In a recent “Review” section containing a variety of lifestyle content, the Wall Street Journal chose to give front page real estate to a short essay by Erica Jong, the author and pioneer of a certain feminist sexual frankness. The piece in question was an attack on attachment parenting (which has features such as babies sleeping in the bed with mother and father) and environmentalism (of the type which would urge the use of cloth diapers). Jong’s critique is broad and encompasses more than advertised. For example, at one point she expresses her frustration with Gisele Bundchen’s declaration that all women should breastfeed.
Of course Jong is upset. She is from a generation that eagerly embraced things like bottle-feeding and formula so as to gain a degree of freedom from the immediate needs of the infant. The important thing, from the ideological perspective, was that the child not get in the way of the aspirations of the mother.
Her attitude is summed up nicely here:
Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food, and eschew disposable diapers. It’s a prison for mothers, and it represents as much of a backlash against women’s freedom as the right-to-life movement (italics mine).
Jong repeats the tired old libel that the REAL reason for the existence of the right-to-life movement is that SOME people want to keep women down, keep them penned up in a kitchen or chained to a vacuum cleaner. It could never be that such people have some greater concern for, I don’t know, the right of an unborn child not to be arbitrarily killed. Nah.
The type of feminism on display is one which believes completely in doing what comes naturally when it comes to sex, but not with regard to reproduction or the nurture of children. To the extent that people such as Angelina Jolie or Gisele Bundchen (both singled out for criticism by Jong) represent a backlash against such callous attitudes, I say rage on.
Hunter Baker is associate dean of arts and sciences and associate professor of political science at Union University. He is the author of The End of Secularism and winner of the 2011 Michael Novak Award. His personal website is www.hunterbaker.wordpress.com.
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