The Conflict: Woman & Mother

Elisabeth Badinter, Adriana Hunter

The Conflict: Woman & Mother
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The Conflict: Woman & Mother

Elisabeth Badinter, Adriana Hunter

Today, to be pregnant seems not far from entering into a religious order. There is an expectation that mothers will fit the bill of breastfeeding, nappy-washing, home-cooking supermums. So are mums who rely on formula, childcare and disposable nappies lazy or liberated? The conflict between a woman’s individual identity and her identity as a mother is not unique to our time. In the 18th century, French women overcame the problem by shipping their newborns off to wet nurses. But not so anymore. Modern mothers are bombarded by advice from ecologists, breastfeeding advocates, behavioural specialists, even politicians. The pressure to be a perfect mother is overwhelming, and it’s scaring women away. And why wouldn’t it when the expectation is that your child will become your god and you its humble servant? In The Conflict Elisabeth Badinter, France’s foremost feminist thinker, questions why our ideas of motherhood have been skewed by unachievable expectations that compromise notions of self and womanhood. No matter which side of the debate you stand on, this bold and revelatory book is essential reading.

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