“Maternal love” is a humbug.

We talk romantically about the love between parents and their children, especially when those children are at their youngest. We write books about it, write poems about it, make sculptures about it. We praise it as the greatest feeling that exists. I think it’s absolute bullshit. I think we made up this concept to bolster procreation.

I also think it is a very dangerous concept and that it brings a lot of suffering. Women are indoctrinated to believe that having children is the greatest thing they could possibly do, and that the bond between a mother and her child is the greatest bond that can exist. We have seen the disastrous results of this dogma; not only does it ruins women’s lives, but it also isolates them emotionally, so that they are unable to get help or support.

You have to differentiate between “maternal instinct” with “love.” Those are already two completely different things. While many mothers do have a maternal instinct, many others do not, as the stories demonstrate. This is what makes the difference between being a happy mother and going through a living Hell. The existence of the maternal instinct, of maternal bonding, is not in question. It is biologically necessary in order to keep women in bondage in a monogamous, patriarchal society.

In reference to women, but in a comment which can equally apply to the way we treat children in our society, Andrea Dworkin says in Intercourse:

Who can love something that is less than human unless love is domination per se?

Now think about this concept of maternal love. How can you love a baby? Not in the “I love disco” sort of way, but in an emotional connection between two people? How can there be an emotional connection when one of the two parties is barely a person? Love can only exist between equals; the concept of a grown person loving a baby is asinine.

No less a feminist thinker than Simone de Beauvoir opined as such:

There is no maternal instinct; rather motherhood makes women’s body to be ruined. Motherhood makes women’s soul to be lost. Pregnancy is a sad story that occurs in women between her and her tragic story. Fetus is a parasite that feeds on the mother’s body. A woman who gives up herself to the nature is like a plant and animal. If your wife is assumes this nature, she is like a plant and animal. She is Woman Incubator.

Women are indoctrinated to believe in “maternal love” in order to fulfill their gender role of being “nurturers” and of being the primary caretakers of children. The best way to force someone to remain with someone else (even with abuse) is through love and hope of change. There is always the factual hope that eventually the child will no longer be completely dependent on the parents. So women must hang on and raise the child, because no one else will.

Here’s another problem. The primary emotion of a parent is not love but fear: fear that their child will not turn out “right,” fear that other people will think their child is not “right,” fear that their child will not love them, fear that their child will not follow in their footsteps. Love and fear cannot co-exist.

Here’s another problem. Who knows if the maternal instinct really exists at all? After all, those mothers who confess to not having any maternal instinct also say that they lie about it to other women in order to not be ostracized. How do we know they’re not all lying? How could we tell, really? (when I say “we,” I naturally assume none of my readers are mothers, a pretty safe assumption since this is an antinatalist blog)

Alison made an interesting comment to me on this topic. She noted that the claims of a maternal instinct is very similar to the claims of people who are “born-again.” They are both strong emotional reactions following a traumatic event and a complete change in one’s life.

And yet we know from some atheist testimonies that some “born-again” experiences are faked or greatly exaggerated. What if they all are? How could we tell the difference? Once again, there is a strong incentive for “born-again” people to lie about what has actually happened to them.

I am not stating for a fact that no one has ever had a “maternal instinct” or a “born-again” experience. I am simply saying that we don’t really know one way or the other, and that the claims being made by the true believers are prima facie dubious.

14 thoughts on ““Maternal love” is a humbug.

  1. Brad Reddekopp April 6, 2014 at 21:03 Reply

    I suspect that maternal instinct probably does exist, based on observed behaviour in non-human animals. After all, we’re not so different from them.

  2. 7-Methoxy-beta-Carboline April 7, 2014 at 01:30 Reply

    “Love and fear cannot co-exist.”

    Is this true?

    • Francois Tremblay April 7, 2014 at 01:38 Reply

      Probably not as an absolute statement, no… I should qualify it. But I certainly think they cannot co-exist for very long…

    • Brian L March 8, 2015 at 08:48 Reply

      Stockholm syndrome?

  3. maphisto86 April 7, 2014 at 22:03 Reply

    I found the article intriguing and a good critique of the wide spread notions concerning the “maternal instinct”. One quibble I have though is that you say you do not doubt the existence of the maternal instinct as a biological phenomena but then question it halfway through. In the earlier paragraph did you mean to say the “maternal instinct” was a social rather than biological necessity in order to keep women in monogamous, natalist bondage?

    • Francois Tremblay April 7, 2014 at 22:16 Reply

      My claim is that many women do not have a maternal instinct. I assume that others do, but it is an assumption. I quote Simone de Beauvoir as disagreeing. I don’t really have a final word on the issue.

      • maphisto86 April 7, 2014 at 22:30 Reply

        Ah OK. Thank you Francois for the clarification. I tend to think the “maternal instinct” is biologically present in all women but it is often exaggerated and can be overridden by other interests and desires based on the individual person. Not to mention it is a likely possibility that what we refer to as the “maternal instinct” is simply the parental feeling in both sexes towards their offspring but is “gendered” specifically for women. I have met many fathers who are just as or even more protective and nurturing towards their children then the latter’s mother is. Probably all comes down to individual personality.

  4. Anthony R April 9, 2014 at 01:29 Reply

    “Love can only exist between equals” – Bullshit.

    The rest of your article I agree with.

    • Brian L March 9, 2015 at 12:55 Reply

      Yeah, I truly loved my cats, and I don’t say that lightly.

  5. Brian L March 8, 2015 at 08:51 Reply

    I’m wondering where adoptive mothers fit into this picture.

  6. Kendall May 7, 2016 at 00:32 Reply

    I have a child, and I was told that after pushing her out I would feel some sort of euphoric feeling and I did not, I looked at my baby and felt very protective but emotionally I felt about the same towards her as the rest of my siblings. I agree that I do not think a “maternal” instinct exists, I think people in general are protective of babies and children (especially the ones they are close to) and I believe that’s because without us being protective they would just die, they’re honestly pretty pathetic.

    Also as she grows older I feel more and more close to her, and I know this is because she’s becoming “human”.

    Just thought I would add my perspective since you said you don’t think you have any child bearing readers ;)

    • Francois Tremblay May 7, 2016 at 01:26 Reply

      Hey no problem. Thank you for reading my blog. I can’t imagine you like the antinatalist stuff very much though…

      • Kendall May 7, 2016 at 10:44 Reply

        I find it very thought provoking, I already have brought a child into the world and I like your childism topics, Ive always disliked how parents and adults seemingly treat their children as though they understand their bodies more than the child themself does.

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