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.