Wednesday, September 22

Maternity: a manifesto; (Motherhood; The Motherhood Complex Review: Time for the Perfect Father Worship | Society Books


TThe subject of the indignities of post-feminist motherhood is always fresh. And yet last year seems to have left the wound more alive than ever. By Eliane Glaser Maternity: a manifesto it has already generated great coverage on social networks for the claims that “motherhood is the unfinished business of feminism” and “the cult of the perfect mother must end.” Who would not agree with these statements? But you need to say these things out loud, especially when “the pandemic is amplifying prejudice against working mothers,” to quote a typical recent headline.

And yet what are the solutions on offer that haven’t been proposed for decades by, say, Betty Friedan or Simone de Beauvoir, both happily cited here? Glaser concentrates on the uncomfortable truths: “Modern motherhood somehow manages to degrade women while raising the stakes at the same time.” “For too long, the injustices of modern motherhood have been hidden by anxiety and guilt.” “… parental involvement has been flat …” But is there a lot of “manifest” in Maternity: a manifesto (i.e. instruction instead of understanding)? Arguably not. This is more exploration and telling the truth. But when it’s so well written and well argued, who cares?

This book begins with Glaser playing with his young children in the park. A passerby comments that he is doing “the most important job in the world.” It sounds hollow. “His words felt like compensation for the actual state, or a warning against seeking it in the first place.” Where, asks the author, is the public recognition? Or, indeed, some remuneration? Analyzing Mumsnet publications, feminist tomes, parenting Bibles over the decades, and her own experience, Glaser concludes that the way we are asked to care “is not a credible way of living ”. With powerful expression throughout and addictively easy to read (while being meticulously researched and effortlessly smart), this is a breath of fresh air that combines personal observation with political analysis and investigative journalism. suitable. This will save you from reading hundreds of books on parenting and parenting. And it’s a damn more entertaining sight.

On (Maternity, behavioral scientist Pragya Agarwal wonders whether a book that questions the parental self and society’s attitudes toward that self should define itself as a memory or as a political writing: “Does it really have to sit in a box? ” Here’s the proof that it really isn’t: this is genre-defying thought-provoking read. As expected, coming from the author of Influence: Unraveling Unconscious BiasDr. Agarwal is especially concerned with questions of identity, which makes this a thoughtful anthropological journey. What does it mean to want to be a mother? What will others assume about you if you choose that and if you don’t? What do these assumptions tell us about who we are as a society?

It is frequently asked about the role of critical words we use on female bodies. They tell you that you have an “incompetent” or “inhospitable” uterus. She poignantly writes about the ambiguities of motherhood, secondary infertility (not being able to conceive after giving birth in the past), surrogacy, and her personal experience of abortion as a single mother: “A contradiction: I was a mother, but I couldn’t be a mother. Not then. “

All of these moments are seamlessly intertwined with statistics, quotes, and scientific evidence for an intelligent narrative effect: the personal and universal aspects of motherhood are illuminated as interchangeable in a way reminiscent of Olivia Laing’s writings on loneliness or loneliness. Body. Scientific writer Angela Saini summarizes (Maternity perfectly in its cover quote as “a step towards a literature that recognizes the breadth and variety of parental experience and its cultural meanings.” It all adds up to the most thoughtful, empathetic, and inspiring science of the self. (Not that I can see Waterstones adopting this as a bookshelf category. But maybe it should.)

On The maternity complex, Melissa Hogenboom offers an upbeat and authoritarian tirade on the contradiction between what we think motherhood is supposed to be and what it really is like, beginning with her own understanding that despite her liberal Dutch-influenced upbringing, she, like many of us, he was quite ignorant about the facts of his own biology. On the positive side, however, he has an idea of ​​a different parenting example: in Dutch mother culture, although there is “a greater trend towards competitive and intensive parenting, parenting there is still more relaxed.”

Where Eliane Glaser focuses on social change and Pragya Agarwal is interested in the social self, Hogenboom displays a proper anatomy of motherhood, delving into physical and emotional changes. An award-winning filmmaker and mother of two, she takes herself for a vivid documentary case study, her observations on maternity leave policies and modern parenting advice (usually unhelpful, she notes) interspersed with her own annotations. in the newspaper and anecdotes about their children. behavior and your reactions to them. Like Glaser, it is descriptive rather than prescriptive, gleefully listing all the contradictory hellish methods that are “recommended”: “What we do know is that strictly following parental advice can be harmful.” This book is comforting, warm, and subtly challenging.

In general, this trio represents an indirect question: “Haven’t we had enough of trying so hard?” As Eliane Glaser points out, many of today’s stereotypes of mothers “symbolize our failure to enhance the experience of motherhood.” Watch televisions Homeland, books like Why Mummy Drinks and endless “hilarious” jokes about wine on the dot: “The only suggestion we can offer is just to drink.” Hogenboom’s conclusion? We are so obsessed with being “perfect parents” that we set ourselves up for failure. It is better to be “selfish” (actually sensible) and leave the children to their own devices more often. I’ll drink for that.

Maternity: a manifesto by Eliane Glaser is published by the Fourth Estate (£ 16.99). To support the guardian order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply

(M) alterity: about the options of being a woman by Pragya Agarwal is published by Canongate (£ 16.99). To support the guardian order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply

The Motherhood Complex: The Story of Our Changing Self by Melissa Hogenboom It is published by Piatkus (£ 14.99). To support the guardian order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply


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