The Boston Review on Elizabeth Badinter’s “The Conflict”

Lindsay Beyerstein

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow has a very interesting review of Elizabeth Badinter’s book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women:

Now an American version of Le Conflit has been released, with the title The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. In the book, Badinter lambastes the return of motherhood to the center of women’s lives, a shift she observes throughout the West. She examines a wide assortment of policy and cultural factors at play since the 1970s. But her chief culprit is an ideology she calls naturalism,” the belief in the infallible wisdom of nature. She sees naturalism at the heart of breastfeeding absolutism, as well as other trends, such as un-medicated childbirth and cloth diapers. In the name of nature, all of these deprive women of conveniences that could ease the burdens of motherhood. Nature has become a decisive argument for imposing laws or dispensing advice,” she writes. It is now an ethical touchstone, hard to criticize and overwhelming all other considerations.” [Boston Review]

I don’t normally take much of an interest in debates about childrearing practices, but I’m glad a philosopher is critiquing the fuzzy-headed nature worship that permeates so much of our culture.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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