In just over a week, Erica Jong’s Wall Street Journal essay, Mother Madness, has become the stuff of Internet legend. Jong’s piece, which questions why modern mothers would put up with the prison created by motherhood and green living, notes:
“Attachment parenting, especially when combined with environmental correctness, has encouraged female victimization. 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. “
While I can’t speak for the Inhabitots team in full, I do know that many of the mama writers here aren’t happy with Jong’s sentiments, self included. Jong’s essay includes many mistaken assumptions. Read on to discover Jong’s four biggest mistakes as I see them.
Mistake #1: Attachment parenting and green living is the norm.
After ranting on and on about how attachment parents are basically bumbling idiots who blindly follow whatever we’re told to do, Jong closes her piece with the following, “”We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules.”
It’s ironic that Jong insists mothers be “released from guilt,” considering her piece attacks the choices of what, in reality, is an extremely small percentage of parents. Reading Jong’s essay you might assume that the entire planet is breastfeeding, co-sleeping and stock piling homemade baby food and that unsuspecting mothers see these practices and just fall in line like sheep.
Jong says, “green parenting—homemade baby food, cloth diapers, a cocoon of clockless, unscheduled time” is the new ideal. However, her assumptions about the new ideal are sorely off. For example, did you know that fewer than 10% of U.S. parents use cloth diapers? In the U.S. fewer than 40% of women are still breastfeeding at six months. A 2006 study showed that just 15% of children and parents co-sleep.
Where’s this massive attachment parenting and green living movement? I haven’t seen it. Parents making attachment parenting and green living choices aren’t the sheep in this scenario, but rather the exception.