I’ve followed with only an exhausted disinterest the “controversy” over Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Motherover the past few weeks. Having been scolded by readers for daring to express opinions on this blog from my perspective as an American women’s historian about modern discourses on motherhood without revealing myself either as a mother or as a non-mother has tried my patience in the past, and the whole fracas over Chua’s book (which was really about her article in the Wall Street Journal, which was clearly calculated to raise people’s blood pressure and get hits to the website) just seemed so calculated to get people–especially XX-chromosome people–whipped up into a lather as they performed their motherhood superior dances.
Fortunately, Tenured Radical breaks it down and explains it all in two posts, the first about the fact that “Middle Class Child Abuse is Not an Asian Thing,” and the second in which she writes about “How Amy Chua Made Me Think About Feminism” after actually reading Chua’s book! Here’s an excerpt from the second post:
I can also now answer question The Los Angeles Times asked today: “What’s Behind Our Obsessive Amy Chua Disorder?” The answer, I think, is that mothering is more or less a cursed profession that is analogous to being a professional homosexual, which is what I do when I am not being a tenured college professor. As with mothers mothers, people always feel like they must have — nay have a right to have — opinions about homosexuals, regardless of how silly or unwelcome those opinions are. The less people know about real homosexuals, the more they feel like they have to have an opinion about us. . . .
. . . . . . . . .
Similarly, from reading Chua and reading about her, I have discovered that there is really a struggle over what constitutes good motherhood which is not likely to make any difference to anyone. I’m not involved in the Mommy Wars: in fact, as I am not a Mommy, I have only heard rumors of them, not experienced them first hand. As I understand it, they revolve around:
- Men who insist on mansplainin’ about what constitutes good mothering;
- Women lecturing other women about what constitutes good mothering;
- Women’s ambivalence about the act of mothering, expressed as hostility towards other mothers;
- Why and when we decided that men ought to be heaped with praise for any or all acts that are similar to mothering.
By the way, don’t miss the comment from “Adjunct Papa,” who wants TR to know how really, really difficult it is to be a daddy, and how he really doesn’t want cookies and cocoa and snuggles and slankets for actually caring for his own children. Really. Even though TR carefully explained that she wasn’t writing about daddies wanting extra credit, when she clearly asked “why and when we [as a culture] decided that men ought to be heaped with praise for any or all acts that are similar to mothering.” (Sniff!)
I will tell you this about my personal life, friends: I am not now, nor have I ever been a father.