The Spectacle Blog

Re: The Fairer Sex

By on 3.8.06 | 6:45PM

More International Women's Day press -- this time at the Guardian, where Madeline Bunting scorns Britain's -- and the West's -- active contempt of the culture of life. Searing stuff:

What use is that sassy, independent, self-assertive, knowing-what-you-want-and-how-to-get-it type when you fast forward five years to the emotional labour of helping a child develop selfconfidence? Once there's a baby in the cot, you need steadiness, loyalty, endurance, patience, sensitivity and even self-denial - all the characteristics that you've spent the previous decade trashing as dull or, even worse, for losers. Forget trying to work out your own feelings - you'll be too busy trying to work out those of your children; ditto self-confidence and self-expression.

Motherhood hits most women like a car crash: they have absolutely no idea of what is coming. Nothing in our culture recognises, let alone encourages, the characteristics you will need once a bawling infant has been tenderly placed in your arms. So the debate about the baby gap is about far more than tweaking parental leave; it's about what a culture values and promotes. And it matters not just because of that falling birthrate, but because of how women stumble towards their own private insights into the importance of mothering - to which they cling in the face of not just zero endorsement from wider society but active contempt.

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