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Feminism and Attachment Parenting: Attitudes, Stereotypes, and Misperceptions

Abstract

This paper investigated attitudes and stereotypes about what feminist women, primarily from the United States, believed about a number of practices associated with attachment parenting which is theorized to be both feminist and non-feminist. The goals of this study were to determine whether feminists endorsed attachment parenting and whether stereotypes of feminists’ beliefs corresponded to actual feminists’ attitudes. Women were recruited online, primarily through blogs, to complete an online survey about feminism and mothering. Four hundred and thirty one women comprised the sample for the current investigation and included heterosexual-identified feminist mothers (n = 147), feminist non-mothers (n = 75), non-feminist mothers (n = 143), and non-feminist non-mothers (n = 66). Participants were asked to rate their own attitudes towards specific practices associated with attachment parenting and to indicate their perceptions of the beliefs of the typical feminist. Results indicated that feminists were more supportive of attachment parenting practices than were non-feminists. Non-feminists, particularly mothers, held misperceptions about the typical feminist, seeing them as largely uninterested in the time-intensive and hands-on practices associated with attachment parenting. Feminist mothers also held stereotypes about feminists and saw themselves as somewhat atypical feminists who were more interested in attachment parenting than they thought was typical of feminists. Our data indicated that feminists did endorse attachment parenting and that stereotypes of feminists related to attachment parenting are untrue. Furthermore, the role of feminism in the identity of feminist mothers and whether attachment parenting is truly a feminist way to parent are discussed.

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Correspondence to Miriam Liss.

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Liss, M., Erchull, M.J. Feminism and Attachment Parenting: Attitudes, Stereotypes, and Misperceptions. Sex Roles 67, 131–142 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0173-z

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Keywords

  • Feminism
  • Mothering
  • Attachment parenting
  • Stereotypes
  • Social norms
  • Social identity theory