Badinter v. Rich

It seems that everyone in the blogosphere is talking about Elisabeth Badinter’s The Conflict. (Or, at least, they were before the infamous Time Magazine cover.) No one seems to particularly like it & based on the excerpt published by Harper’s a few months ago & my reaction to it, I frankly have no interest in reading the book or contributing to all the fuss.

So instead I’m persevering with Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born (in addition to Charles Dickens’ Bleak House… but that’s a discussion for another day…). So far I have found Of Woman Bornto be a thoughtful, profound & moving book. It’s smart & deftly weaves journal entries with history with personal narrative. Rich doesn’t alienate her readers but comes from a place that is uniquely inclusive. Rich reaches across race & class lines, in addition to reaching across decades & centuries.

I don’t doubt that Rich would be skeptical (like Badinter) about the so-called natural parenting movement. But Rich’s poet-mind allows her to explore the pressures on mothers without vilifying the choices individual mothers make. And of course attachment parenting as coined by Dr. Sears, et al., did not exist at the time Rich was writing the book. But there are definitely threads of a more “natural” approach to parenting in the book, even if not a “movement.”

The book is dated in some respects, but it is certainly relevant… extremely relevant as a proper model for how to carry on in a serious feminist analysis of motherhood. Who needs “the conflict” when we truly can engage in meaningful discussion as sisters & not as frenemies.


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Filed under Feminism, Mothering

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