“The Conflict” – Discussion Questions for the PAIL Book Club

Well, I’m sure several of you are out there gasping, frowning and nodding along as they make their way through this month’s book club pick The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. I’m also sure that those of you reading have a lot of things to say about Ms Badinter’s take on modern motherhood and thus, I present to you a list of discussion questions for you to consider as you write your final blog posts (due next Tuesday please ladies). Thank you so much to those who sent something in.

The Conflict discussion questions:

  • Would you call yourself a feminist (either publicly or as you think about yourself), and do you think that choice influences how you read this book?
  • What was your motivation for having a child? Badinter seems to think that most women do not really articulate their reasons, and those who do think it through often decide it is too onerous to have a child, at least in many societies. Did your experience of infertility force you to evaluate your motivations and expectations for motherhood? Do you think this influenced your experience of motherhood?
  • Badinter condemns the movement towards breastfeeding as forcing women to make themselves available to their babies constantly. How have you experienced breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding)? Are you someone who is happy to be at her child’s beck and call, or have you found ways to be an individual and a mother? How have societal expectations influenced your decisions?
  • There are several points in the book in which Badinter categorizes women (or cites other authors’ categories). Do you feel you can be typed? Have your ideas of what you find fulfilling changed since you had your first child?
  • Do you consider yourself a “naturalist” when it comes to motherhood and child-rearing, and if so did you feel hurt/offended by this book? Did it make you question your decision to be a naturalist parent or stir up feelings of regret? Do you feel the author made some good points, topics for discussion, or did you just want to hurl her book against a hard brick wall?
  • Do you feel the author is right to assume that there is always a struggle or negotiation for women between their role and desires as women and their role and desires as mothers?
  • If you left the workforce to be home with your kids, temporarily or permanently, did you find the need to continually rationalize your decision to yourself and others? Do you/did you feel pressure to return to the workplace or vise versa and have you ever felt threatened or made vulnerable by a dependence on your spouse for income?
  • Did you find yourself agreeing with Badinter’s assessment that if you fail to be a natural parent who eschews drugs during birth, breastfeeds, cloth diapers etc. society deems you an unfit mother?
  • Badinter makes a poignant point regarding women who experience infertility and are childless, stating that “those who can’t have children are expected to put up with it nobly.” As someone who has experienced loss and infertility, how did that statement make you feel?
  • Badinter talks a lot about family-friendly policies around the world, sometimes intended to shrink the equality gap between mothers and fathers–she uses Sweden as one of the most progressive examples. Do you think it’s possible for any government policy to bring equality to the sexes? Or does the role that mothers play trump any attempt to level the field?
  • Does it matter you, as a mother, that your choice to breastfeed, stay home etc. might undermine your status as a woman? Do you feel it’s your duty to help further the status of women by not giving into the pressures of modern motherhood?

Of course, you’re welcome to answer any of your own questions as well, but hopefully this will help you get started. Once you’ve written your blog post, please email the link to prairieplates@gmail.com no later than 6pm CST on Tuesday August, 14.

featured post: “Just What I Needed” by All the Sun For You

I will begin with an admission. I am having a very hard time lately, despite being magically pregnant. In fact, because of it. There are a lot of residual and unresolved feelings about our IF journey bubbling to the surface, with anger being chief among them. All the anger about things that were said, and never said, and never will be said.  If you read my blog, you know that I struggle very deeply with how to even go about posting about it. So instead, I bottle it all up and internalize it.

During one of these “Rage Simmers”, locked in the bathroom and flipping through my reader as a distraction, I read this post by Courtney at All the Sun For You. Now, I also need to admit that Courtney is a very close blog friend of mine, and has been an invaluable source of support for me via email as I don’t have the courage to blog about all the shitty parts of my IF journey. Usually, when I am feeling like I was, I seek out posts that validate that. So I began to read her post and was feeling that “Oh, yes. TOTALLY!” feeling of having a hard time with a random pregnancy announcement:

The reason being that when I was thinking of staying home with Matthew, I ran into this acquaintance and very excitedly told her that I was thinking of being a SAHM and she literally asked, “why would you want to do that?” while holding her 2 month old baby… I didn’t like that.  And now she gets a surprise baby?  BITTERNESS.

As I am also feeling some judgment (note: feeling versus actually being judged, but it still brings me down) on my decision to be a SAHM, coupled with the Rage Simmer, I was just eating it up. Like, exaggerated nodding and finger snapping style. And then, Courtney stopped me in my tracks. She goes to explain that the very next day she had an overwhelmingly positive experience at her RE’s office in preparation for their upcoming FET. She describes in wonderful detail how every single person in that office helped her and B have their son, and how much she appreciates that.

I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, and I saw all the people I wanted to see.

And I thanked my lucky stars that I do not have an “oopsie baby” on the way.  That I need these people to help me grow my family.  That I’ve made connections with these wonderful people who make building other people’s families their life’s work.

And now, for my final admission. I cried. I cried a lot. This post gave me perspective. This post inspired me to look at things with eyes wide open, beyond the narrowed focus of my anger. This post helped me realize that while I couldn’t find understanding then, I know there is support now. This post showed me just how far so many of us has come in our journeys, and how while our diagnoses remain the same, our attitudes about beginning treatment again can be so very different from the first time. Courtney’s outlook and general attitude on life never ceases to amaze me. Her energy gives me energy. And, as always, a very gentle kick in the butt.

This was just what I needed. I think you should check it out.

Please head over to All the Sun For You and check out “Just What I Needed.” Comments on this thread will be closed in an effort for you to connect with Courtney directly and share your thoughts with her.


If you have a post of any kind (old or new!), on any topic that you would like share, please fill out the form on the main Featured Posts page here. You are welcome to submit your a post of your own! 

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