Who is Elisabeth Badinter?

Have you heard of Elisabeth Badinter yet? If you haven’t, you should be prepared because you will. She’s everywhere stirring up controversy with her bestselling book. It was just released in the United States. Her book is called The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women.

The title pretty much says it all. The book came out this week so I haven’t read it yet. I’ve only read the hype about her book. It’s hard to miss. Lots of women are pissed off about it. The book has ignited just as much anger as the Rosen vs. Romney debacle.

Just who is this woman? Well, she’s French. Think Bringing up Bebe written by your really smart feminist grandmother. Oh, and minus all of the funny parts. She’s a retired professor with three grown children of her own.

She’s also super wealthy. Born and bred in what I call “old money rich.” She’s of a particular feminist brand that I have always found distasteful. Herself and the mothers who came before her had the privilege of being allowed to stay at home and raise their children. Both of my grandmothers worked in factories where they quite literally earned pennies for the hours they worked. They would have given anything to be able to stay home with their children. It’s pretty clear by Badinter’s statements that being a full time stay at home mom is her own version of hell.

I’m quickly becoming fascinated by this woman. She’s a trip! When it comes to parenting, there is attachment parenting on one end of the spectrum and at the other end you have Elisabeth Badinter. They could not be more diametrically opposed.

She’s convinced we’re moving backwards. And she does have a significant point there. When it comes to reproductive rights and health, we certainly seem to have stepped into a time machine.

One of the things that I find so intriguing is her strong disdain for the La Leche League. I know lots of mothers have problems with the militant approach of the La Leche League and rightfully so, but Badinter REALLY has a problem with them. I learned a new word from her. She calls the women in La Leche League “ayatollahs.” Huh?

I had to look it up. It means sign of God. It’s given to experts in religion, particularly Islam. What?

In an interview on Globe and Mail, “There are many ayatollahs of breastfeeding. Like the representatives of the La Leche League.” Whoa, lady. Let’s take it down a notch.

In the same interview she describes modern motherhood as “the motherhood of my great grandmother’s generation.” Really? I’m a bit doubtful we have reverted back to the 1800s in our parenting practices. I’m not exaggerating when I say 1800s because well, I don’t know how to say this nicely. Badinter is old.

She’s 68. Certainly old enough to be my grandmother.

Do you get insulted when your grandmother insults your mothering instincts and tactics? Of course not. It’s your grandmother and who gets mad at their grandma? You nod and smile. And don’t give it another thought.


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