Zoe Strimpel

Great expectations | 12 April 2018

We idealise our mothers while also blaming them for our own faults and the ills of the world, argues Jacqueline Rose

In a 1974 interview celebrating the quarter century since the publication of her classic The Second Sex (1949), Simone de Beauvoir recalled a eureka moment in which she saw that ‘to change the value system of society was to destroy the concept of motherhood’. That ‘value system of society’ rested on what she saw as enforced maternity, whereby women — whether through physical, psychological or social pressure — were pressed into humiliating servitude, a world of narrowed horizons and debasing physical shame.

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