21 May 2012

Women's Place - According to TIME

I have purposefully tried to avoid commenting on the latest fracas generated by a cover story at TIME Magazine. I've lifted the cover, depicting a mom breastfeeding her son; you can find the inside photos here. And you can find Katha Pollitt's typically astute commentary on the extremely regressive gender politics of "attachment parenting" and other child-rearing obsessions here at The Nation. As Pollitt rightly stresses, the issues here are political rather than about the ethics and idiosyncrasies of parenting. The punchline:
"Child-rearing fashions come and go, but they’re always about regulating the behavior of women—middle-class educated women. If these discussions were really about children, we would be debating the policies that affect them—what to do about our shocking level of child poverty, for example. It’s not on the radar except insofar as single mothers, with their selfish, licentious, man-spurning ways, can be blamed for it. Yet child poverty surely affects children’s well-being more directly, and more injuriously, than a pregnant woman indulging in the occasional glass of wine, or the momentous question of whether to use cloth diapers or disposable ones. And only tangentially are child-raising fads about fathers; men are more “involved” now than fifty years ago, but you won’t catch them beating themselves or one another up over not making organic baby food from scratch. Indeed, Time’s attachment-parenting package includes a humorous “Detached Dad’s Manifesto,” which suggests that Dad’s role is to provide “a little dose of fatherly distance” from attachment parenting’s heavy demands. That tells you everything you need to know about these guilt-inducing scripts."
Pollitt seems to me - as is usual - to be just about right on this episode. But I also want to point out that the folks at TIME seem to have a real talent at exploiting women for sensational and politically dubious purposes. I commented repeatedly here on an earlier installment - the propagandistic use the TIME-folk made of Jodi Bieber's image of a mutilated Afghan girl. This is the liberal media at work?

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