire to be environmentally correct, has encouraged female victimization. That the need to do all the "right" things creates a prison (there is that word again) for moms and that it represents as much "a backlash against women's freedom as the right-to-life movement." She does point out, rightly, I believe, that not all families can afford full-on attachment parenting. That the need to have two working parents in a family may require a family to take a different path. I think this is a topic that is too infrequently raised and I do applaud her for doing so.
Jong interestingly lists out all the ways she was NOT an attachment parent including the heavy use of nannies, the long absences from her child and the use of any and all modern technology she could acquire. What is most notable is that in a companion piece, her daughter, the author Molly Jong-Fast, writes of her own life as a stay at home mom to three young children. How her entire parenting philosophy is a repudiation of the way her mother raised her. She does not criticize her mother, however, she praises her. She said that her mother's choices allowed her to have the life where she can make very different choices for her family.
So, what do you think? Is this a dead horse (at least until Badinter's book hits Oprah)? Are the choices of Attachment Parenting families derailing feminism? Is something as sweet and useful as a cloth diaper subversive?
Feeling a little subversive myself on this post-election week. So, let's give away one of those hostile to modern feminism cloth diapers. How about one of the new bumGenius Artist Series ones as I think they are fairly cool. There are many ways to enter and each one will result in a separate entry. Entries must be received by November 25, 2010.
1. Comment on this Blog
2. Fan Cottontail Baby on Facebook
3. Join the Cottontail Baby mailing list
4. Fan the Cloth Diaper Retailer Blog on Facebook.