The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood

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From our regular book review column.

Author and sociologist Sharon Hays describes the “cultural contradictions of motherhood” clearly and precisely. The dilemma for many women is one of attempting to be a warm and nurturing mother figure in a society that values competitive self-advancement. The powerful bond of motherhood is highlighted throughout the book, and the concept of “intensive mothering” is described. The modern view of children as being “priceless” and innocent, and mothers as the custodians of these virtues, sets the framework for this cultural contradiction of motherhood. The issue is how to achieve and maintain this
commitment to intensive mothering in the self-interested and profit-driven society in which we find ourselves today.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(7):530-531