Ozy Frantz has a post up in response to one by Katha Pollitt, about “attachment parenting”, which is basically the current buzzword for the way we raised my kid – my ex-wife and I almost never set him down because he was just too precious for one thing and for another it was just easier to keep track of him that way. (It didn’t include breast-feeding until six, though.) Anyway, it has suddenly become some new thing, after countless generations, and it has become yet another way to beat women up about their personal choices and preferences in their private lives.
She says something really obvious, but apparently not obvious enough for anyone else to say it explicitly:
“However, I think it’s necessary to distinguish attachment parenting as one parenting strategy out of many from attachment parenting as the latest iteration of Cult of the Perfect Mother.”
This is a really, really important point. This is puritanism in action – not sexual repression, but a social movement almost five hundred years old now, the idea of eternal progress, that nothing traditional or customary is ever good, no one is ever really good enough. It is the cultural and social equivalent of Original Sin and Calvinist anxiety about election. It’s a good thing when it’s good, it’s an engine of progress, but it can get really oppressive really quick.
Right now it’ s attachment parenting, but two or three years ago it was another flare-up in the milk wars, with scathing things said about mothers who didn’t breast-feed for however many months, longer and ever longer, that some self-appointed milk maven decreed was the absolute minimum and real mother would nurse.
This is just mean girls in prairie dresses and Birkenstocks. That’s really where the energy for all this comes from, one set of women deciding who’s cool and who’s not, and trying to impose this on all the other women who don’t get to belong to this inner circle. As Katha Pollitt says, this always comes down to middle class white women policing each other – well, actually some of them trying to police all the others. It comes down to petty personal superiority. Ooooooh, maybe if I just act like a teenager, I’ll stay young forever!!
In case anyone thinks this is anything new, let me tell you how every five years the experts flip-flop on whether you’re supposed to lay the kid on his stomach to prevent SIDS and then, oh no! no! – it’s only ever on his back!!!! Then there are the idiots who used to pipe French and Mozart into the kid while still in utero – never too soon to get her on the fast track to the Ivies! Oh, yeah, and the ever tedious milk wars about breast feeding and pumping and actually having to work a day job and all that mess.
And looking ever wider, think of all the waves of controversy the culture has gone through – the mommy wars over women going out to work or staying home, that raged all through the 80s; the orthodoxies around rape that often end up re-victimizing rape victims; and others you commenters can name. Going back further, think of the doctinaire fervor that characterized the major women’s movement of the 19th century, the Temperence Movement. What these all have in common is doctrinaire puritan fervor, as fraught and high-stakes as that surrounding questions of personal slavation.
Misandry – Both she and Katha Pollitt make another equally important point, though that’s not my focus in this article, that fathers get almost no mention in all of this talk about attachment parenting. I think it’s quite simple. This is just another form of mommy-blocking. This buzz about attachment parenting is just another way to make parenting into this abstruse science open only to true believers and initiates, and that doesn’t mean mere males. And if a father somehow doesn’t but into all this anxiety, well, that just proves he’s not really “engaged” and “fully involved.” But that is another post.
Latest posts by Jim Doyle (see all)
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016