The Mommy Trap
How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women
by Elisabeth Badinter
$25.00 List Price
Indoctrination into the practices of modern motherhood can feel like showing up at Navy SEAL training camp without any discernible desire to, say, swim several miles through strong ocean waves fully clothed, and then proceed to trudge through the sand for fifteen miles in wet boots. Even with hormonally induced romantic notions about bonding with this small, as-yet-unseen human, it can be tough not to feel wishy-washy among the hard-core marines of motherhood. The current ideal seems to call for a total surrender to the baby’s putative desires—natural childbirth, home birthing, on-demand breast-feeding, pumping, cosleeping, baby wearing—with few willing to name an end point to these practices. Presumably, you immerse yourself in this life—pumping while you feed to maintain your milk supply, catnapping next to your baby all night, navigating the world with a small human tied to your chest like a ticking time bomb—until your sanity or your biological alliance with your partner begins to fracture.
That said, when a French feminist informs us that the toils and snares of naturalist mothering are not only unnecessary but contribute to women’s marginalization in the workplace and in society at large, it’s tough not to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s absolutely true that the boot camp of modern motherhood can feel beyond oppressive. The purism of its advocates, with their idealistic notions of around-the-clock bonding and their dismissive attitudes toward day care, often feels like the neuroticism of the upper middle class splattered indiscriminately across a wide