Modern Farce: The Myth Of The Perfect MotherApril 30, 2012 No Comments
Does a perfect mother exist? According to French feminist Elisabeth Badinter, this creature is a myth. Earlier this month, her book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women was translated into English. Already a best seller in France, the book boldly proclaims that the myth of the modern perfect mother has become the latest form of oppression of women.
According to Badinter, patriarchy has been replaced with demanding children and a society that pushes women to embrace “natural” motherhood. Young women are prepared to sacrifice their professional and personal lives for the good of their children and are often shamed when they refuse to conform. She says this is hurting women’s equality and is pushing the cause back several generations to our great grandmother’s time.
Badinter points particularly to breastfeeding and its advocates. Women are repeatedly brainwashed into believing it is a necessary piece of the mother-child bond without any regard for the woman’s feelings. She also views this phenomenon as a backlash by daughters towards their first-wave feminist mothers.
I am happy someone finally wrote this book. I support women who choose to stay at home with their children because it brings them personal happiness. However, children should not be assumed to be the centre of every woman’s life. It is ridiculous that women are still expected to leave their careers for their children to be the ideal mother. Heaven forbid a woman refuses to abandon her professional life. She is portrayed as selfish and neglectful, sacrificing her “natural” duty as a mother for career ambitions.
This is certainly a double standard. Men aren’t expected to leave their jobs to become full-time caregivers. Even if they want to, our society views these men as less masculine. Men don’t have enough opportunities to be good fathers; and the perfect mother acts as if she was the only one involved in the creation of the child.
Each woman should be able to define her own motherhood experience instead of trying to conform to unreasonable social expectations of women. If I have children, I will not leave my career nor will my life revolve around my offspring. I will seek a balance in my life in which my children are an important part, but not the centre of my existence.
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