Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression

I’ve speculated a couple of times that feminism is a huge risk factor for postpartum depression. This comes from anecdotal observation of new moms who were shocked that being a mother restricts their freedom to do what they want, when they want. Most of the people reading this are male, so this conception of “commitment” is going to be somewhat incomprehensible to you. But you have to keep in mind that women love the sorts of commitment that are associated with high status (think of higher education) and motherhood is probably the first hard thing they’ve had to do in their lives without the full-throated support of authority and the larger society. These days, it’s probably their first time going against the grain, and on top of that the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

As a relatively minor stress test of my idea, I’m going to compare it to the “Ten Common Fantasies about Motherhood” from the book Postpartum Depression for Dummies. Here’s a quote from the introduction to establish that the author comes from approximately a big brain centrist background:

You’ll also notice that I refer to a mom’s partner quite often throughout the book. As much as possible, I used the gender-neutral reference because I fully understand the fact that nowadays many couples are same-sex parents (and a good number of the couples I’ve counseled are same-sex parents). Sometimes, though, being politically correct is extremely tedious in writing, so in those cases, I used the masculine form — please note that this usage was only a technicality, though, and I in no way am leaving anyone out of the picture.

-Shoshanna Bennett, Postpartum Depression for Dummies

Here are the two place where I’ve floated my proposition before:

Post-partum depression is a failure of transference from the egocentrism of young women to the child-centrism of mothers, which typically arises from a feminist ideological resistance to the change in life roles. Women who lack nurturing instincts due to extreme fast life history strategies don’t experience post-partum depression because they don’t experience depression in general, so post-partum depression is a very socially mediated, slow life history phenomenon. Having internalized feminism, these young women experience nurturing instincts as a form of narcissistic injury and spend their early twenties successfully repressing these desires. When pregnancy and child-bearing bring these instincts on in an extremely heightened state of emotion, it’s experienced as trauma.

A few observations re: normie stress responses

In a bit more detail:

In my somewhat limited experience, I’ve seen that this is related to failures of transference in big life stage transitions. “Transference” refers to things like the Oedipal complex transferring to the more generalized, symbolic “feminine”. I think there are other such transitions, like when a girl’s self-love transfers to motherly love for her baby. She goes from being the center of her own world to the baby being the center of her world.

But transference has a lot of requirements that I don’t think we understand. You have to have stores of willpower, first of all. That’s why Freud gave up on hypnotism. As he described it, his patients achieved insight under hypnosis but failed to achieve emotional catharsis. I think an underexamined factor is you need positive cultural narratives to make the jump. For example, I believe a lot of post-partum depression is due to feminist propaganda that tells women “Your life is over now”. On top of that, you need a sense of safety and security.

These are death-rebirth cycles where you have to let go of the old you. Like we were talking about before, Americans don’t have the cultural software for this. Death represents moral failure. So people manage these transitions with repression instead of allowing natural changes to take place. They haven’t let go of the old way of being. An ex-convict may turn over a new leaf and try to be a completely different person by sheer willpower without balance. He’s going to have trouble because he’s not trying to be his best self, which includes integrating his natural disagreeableness into a mature disagreeable adult archetype. A disagreeable person can perhaps live as a prosocial disagreeable person, but not as an agreeable person. (Conscientiousness is a bit more malleable, though not infinitely.)

It goes back to that negotiation I referred to before. That’s why we call the process “coming to terms”. When we transition to a new phase in life, we have to assimilate the personal history into the new narrative. It’s kind of like expecting a guy who smokes weed and plays video games all day to shape up the day after he gets married. Sure, there’s a change in hormones that occurs. But a change of such magnitude is probably going to backfire unless the needs that drove the original behavior are met some other way. You can’t go from all-day dopamine to all-day self-control overnight and expect anything other than burnout and recidivism.

Depression, addiction, and the rise of Mr. Hyde subpersonalities

All right then, let’s see how well my proposition holds up against the top ten fantasies about motherhood. We’re going to see a lot of “just world” fallacies, because all women are normies.

In this tens chapter, I give you some of the most common myths that mothers have about motherhood. You can find plenty of mothers who actually believe that these fantasies are true. It’s wonderful for them if one or more of these fantasies do come true, but the danger is when women expect these fantasies to happen. When women expect motherhood to be one way and it turns out the exact opposite, they feel inadequate and as if they’ve failed.

So, it’s important not to begrudge a woman for having had one or more of these fantasies come true in her life — it’s nice for her. But, at the same time, remember that just because she ran across some luck doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

The following are ideas that many mothers, with or without depression, tend to believe. When PPD is present, however, believing these fantasies becomes even more painful because the feelings of self-worth and inadequacy are even more pronounced. In this chapter, I aim to help you blow these myths to smithereens so you can more comfortably embrace what’s true and real.

-The Dummies book again

You might be a basic bitch if you think…

This Should Be the Happiest Time in My Life

“If this is supposed to be the happiest time in my life,” you may be saying, “then I’m really doomed.” The truth is, when a baby first joins your family, it’s more like boot camp. So don’t worry if your days aren’t all filled with laughs, giggles, and smiles — this is hardly the happiest time in your life! Between recovering from stitches, aching in places you didn’t know existed, fatigue, hormonal sweats, mood changes, and a small but loud stranger demanding full-time care with no manual of directions, it’s no wonder that you shouldn’t expect this to be the happiest time in your life. You can certainly have joyful times during this period (finding these times is easier if you have only a mild case of PPD), but most of the happy times come later.

This actually goes against my thesis. If anything, it’s the opposite of feminism, which tells women not to have babies because their lives will be hell forever afterward. This belief is more the providence of Hallmark movies, which are perhaps equally pernicious but definitely not the same as feminism. Insofar as feminism sneaks into such fantasies it ruins them, like if you tried to make a progressive horror movie or high fantasy book.

I Should Be Able to Do Everything Myself

Today’s society values self-reliance to the point that people are often embarrassed to ask for help. They’re embarrassed because dependence, unfortunately, is often still equated with weakness. So, the faster you can free yourself from that unenlightened point of view, the better. Just remember that emotional, social, and physical support is necessary for everyone — even when there’s no baby and no depression.

As an example of society’s love of self-reliance, consider how many mothers (with partners to share the duties!) work full time outside the home and still expect themselves to have dinner ready immediately after work. Who made that rule? More importantly, why would anyone allow this rule to continue? Mothers who work inside their homes taking care of their children know very well that their efforts equate to more than a full-time job. To expect yourself to take care of a child and then have dinner made is asking a lot of yourself. If you’re able to achieve this feat sometimes, kudos to you, but don’t expect it. I suggest that if you have a partner or support person living with you, you share who puts dinner on the table. Or, decide that whoever makes dinner shouldn’t be watching the children at the same time.

My sister has triplets and this one alone ruined her life for the first two years as she went through a few full-time, high-powered jobs trying to find one she could hold down while also exclusively breastfeeding three babies (i.e. be the all-organic supermom). First of all, what the fuck. Secondly, gentlemen, you need to discuss reasonable expectations with your wives before 24/7 crisis time because they aren’t reasonable creatures. Women are less atomized than men by nature (being more tribal, more communitarian, and higher in GFP) This belief can absolutely be blamed on feminist beliefs and especially the corporations who championed it for cheaper labor, and to a lesser extent on the perverse commodification of the Puritan work ethic (there’s a book on that but it escapes me).

In America, the rule of thumb is that you’ll need three adults in the home to supply the man-hours needed to raise one child: two incomes and one full-time childcare provider. The only exception is if one of the two parents has a super-cushy job. (As triplet-mom sister recently said, she always wondered how single mothers work full-time and still raise kids and now she’s realized…they don’t. They just work full-time and the kids literally go feral.)

I Shouldn’t Need Breaks

A myth that often accompanies this damaging fantasy is, “If I love my child enough, I shouldn’t need a break from her.” There’s also the one that says, “My child is my responsibility. I don’t feel right asking other people to take care of her.” But, the truth is that every mom needs a break (and she isn’t a bad mom for believing so).

There are many different kinds of breaks to choose from. There’s the quickie ten minutes alone to take a shower kind and the spontaneous kind you get when your baby naps (unfortunately you never know for sure how long you’ll get). And then there’s the really nurturing kind that I focus on here. I describe this nurturing kind as at least two hours off duty to do something pleasurable for yourself. In other words, someone else is watching the children. You can be in your home or not, and it can take place at any time of the day. It doesn’t matter as long as you follow the pleasure and off-duty rules. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you should aim for at least four two-hour breaks per week (I go into detail on how you can manage this in Chapter 12).

If you think you don’t need breaks then you’ve never tried to do anything actually hard. Newborn babies are trial by fire on you mentally and physically, and it’s going to break down a lot of your luxury beliefs. This fantasy is basically a subset of the previous one.

My Life Won’t Change That Much

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A major fantasy that many pregnant women have is that they’ll be able to take their babies everywhere they go. These women are in the camp that says it’ll just be your life plus a baby — no big deal. They think that a baby is really portable: Just pop him into a baby carrier and off you go to that fancy restaurant. He’ll sleep right through dinner and you and your partner will gaze romantically into each other’s eyes, and no one in the restaurant will be disturbed. Are you laughing out loud yet?

One of the best things you (and your partner, if you have one) can do, is acknowledge the many ways your life will change — or is already changing — when a baby is present. For example, simply leaving the house with an infant in tow can take hours — even for a woman who’s mentally healthy. With depression and anxiety added to the mix, even the simplest of tasks are overwhelming and worrisome. What you’ll be able to do with your baby depends on many factors, two of which are the temperament of your child and your mental health. So, no matter what anyone else tells you, it’s okay if the family camping trip with your baby has to wait.

I told you the female conception of commitment would be incomprehensible to a male audience. It comes from self-sacrifice being something they’re inclined to by their sexual nature, so having a kid will be the first time they’ve engaged in love as a verb, which is the way we understand it from the necessities of the courtship process. This is probably the first time the young woman has had to give something up without receiving the feeling that she’s the protagonist of one of her girly novels, which is just basic economics.

I’m late, so it looks like this will be a two-parter. Update: Part 2.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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3 Responses to Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression

  1. Boneflour says:

    Hey, this is pretty good.

  2. bicebicebice says:

    >I’m late, so it looks like this will be a two-parter.

    don’t, you’ll make a great mother one day..?!?

    “the first time they’ve engaged in love as a verb” thats good, but how does this translate to the ritual of playing with dolls and teddybear tea-parties?or caring for a pony? I just want to hear you say it before “theres no connection and heres why”;

    a bad boy is just a righetous man who tells women (and homosexuals) to shut the hell up, if he is walking with Christ there will be a backhand added to the equation however good won’t don’t need beatings which kind of explains itself, just like real children have assburgers (neanderthlism) at 5 years old.

    a very good post my dude

  3. Pingback: Owl convo slash part 2 of “Ten common fantasies about being a new mother re: feminism and postpartum depression” | Aeoli Pera

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