May 8, 2011

There was a time when Americans "believed in 'the empire of the mother' and grown sons..."

"... were not embarrassed about rhapsodizing over their 'darling mama,' carrying her picture with them to work or war."

That changed in the 20th century...
... under the influence of Freudianism, Americans began to view public avowals of “Mother Love” as unmanly and redefine what used to be called “uplifting encouragement” as nagging. By the 1940s, educators, psychiatrists and popular opinion-makers were assailing the idealization of mothers; in their view, women should stop seeing themselves as guardians of societal and familial morality and content themselves with being, in the self-deprecating words of so many 1960s homemakers, “just a housewife.”

14 comments:

Ron said...

So they could all become mothers like Betty Draper? Yikers!

Triangle Man said...

My guess is that many men have also been encouraged to acknowledge when their mothers have been abusive or mentally Ill or adicts rather than putting them on pedestals and pretending they were perfect.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Interesting article. Man, there are some bitter, bitter women in the comments. How is it that women who have clearly never had any threat or faced any actual sexism whatsoever so bitter and hostile?

I don't get it.

- Lyssa

Happy Mother's Day, Professor, as well as all of the other moms in the Althouse commenter world!

traditionalguy said...

Freud especially liked the rich sluts. He really did, because they were so easy to capture from their own disinterested husbands and would gladly abandon their families. Freud was only the first of many con men operating a medical propaganda charade that was only a con for easy sex and easy money. God bless the mothers who still provide their children stable love as they grow.

peter hoh said...

I suspect that Freud's greatest impact came from his influence on popular culture.

Not exhaustive, and not entirely on point, here's a salute to mom in the movies.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Typical of the invective against homemakers in the 1950s and 1960s was a 1957 best seller, “The Crack in the Picture Window,” which described suburban America as a “matriarchal society,” with the average husband “a woman-bossed, inadequate, money-terrified neuter”.

Sound like Park Slope in the 21st century.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

"Freud especially liked the rich sluts."

I feel like 'Freudianism, fascism, solipsism. All we are saying is "Give Peace a chance" to paraphrase John Lennon on this day in which we celebrate another of those damned Jews who the disciples saw on their way to Emmaus. According to the WSJ yesterday, the Jewish image of Christ in Western civ. began with Rembrandt who used a Jewish model; they have his Emmaus picture represented in the Weekend Edition. Fr. Rock O.Cist., with whom I discussed this was in the Zirc monastery in Hungary during the war. He recalled the Nazis telling him that Jesus was not Jewish. He asked them for their evidence and they referred to Jesus portrayed as a Roman ideal. In Fr. Rock's view this changed when the shroud of Turin was taken to Constantinople; the iconography changed to the image of a Jew after that.

Kathy said...

I am puzzled by the remark that stay-at-home moms have shorter work weeks than their husbands. I'm pretty much always working, not that I'm complaining. Perhaps they meant a different sort of stay at home mom?

Nate Whilk said...

There's a quote I can't find right now that was made by a major feminist, de Beauvoir or Friedan or someone of equal stature. It was to the effect that feminists must discourage the choice of being a stay-at-home wife and mother because too many women would make that choice.

Hagar said...

For most women, "a career outside the home" does not end up with anything like the heroines of TV.

If you have an urge to succeed in business, or whatever, and think you can cut it, by all means go for it.
But creating a stable family home is not such a bad career either, and will give more satisfaction if that is where your inclinations take you.

Hagar said...

Do not many women who work because they "ought to" wind up in jobs where they are kind of like "rent-a-mom's" in the workplace?

Kathy said...

When I was working, before kids, I noticed that the working moms in my office were unhappy generally with having so little time to spend with their kids, but had two primary reasons for working. They were afraid to be financially dependent on their husbands, and they didn't want to be responsible for housework. (They felt housework expectations would be higher if they stayed home. ) we have succeeded in convincing people that full-time motherhood (or fatherhood) is undesirable and unnecessary and even not feasible (ie the assumption that single incomes won't be enough).

Freeman Hunt said...

Kathy, that's what I saw too. And people wondered why I said I was never coming back once I had kids.

dick said...

I think that you need to rethink that whole thing. Check with the Italian, Latino and African American group of men as to how they think of their mother. It sure would not match up with the picture you write up in this posting. In fact if you dissed their mama, you would probably lose some teeth at a minimum. It may be true for WASPs but I doubt that it is true for anyone else. Same with Jewish mothers. After all the whole lineage of the Jews comes from their mother. All strictly practicing Jews I have had dealings with, and living in NYC I have had a lot of dealings with them, mama was very important to almost all of them. Even when mama was a real PITA she was still respected.