A French author proclaims stay-at-home mothers to be equivalent to animals and a danger to the modern woman. Has she lost her mind, or is she on to something?
Elisabeth Badinter, author of The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women (recently translated from its original French and on American bookshelves now) revealed her extreme thoughts in a recent interview in Marie Claire. Her thoughts on birthing, diapering, breastfeeding and staying at home are certainly contrary to how many modern women view parenting, and she insists that women who stay at home with their children are detrimental to the recent progress women have made.
The interview has plenty to chew on for moms who have embraced any tenet of attachment parenting or who are stay-at-home mothers. "These women don't see beyond the next three years," she told Marie Claire. "It's this absence of vision in the middle of their lives that I find infantile. I'll say it: infantile. It doesn't give me any pleasure to say that. And this intellectual dowry is all in the name of 'I want to be a good mother.'"
Badinter also has plenty to say about breastfeeding. She said, "If 24 hours a day the woman is reduced to her role as a nursing animal... there are obvious consequences for a couple." While she says nursing is a personal decision, her tone comes across very negatively about a nursing relationship between a mother and her child. She also maintains that women should keep their jobs and be financially independent so they can survive without the help of a man.
We were able to speak with Claire, a mom of one living in France, who was horrified at what Badinter had to say. "France is clearly in a crisis situation where breastfeeding is concerned – and has been for a long time," she explained. "For example, many, many women here choose to formula-feed from birth, out of convenience. The issue is complex enough without people like Mrs. Badinter attacking breastfeeding. Bashing mothers who choose to formula feed is just as bad as calling those who breastfeed 'nursing animals,' as Elisabeth Badinter did."
Do the French make better parents? >>
We spoke with moms who had plenty to say about her ideas. "I don't get the whole 'feminism = working outside of the home' thing," explained Brittney, mom of one. "Feminism = choosing what you want to do with your life. Another feminist telling me what to do is no better than my husband telling me what to do."
Brooke, from California, agreed. "I love how she is touting feminism and not being 'enslaved' by your baby, but only once does she mention the father's role," she shared. "It seems like she herself is being sexist and all her opinions are based on child rearing being only a mother's duty."
Lisa, mother of three, was really turned off at the "animal" reference. "She appears to be more concerned about life without a man and how a mother will survive financially than actually raising children," she told us. "I think most women who choose to have children don't worry about, 'What if my partner leaves me?' because in the end, most mothers would sacrifice everything to help the children and family."
Badinter is independently wealthy and personally holds controlling interest in Publicis, a PR firm whose clients include Nestlé, a controversial company who has been flagged for continual violations of the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. It's unclear if this has anything to do with her views, but it does cast a cloud over what seems to be a very anti-breastfeeding viewpoint.
All in all, the interview was incendiary at best, and downright insulting as well. Making the best choice for your own family and your own children is what we as mothers should concentrate on, rather than the ideals of one person.
Do you agree with Badinter's thoughts on stay-at-home moms? Is staying at home with kids short-sighted?
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