Motherhood: The Mother of All Sexism by Marilyse Hamelin

When I first received this review copy in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or even if I would be interested in it, since neither my wife nor I am a parent. Nevertheless, I started reading it, and as usual, I got caught up in the subject and learned a few things along the way. Until I read this book, I have never fully understood why, when a child is sick, that it is the mother that needs to drop everything (including her work) and retrieve the child from daycare or school. Why can’t the father ever do this? Ms. Hamelin examines this in Chapter Two: Why Are Mothers Still the Default Parent?

Obviously, in single-parent families headed by women, the mother alone is in charge of organizing the family. But for the majority of heterosexual couples, the mother is still the first responder or “default Parent” if you will. “The system is set up so that mom is the indispensable parent, creating a sense of guilt for working mothers,” [Marianne] Prairie argues. The general anxiety mothers feel doesn’t come out of nowhere – women are cogs in a well-oiled machine, their minds constantly on overdrive to keep up.

Other chapter titles explore various facets of parental equality and how it can be attained. (Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North America that provides leave exclusively for fathers.) To highlight a few:

  • Chapter Three: Involved Dads: Obstacles and Prejudice
  • Chapter Four: Sharing Parental Leave – A Radical Step?
  • Chapter Five: Are Generation Y/Millenial Parents More Equal?

All of the chapters are vastly interesting, informative, and most importantly, perspective-altering. A particularly significant and relevant book for the times. Motherhood: The Mother of All Sexism was translated from the original French by Arielle Aaronson, who also translated QC Fiction’s Behind the Eyes We Meet.

Motherhood: The Mother of All Sexism by Marilyse Hamelin
Baraka Books

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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.

2 thoughts on “Motherhood: The Mother of All Sexism by Marilyse Hamelin”

  1. Another good one! I am one of those “default parents”. And most of my friends experience the same thing. For the life of us we can’t figure out why it’s still happening. I’ll have to add this to my list!

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