Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women's Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother

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The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women's Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Berry, a lawyer, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a University of Pennsylvania history professor, follows her Why ERA Failed with this absorbing book, a rallying cry for making child care the equal province of both parents. Using interesting historical detail from colonial times to the present, the author shows how gender politics have shaped the practice of American child care, and she lays out society's rationales for absolving men of responsibility for child care. Berry maintains that fathers played a more important role in their children's upbringing prior to the 20th century. She also offers the African American perspective. Included in the chronicle are slaves and slave mistresses, Jane Addams, Phyllis Schlafly, Thomas Jefferson, Reagan, Bush, the present Supreme Court and a litany of bills and laws that have failed to solve the problems. Berry makes a strong case that women must lobby to have men assume an equal share of child rearing if women are to pursue careers. Mar.
Library Journal
In a timely and fascinating book, Berry, a lawyer and University of Pennsylvania history professor, reviews the social history of the American family in support of the thesis that the ``mother care tradition'' is purely a result of acculturation, that it is ``neither traditional nor necessary,'' and that it reinforces male dominance. An acute sense of the painfulness of social change and the difficulty of building a political consensus are successfully conveyed through the history of day care and parental leave legislation. However, Berry's emphasis on acculturation becomes didactic and impersonal; it slights the complex genetic heritage that is the ultimate source of individuality as well as gender identity and that complicates the issue of defining and achieving workplace ``equality.'' The gender-neutral Pregnancy Act did not, as the author erroneously states, entitle women to an ``unpaid disability or maternal leave with guaranteed job reinstatement'' precisely because it addressed motherhood in terms of political realities divorced from biological ones. For academic and larger public library social science collections.-- Carol Watwood, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140233605
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,078,495
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Problem 1
I Searching for Solutions 27
II Father Care, Other Care 42
III Mother Care, Other Care 65
IV Reinforcing the Mother-Care Tradition, 1900-1930 85
V Extending the Mother-Care Tradition, 1930-1960 102
VI Challenging the Mother-Care Tradition, 1960-1980 123
VII The Mother-Care Tradition Renewed, 1980-1988 147
VIII Toward a National Child-Care Policy, 1988-1990 171
IX The Next Agenda 196
Notes 221
Bibliography 271
Index 289
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