It is an interesting piece as our household transitions from one parent working to both parents working. While we both share childcare duties, Megs has been the one to stay home full-time even while writing a dissertation. Next week, she will step in the classroom for the first time and feels similarly to Roiphe about separation.
Roiphe's piece has been criticized for the following paragraph:
One of the minor dishonesties of the feminist movement has been to underestimate the passion of this time, to try for a rational, politically expedient assessment. Historically, feminists have emphasized the difficulty, the drudgery of new motherhood. They have tried to analogize childcare to the work of men; and so for a long time, women have called motherhood a "vocation." The act of caring for a baby is demanding, and arduous, of course, but it is wilder and more narcotic than any kind of work I have ever done.First, though I am not to knowledgeable on the literature of which she speaks, I find it a bit dubious when writing about a group of individuals and stating that all individuals have one view. It is especially dubious when failing to cite one of those writers and perpetuating the fiction that one writer stands for all of the writers. Maybe those that criticized Roiphe (follow the link), feel guilt for going back to work and valuing work over family. I don't know. But I do know that the controversial paragraph is not very controversial.
In defense of the post, Hanna Rosen writes that this is a "very neglected subject in both literature and philosophy and yes, also feminist writing," especially compared to erotic love. But does this establish a prima facie case that feminists are dishonest about the connection between a mother and her infant? If anything, it is a call that research needs to be done (ahem, Megs....) but this claim establishes nothing else.
But this leads to another problem: if you are not speaking out against something than you are complicit in your silence. This means that Roiphe and Rosen may speak out on this issue but are complicit on all of the issues on which they do not speak. I am sure the list is endless.
Then there is the notion of choice: Roiphe criticizes feminists for not allowing people to choose what they want to do or be, i.e. choosing motherhood over work. But this is an endless game. Roiphe is now condemning people for condemning a choice. This could go on endlessly if we choose.
It seems as if the controversy seems a bit manufactured. If you follow the link on the criticisms of this post you will find that some of the attacks on Roiphe's piece are quite misdirected and unsubstantial. There are better critiques of Roiphe's article. Nonetheless, as we in this household transition, I thought this piece may interest the readers and writers here even if this is a good piece of writing gone wrong.