Comments on: “The Conflict”: Encore? Vraiment? Or, mama’s got a brand new whig. http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:56:07 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: wini http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-638912 Thu, 10 Jun 2010 16:17:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-638912 I just got a copy of a really interesting article by Ellen Willis (one of the first female rock critics, later a professor at NYU) about feminism and family. It was published in the Village Voice in 1979 and was sparked by Willis’s deep engagement with feminism along with her realization that she would not be having children because of a series of very good decisions she had made about her career.

It was very thoughtful, and it makes me happy that the Voice put it on their front page. It also demonstrates how much family, children, and motherhood were deeply entwined in the feminist movements of the 1970.

]]>
By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-638318 Thu, 10 Jun 2010 01:39:28 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-638318 They were having some of these same arguments in France during the 1790s, over the supposed “naturalness” of sex roles and the likely familial-dynamics impacts of certain public policy choices. The National Convention’s committee on public instruction kept issuing recommendations for plans of equal access to education for girls and women. It set right with some deputees, not with others. Gilbert Romme famously harrangued his colleagues in the spring of 1793 to the effect that “all men have an equal right to liberty, no matter their age, sex, or color.” These debates over schooling went directly to questions about citizenship and access to voting and governance. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of Romme’s colleagues sentenced him to the guillotine two years later, which he avoided by stabbing himself.

It’s really a surprising cross, though, for an *early* modernist, to find a footnote in a journal today recommending that I go read Elisabeth Badinter, _Paroles d’Hommes, Condorcet, Prudhomme, Guyomar (1790-1793)_. It’s in French, though, that’s the only thing…

]]>
By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-638256 Thu, 10 Jun 2010 00:09:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-638256 That’s my understanding of the history, LadyProf, and of the politics of the times. Constructing feminism as an attack on the family is out of a very old playbook–that’s how it was criticized back in the 19th C. But actual organized feminists were very much advocates for breastfeeding rights for women, for paid maternity leave, and for all sorts of policies that are very family-friendly. But they were also women-friendly, which is why the movement was characterized as about selfishness and shirking family. (I’m not a 20th C historian, though, so all caveats apply and others are welcome to correct/amend/revise my comments here.)

]]>
By: LadyProf http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-638163 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 19:45:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-638163 Paul, I wasn’t there, but I think the 60s and 70s version of feminism didn’t devalue motherhood and childrearing. Betty Friedan in particular took a keen interest in the welfare of children. But enemies of the movement chose to spin the second wave that way, finding an anti-motherhood agenda in its strong endorsement of abortion rights and the opportunity for women to pursue careers. I would say that “the strong pro-motherhood feeling” on display here is more of a continuation of decades-long resistance to feminism than a backlash against anything.

]]>
By: Paul http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-638079 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 18:25:27 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-638079 I wonder if the strong pro-motherhood feeling is at least partly inspired by a backlash against the perception that the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s was hostile to motherhood and raising children, and that it only valued careers outside the home. That might not have really been the case, but I think that many people perceived it that way.

]]>
By: The Rebel Lettriste http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-637937 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 16:36:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-637937 What I like is being congratulated, in breathy tones, for being able to continue to work AND nurse my babies. It’s just “awesome” and “amazing” that I am able to write papers and go away (for some 30 hours) to a nearby conference. Everyone wants to know how it was, you know, being apart from them. Wasn’t it hard?!?

Um. It was restorative and I finally got some sleep. They were fine, I was fine, and look, I still have a career.

It’s difficult carving out the time to work a bit every day, but jeezus fuck. I nurse them, they wear cloth diapers, and yes, I still am a medievalist. And I nurse them and diaper them thus largely because I’m cheap. There are two of them. That’s a lotta formula and huggies.

]]>
By: An organic cotton layette of one’s own? (Srsly?) : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-637814 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 14:06:37 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-637814 [...] we’re on the topic of “the ideal of the good mother” and her evil twin, the &#8220…, I thought I’d share this trenchant observation from The Rebel Lettriste: I have found the [...]

]]>
By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-637802 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 13:28:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-637802 Wini: interesting points. It seems like the childcare industry is captive to all of this rhetoric about perfect mothering, too. And, let’s face it: they’re in a terrible position training people who are doomed to lives of low wage work, because of the very low esteem we as a culture put on caring for young children. The only way out of that trap is either to go into academia or enter the managerial track. It’s very sad and disturbing to see the effects this construction of motherhood has on the people who spend their days caring for other people’s children–as though that’s not work that entitles them to a living wage, health care, and a middle-class life of their own.

As Janice says, “The Whig of Illusory Progress always comes back into fashion, I find.” There is little new under the sun for women. And as Susan pointed out way upthread, making the “choice” between either breastfeeding and cloth diapers, OR a career, is idiotic reductionism as well as nothing new.

]]>
By: Janice http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-637382 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 02:22:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-637382 Ah, maternal feminism as a justification for keeping women out of the public sphere and the workforce. Didn’t we see very much these same arguments in nineteenth century publications?

The Whig of Illusory Progress always comes back into fashion, I find. *sigh*

]]>
By: wini http://www.historiann.com/2010/06/08/the-conflict-encore-vraiment-or-mamas-got-a-brand-new-whig/comment-page-1/#comment-637319 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 01:25:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11281#comment-637319 Why just today I was reading about how women that leave their children for more than a couple hours are dooming them to a life of “regression.” I hope that means that the kid will get smaller and smaller until they vanish into a speck of dust. It was a fascinating discussion because the child in question would have spent the night alone with his… father. Oh no! A 15 month old alone for a whole night with his dad!

I now teach at a school with a large, respected Child Development program. It seems to be staffed largely by women and have largely female graduates. From what I can tell, although I haven’t looked into it too closely, this school is a actually a *source* of a lot of the anti-women, heteronormative discourse in my city. I know three women with Master’s Degrees from the program that have never used them (okay, I’m not sure about 1 of them, but the other 2 got the degrees and just continued to stay at home with their kids). On the local email lists, people regularly post studies (or is that “studies”) about how horrible women are for having careers, saying “I took a Child Development Course at Local University.” What gives??!?! I am choosing to believe that these people have poor reading comprehension skills, were C students, etc., but I’m becoming increasingly interested in this entire field.

Of course, I benefit from this program everyday because my son’s day care is staffed by its students and graduates.

]]>