[DWJ] Bad Mothers (was HP)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed May 16 09:30:30 EDT 2007

Charlie wrote:

>Isn't it Mrs Jellaby in *Bleak House *who neglects her own children because
>she's so concerned about the ones in Africa? That kind of moral hyperopia
>has a long literary heritage, I guess. But it's given an extra twist
>in *Conrad's
>Fate* because the mother has built a career out of presenting herself as
>part of an exploited group, while being a prime exploiter of that group
>herself, in the person of her own daughter, whom she undermines ('You're not
>clever enough to go to university!') and treats as a skivvy. It's this which
>gives her selfishness a particularly hypocritical edge, and one which
>derives directly from her self-identification as a feminist.

Ain't it though.

I remember my mother and Diana having a discussion once in which they
expressed a vague disquiet about the liberation of women leading to the
liberated women leaving their children to be looked after by someone else,
and the someone else always seeming to be another woman (whom they paid as
little as possible for the job because if they paid the woman as much to
look after their child as they were earning being whatever it was they were
being, there would be no point in them being whatever it was rather than
staying at home).  The question arose at that point as to just exactly how
liberated the child-minders felt.

It's very awkward, isn't it.  Women obviously ought not to enjoy any job
(or perhaps anything) more than they enjoy looking after their children,
because if they do so, they stand condemned as selfish.

Of course, it is selfish to have children at all.  *sigh*  Does anyone
really decide to have a baby entirely for the baby's benefit, and not at
all for her own sake, intending to devote herself exclusively to that baby
until it is an adult?  If so, how does she find out in advance what the
*baby* feels about such an act of self-sacrifice being committed for its

Thus the only properly feminist stance would be not to have any children.
It's a pity that this would lead directly to the creation of a stereotype
of the feminist as a sexless creature who probably "can't get a man"
because she is hopelessly unattractive for some reason.

And here we go round again...


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