The politics of childbirth

In her new book Bumpology, the British science journalist Linda Geddes aims to ‘investigate the truth behind the old wives’ tales, alarming newspaper headlines and government guidelines’ that frame a woman’s pregnancy in the twenty-first century. Though her research led her to question the orthodoxy on drinking alcohol in pregnancy and exclusive breastfeeding, what ‘most […]

The ‘generation war’ over abortion rights

A generation war seems to have erupted in the US pro-choice movement. A front-page feature article in Time magazine, published in the 14 January edition, began with the bold statement: ‘Abortion-rights activists won an epic victory in Roe v Wade. They’ve been losing ever since’. The author, Kate Pickert, sees the famous US Supreme Court ruling […]

From the freewheelin’ Sixties to the fearmongerin’ Noughties

Arthur Marwick’s history of the Sixties, first published in 1998, is one of those books that you just want to have on your shelf. Covering every cultural development from the rise of the mini-skirt to the birth of hippy culture, from sex and urban planning to art, film and literature, it’s a fascinating romp through […]

How the nationalisation of parenting stoked the riots

‘We have nationalised child-raising’, claimed Shaun Bailey, head of the charity My Generation, during an autopsy of the riots and looting that swept England in summer 2011. Bailey continued: ‘People think that the government is responsible for their children – that weakens the family structure. One of the worst things as a parent is having […]

Divorcing marriage from morality

‘It is like a hydra: you cut off one head and get rid of a boring partner but inherit 26 new problems, your new partner’s children, family and so on.’ In such graphically grim terms did Sir Paul Coleridge, a senior High Court judge, launch a new campaign to promote marriage. Sir Paul told The Times (London) that he […]

A fresh-faced look at growing old

‘But hoping for worse health and shorter lives hardly seems consistent with the American dream.’ With such pithy insights, Susan Jacoby – the fiercely rational intellectual whose previous books include The Age of American Unreason – exposes the banality of modern prejudices that have become attached to old age and the process of ageing. One such prejudice […]

Parents should rise up against this neurotrash

A century ago, phrenologists would measure people’s heads in a quest to explain differences in their social position, and healthy, well-behaved families would be sent to ‘eugenics camps’ to breed more of their kind. Today, policymakers seek to explain everything from income equality to anti-social behaviour through the formation of toddlers’ brains, and parents are […]

These riots were not a product of permissiveness

It is hard to formulate a genuinely liberal response to the recent spate of riots and looting in Britain. You get caught between two dystopian, and equally depressing, visions of society: one where the consequences of the cultural, moral and legislative changes associated with the permissive Sixties are leading us to hell in a handcart […]

Lib-Con family policy: Maggie meets Mary Poppins

Having spent years criticising New Labour’s family policy, I was prepared to give the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government a chance. When Lib-Con ministers have talked about the problem of New Labour’s ‘nanny state’ and the need for individuals, families and communities to have more freedom in, and take more responsibility for, their own lives, this […]

Guide to Subversive Parenting

‘Guide to Subversive Parenting’ was a column I wrote for spiked between 2007 and 2011, around the publication of Standing Up to Supernanny. The new parenting catfight: Tiger Moms vs Fun Slobs. 26 May 2011 The nature/nurture debate is as unhelpful as ever in solving the problem of raising children. Bringing up baby is not an exact science. 28 […]

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