How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering


Feminism and motherhood have long been cast as feuding sisters, one always attempting to undermine the other. In this calculation, women had to choose between the independence, education and self-expression of the feminist path and the nurture, sacrifice and child-centricity of the family path. The more feminist a woman is, the less appetite, it has been suggested, she will have for mothering.

Ironically, however, the opposite is true.

Women’s rising social and economic power has not squelched their desire to be mothers. Quite the opposite: it has enabled women to mother with ferocity. They research; they seek out best practices; they join a group, form a committee and agitate for their version of feeding/disciplining/sleeping. If you don’t believe me, just visit a breast-feeding support group with former litigators, marketing executives and investment bankers. Reluctant sucklers don’t stand a chance.

(MORE: Confessions of an Accidental Attachment Parent)


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Did you know? Reasonable break time for nursing mothers

In the United States Code, 29 USC 207 there is a entire section on employers providing reasonable time for breastfeeding mothers to break and express milk.

Here is the FEDERAL law:

(r) Reasonable break time for nursing mothers

(1) An employer shall provide—
(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and
(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
(2) An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph (1) for any work time spent for such purpose.
(3) An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
(4) Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.

The Politics of Mom

So it started in the pregnancy…I started to see that people inserted themselves into whatever decisions I was already making for the baby.  Then as soon as she was born it has been non-stop.  Are you breastfeeding?  Did you get a bassinet?  Why isn’t the room pink?  Where are her shoes?  Are you going to use cloth diapers?  Why did you choose that stroller? Are you going to let people hold the baby?  You have to let her cry it out etc…  These are some of the questions I encountered.  They actually still have not stopped it literally just depends on the setting.  From my point of view everyone thinks babies should be sleeping thru the night right away and that the mother is to blame if they are not.  I even watched a friend get scrutinized for having a glass of wine because she was breastfeeding.  The hardest part about motherhood is not always taking care of the kids, its doing things your way and ignoring the societal jabs about how you choose to raise your kids.  The lesson here is that when other people have children I hope that I can help them just see the blessing and not overwhelm them with my ideas on how they should choose to raise their kids.