The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  94 reviews
In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Time Bind, The Conflict, a #1 European bestseller, identifies a surprising setback to women's freedom: progressive modern motherhood

Elisabeth Badinter has for decades been in the vanguard of the European fight for women's equality. Now, in an explosive new book, she points her finger at a most unlikely force undermining the...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Metropolitan Books (first published January 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,036)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Luisa Fer
Before reading this book, I had read an interview in a Quebec newspaper where Elisabeth Badinter outlined the book's main ideas. I found her incredibly lucid and courageous.

It is true that we live in a child-centric society, how we got here is to some extent explained in Le Conflit. The feminist waves had a peak and then they crashed. She argues that right now, the new generation of women are caught between the environmentalist movements, the anger at their own mothers who fought to achieve equa...more
Molly Westerman
This book is like a collection of missed opportunities. It addresses hugely important questions, but in so few words (160 page in huge type) that the analysis is surface-level at best and often downright nonsensical. It's about vital and deeply personal issues but manages to be quite boring. It critiques contemporary parenting culture's use of "the natural," which really is incredibly problematic, but in ways that more like pot shots at women (the ones who parent in ways that annoy or disgust th...more
Edina Rose
This book says loud some of the things I believe in. There shouldn't be unnecessary conflict between being a good mother and being an accomplished woman who fulfills her potential. Juggling motherhood and family, social and professional duties is challenging enough as it is. Why should excessive demands be put on mothers in the name of the children's well being?

Well, I think lots of these demands are really unnecessary. If you don't want to breastfeed, then don't. If you want to use good childc...more
Stephanie
May 01, 2012 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The "Women Get Stupid After They Have A Child" guy I work with.
Recommended to Stephanie by: New York Times
Thought provoking ideas about modern feminism, exhaustively researched and presented in 113 pages. I'd love to be able to point my friends, dates, and coworkers (I'm talking to you, Mr. "Women Get Stupid After They Have A Child") toward this book for a better understanding of the economic and social realities a woman faces as she attempts to hammer out her identity as a woman and a mother. Unfortunately, the book's lackluster translating and editing takes much of the thunder out of the rhetoric-...more
Beberouge
I struggled with Badinter's theories in this book, at times becoming angry at her and wanting to scream that being a stay at home mother by choice is no less honorable than working up the corporate ladder. Giving all to my children does not make me less of a woman or put those woman who wish to climb the corporate ladder back many years in the fight for equality.
Andrew
A One-Minute Review
Elisabeth Badinter’s The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women will delight and annoy all points of the political spectrum. This usually indicates a great book. From page one, Badinter launches a reasoned, but powerful, feminist critique at the worrying results of the cult of all-encompassing motherhood. She describes a society pushing mothers to be mothers. Mothers aren’t mothers and workers, mothers and women, or even mothers and lovers. Mothers are...more
Gail
In her latest feminist missive, Elisabeth Badinter seems determined to conceal a number of extremely important points with wandering discussion; layers of dry, sarcastic vitriol (particularly directed at La Leche League); sweeping generalizations; and an almost tangential conclusion. Her message: thanks to changes in feminist theory and the vaunting of all things natural, a new "high ideal of motherhood" as full-time and all-embracing (i.e., the belief "that a good mother takes constant care of...more
Kathleen
I had heard how awful this book is, but I figured that it couldn't be so shrill and reactionary as people claimed. I wanted to read it, both as a feminist and as someone considering having kids.

Holy god, this book is awful. Seriously. Before I get into how awful this book is, there's one good point that Badinter makes that I want to acknowledge. Women who don't have children are looked at as selfish or narcissistic or otherwise dysfunctional in some way for not having children. However, many if...more
Lara
I was excited when I was notified of my library hold coming up on this book. I couldn't wait to read it, because I felt it must be expressing what I live every day in terms of conflict between professional fulfillment and present parenting of my children.

While I was disappointed, some of Badinter's arguments are interesting. I found the discussion surrounding the status of parents in scandinavian countries relevant. I was interested in her claim that a majority of women in sweden are employed in...more
Nicole
This book really thoroughly addressed the issue of how the "naturalistic" (emphasis on breastfeeding etc) form of parenting inspires guilt within young mothers, and in their efforts to live up to these pressures, are further tied to the home, which was a perspective I had not really considered before. It has a lot of relevant stats, and while Badinter is obviously attempting to paint a certain picture here, she does a good job of not being preach-y. She had a lot of interesting ties to history a...more
Cat
Although this book isn't much more subtle than the title suggests, it's still worth a read for Badinter's explanation of the post-60s-feminist backlash embodied by the cult of natural motherhood as woman's highest achievement. Among some otherwise liberal and well-educated women, the anti-crib, anti-bottle, attachment parenting (read: mothering) method has become so doctrinal that it's a relief to hear Badinter stubbornly ask why, given the environmental and individual costs of children, remaini...more
Nancy
Hm, well: not quite what I was expecting. Elisabeth Badinter has written this rather polemical work on the modern concept of Motherhood (the capital letter is deliberate, as Badinter finds the concept to be almost mythological in its power and scope) and the ways in which it confines and oppresses modern women. So, FYI: don't be thinking this is a research piece. She cites research but does not discuss it in depth; mostly this is a big strop on the sheer weirdness of the cultural shift away from...more
Courtney Sieloff
Provocative book in the era of perfect parenting, I'm-not-perfect parenting, and every style in between. The irony of reading this on my kindle while nursing my infant at 4am was not lost on me. However the author did seem to miss that all of these styles are choices that individuals can chose to make. She did correctly identify that American parents are much less supported in child rearing than are French parents. I have to wonder if all of the "attachment" parenting is a protest of government...more
Iris
Aug 17, 2011 Iris marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: some-other-eon
Couldn't resist grabbing this after Jane Kramer's fabulously skeptical profile of Badinter in the New Yorker. Best anecdote: Badinter bemoaning her "execution" by her audience at Princeton, where she gave a talk on how French women enjoy sex more than American women because French women are chill about hygiene and are heirs to 18th-century aristocratic salon conversation. Oui, this is representative of one branch of le monde intellectuel en France.
Jennifer
Ce que j'ai de plus positif à dire de ce livre est qu'il était écrit gros et espacé avec des marges généreuses, ce qui en facilitait la lecture. Non mais sérieusement, je pense qu'on a voulu aborder beaucoup de sujets dans ce bouquin, ce qui fait qu'on reste souvent en surface et que le jugement de valeurs ne cesse de transparaître.

J'avais envie de lire sur le choix de la non-maternité sans nécessairement passer par un discours qui aliène les femmes qui font le choix d'avoir des enfants et d'all...more
Anna L. Peak
A quick read, and nothing in it that I really disagreed with, but still a disappointment; it could, and should, have been so much better. The book appears to be the Sparknotification of Badinter's earlier work on mothers, which I hope is more thorough and cohesive than this.
Stacie Bryant
This book was comforting to read. Most of the statistics cited in the book are European. It is nice to know that there are many other women in the world who are "child-free", since it feels like society labels you as they would a leper if you don't have children.
Robin Rousu
Probably not the best choice of reading material at 8.75 months pregnant, but it does gives the topic a certain urgency and extreme personal relevancy...
Sandy D.
I'm beginning to think that philosophers should not write books on feminism or motherhood. This short book wasn't as bad as Linda Hirshman's polemic ("Get to Work"), but it was still infuriating.

Badinter's basic premise is that "An underground war is now being fought between naturalist and culturalist proponents of motherhood" (p. 31), and that children's needs are being pitted against women's needs. By "naturalist", she means anything that people argue is "natural" - especially attachment pare...more
Amanda
I expected more from this book. I found the text sorely lacking in several areas. There are interesting arguments to be made about the so-called mommy wars, but ultimately, I think this one falls short for several reasons:

- There is no index. This makes writing a review, even a quick one for Goodreads, extraordinarily frustrating unless one reads with a notebook or has the time and inclination to browse through the text to double-check all references. I have neither the time nor the inclination...more
Deborah Markus
I'm not sure what to say about this book. Badinter brings up important issues, but doesn't offer much in the way of viable answers. And some of the points she brings up are, well, kind of pointless. What on earth do painkillers or lack thereof for laboring mothers have to do with "the status of women"? I know, I know -- she's talking about "the naturalists" and how they're trying to turn all women into martyr-mamas. But some of us weren't embracing the ecstasy of pain when we made the decision n...more
Jenne
The book reads like an attack on women, bad mouthing any and all in a snide tone, while at the same time pleading for sympathy and recognition of the (10-30% of) women who choose to remain childless. The author appears to blame children and parenthood for why women and men cannot compete in the marketplace of professionalism, without taking thought on the ways that professionalism is a cultural construct that did not develop in a way to promote the natural state of procreation and parenthood tha...more
Ciara
although this book earned but one star from me, i didn't hate it or anything. i honestly couldn't muster up too much of a reaction to it. maybe that is due in part to the fact that the writing was really dry & toneless, but this was originally written in french & translated for english-reading audiences. maybe it was a bit more engaging in the original.

i think the more likely reason i didn't really have feelings about this book is because i didn't really intend to read it. you'd think i'...more
Cindy
On occasion I will pause to consider the merits of motherhood, but inevitably conclude that the level of devotion required would extinguish all personal and professional goals, desires, and whims. As Badinter points out in The Conflict, “insisting that the mother sacrifice the woman seems to delay her decision to have a child and possibly discourages her from having one at all.” Hedonism always wins out for me, and the epidural-rejecting, on-demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping, daycare-shunning ve...more
Cristine
My understanding is that this book was translated from French so perhaps that explains the dryness in which it reads. It does have a lot of interesting information and I agreed with a great deal of it. However the delivery was lacking.

I certainly did not agree with the attack on breastfeeding as tying a mother down. Either way, I had to feed my children and the immense benefits for both the baby and I aside, I think it was easier than formula feeding would have been.

All of that said, I agree tha...more
Lucinda
I was not expecting to have so many issues with this book, particularly because I am very sympathetic to her overall arguments. I agree with Badinter that there is a prevailing ideology of 'natural motherhood' today that affects all women, whether you have children or do not. I also agree that this ideology is most visible and vociferous when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Women are monitored and regulated from all sides when they are pregnant, whether you choose to have a...more
Katie
I have to say, I liked this book more than I expected. It was a lot more academic than I thought it would be, but honestly that tipped it over more to four stars than if it had been more of a "rant."

There are points when I can picture Badinter saying things with a big glass of red wine and a cigarette dangling from her finger, and it sort of makes me giggle. Overall, though, I thought that there wasn't a whole lot of opinion - just a lot of questioning and data (oooh, SO much data), and I apprec...more
Geoff
I did not read this book because I expected to agree with all of the author's theories and conclusions, and that expectation turned out to be accurate. Badinter uses phrases like "the ayatollahs of breast-feeding," which pretty much lets you know what kind of criticism you are in for (i.e., not the unbiased kind). Nonetheless she makes some interesting points, and I think "The Conflict" is worth reading just to have your thoughts provoked. Badinter sees the movement towards "naturalism" in birth...more
Alexis
This book made me furious, and I don't even have children. It was about how modern motherhood and the ideals of motherhood are restricting to women. There were chapters about the idea of naturalism and how it restricts women, as well as facts about childcare/ child rearing etc and the sacrifices women have to make and some of the stereotypes and facts about childrearing etc.

Basically, the main thesis is that the way we approach motherhood and childrearing and its many facets are restricting to a...more
Milka
What bugs me the most about this book is how skewed the research data is to prove Badinter's points. As an opponent of breastfeeding, describing mothers as enslaved to their baby, she manages to use the most extreme and controversial quotes. It's as if she's trying to show how nuts some women are when it comes to breastfeeding. I've always seen it as a personal choice, one I hope many new mothers can make. I cringed when Badinter mentions that mothers can experience sexual pleasure from breastfe...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Feminist Reading ...: The Conflict 16 30 Jul 15, 2012 06:59PM  
  • The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women
  • The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family
  • The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century
  • Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men
  • The Boundaries of Her Body: A Shocking History of Women's Rights in America
  • The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy
  • Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness
  • Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself
  • Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood
  • Women, Culture, and Politics
  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality
  • The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued
  • Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature
  • Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women
  • Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It
  • The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability
  • The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
  • What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France
Elisabeth Badinter is the acclaimed author of three seminal works on feminism—The Myth of Motherhood, Wrong Turn, and Masculine Identity—which have been translated into fifteen languages. Badinter teaches philosophy at the école Polytechnique in Paris, where she lives.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/elisab...
More about Élisabeth Badinter...
XY: On Masculine Identity Mother Love: Myth and Reality: Motherhood in Modern History L'un Est L'autre: Des Relations Entre Hommes Et Femmmes Dead End Feminism Condorcet, 1743 1794: Un Intellectuel En Politique (French Edition)

Share This Book