The Feminist vs. Attachment Moms
Look out, attached parents! A feminist writer challenges the popular parenting style
By Shannon Gallagher
Erica Jong, a feminist writer and poet best known for her sexually-progressive novel Fear of Flying, has come under serious fire from the attachment parenting community for her inflammatory assault on the increasingly popular parenting style in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal (see “Mother Madness”).
Jong’s argument is basically this: “Attachment parenting, especially when combined with environmental correctness, has encouraged female victimization. Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food and eschew disposable diapers. It’s a prison for mothers, and it represents as much of a backlash against women’s freedom as the right-to-life movement.” In addition to victimizing women, Jong claims that AP is “the perfect tool for the political right,” since it keeps parents so busy raising their children that they don’t have much time to engage in and change the world in which they are raising their children. She continues on to suggest that modern child-rearing — hyper-competitive helicopter parents trying to mold perfect children at the expense of themselves and society as a whole — is merely an avoidance strategy, the young family becoming a sandbox in which men and women can bury their heads so as not to have to deal with the scary world outside their front door.
As a woman, a working mother, and a proponent of attachment parenting, I find her argument to be insulting in its implications, yet so poorly argued as to lose most of its merit. The response from the New York Times’ mommy-blog Motherlode (“Has Attachment Parenting Imprisoned Mothers?”) sums up my thoughts exactly. (Even more interesting than the two columns themselves have been the deluge of comments inspired by them!) Last week, the comments elicited a letter from Ms. Jong to Motherlode’s blogger, Lisa Belkin, in which she suggests that “All the rage of the mommy bloggers would be better spent on political pro-parent action than on one-upping each other about who is the better parent.”
This is a statement I can agree with. Though I’m not convinced that Ms. Jong is necessarily drinking her own Kool-Aid with that one.
I’m curious to know what you parents out there — AP or not — think. Check out the columns (if you haven’t already) and let me know what you think below!