In an unexpected twist in the ever-simmering mommy wars, novelist and feminist icon Erica Jong says "attachment parenting" has turned the baby into "the ultimate political tool." The child-rearing method, touted in The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears, encourages women to wear their babies, sleep with them, and become totally focused on meeting their wee ones' needs. That, Jong says in The Wall Street Journal, keeps typically left-leaning mothers and fathers from having the time to think about politics or question the world. Is progressive parenting, as Jong says, "a perfect tool for the political right"?
Jong has it backwards: Jong's assertion is "both insulting and inaccurate," say Katie Allison Granju and Jillian St. Charles at The New York Times. In fact, she has it backwards. Progressive moms aren't "so trapped and burdened" that we've become "tools" of the right. "Progressive politics begin at home," and for many women becoming a mother is "the most politically radicalizing experience of their lives."
"Erica Jong and 'zipless parenting'"
Actually, setting impossible standards can be stifling: "Jong is making a fruitful point," says Libby Copeland at Double X. She's merely pointing out that the best any mother can do is "muddle through" and do the best she can, so we shouldn't let ourselves "feel hemmed in by impossible and impossibly time-consuming standards."
"In praise of the mistakes of motherhood"
Attachment parenting is not the problem: Sure, attending baby's every need can be a bit much at times, says Madeline Holler at Strollerderby, but it's a stretch to say it robs "modern moms" of their political voice. "It’s not as if mama grizzlies made the scene and suddenly my high-quality, inexpensive childcare went away." Jong is "blaming the victim" — the real problem is lack of adequate child-care alternatives, parental leave, and equal pay.
"Dear Erica Jong: We parent in a vacuum, not a prison"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 10 things you need to know today: September 22, 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
Subscribe to the Week