Was it something I said?

Salon has a review of the Maternal Desire: On Children Love and the Inner Life by psychologist Daphne de Marneffe. Here is a quote that is part of the tease to read the whole thing (for which you must either subscribe or watch an ad):

De Marneffe’s book is singular in that it isn’t polarizing. While she took about five years off from her therapy practice to raise her three children, and a chunk of her book is devoted to discussing the authentic, oft-ignored pleasures of primary caretaking, she doesn’t order her working-mother readers to go home and enjoy it, like she did. Rather, in a discussion that is part sophisticated self-help and part scholarly analysis of our culture’s attitudes toward mothers, de Marneffe urges each woman to think hard about how much time she wants to spend caring for her children vs. working, about whether she’s struck anything close to the right balance in her life.

Here is Jessa Crispin’s reaction:

F@#k Daphne de Marneffe and her new book Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life.

Did I miss something here? Given my gender this is dangerous ground I know, but is suggesting that perhaps motherhood is central to womanhood to be met with angry denuciation even if the person raising the isssue is a thoughtful feminist (or at least as described by Salon)?

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. listen up, Tim —



    (I think women who don’t want to have children get irritated by the suggestion that it’s intrinsic — somewhat like saying men are only as good as the amount of live baby batter they drop.)

  2. I want children, but I know well enough that it’s not intrinsic to every woman. Some who do have kids should never have procreated, and others who don’t desperately want one.

    But I think de Marneffe is being more complex about the issue than simply saying “oh yeah all women want babies.” So Jessa’s anger does still mystify me a little bit.

  3. Jessa clarified it a bit this morning. Even so, the interview and the book doesn’t suggest that all women should become mothers. But for the aspiring mothers and the aspiring motherless alike, this again brings us back to the central issue: how can the perceived antipodal schism between motherhood and feminism be bridged?

    And profuse apologies for mixing up Tim and Kevin. When I posted that entry, there was an urchin on crutches tugging at my pants, asking me for change. Of course, I did what any ordinary person would do under the circumstances. I kicked the little bastard down. So perhaps I’m not qualified to comment here.

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