Mareice Kaiser has published a book that has already received much attention with “The Unwellness of the Modern Mother”. In a mixture of personal experience reports and historical sideways glances, the author analyzes the worries of motherhood in the young 21st century. Mothers are the stepping stone, but Kaiser's gaze goes further: The text is a contribution to the debate that is directed against structural disadvantages such as "loss of wages due to maternity" and aims to raise awareness of the burden that caring for children, the elderly and disabled people brings with it.

Much sounds familiar, such as the criticism that women in partnerships are often responsible for the little things of everyday life and that mothers are often categorized online as a hypercompetent working mum, asexual Maria or yummy mummy.

Of course, Orna Donath's 2015 study “Regretting Motherhood”, for which women were interviewed who regretted having children, should not be missing.

Poor references or no references at all

Kaiser's suggestions for more family-friendliness are so general and capable of consensus that hardly anyone can contradict: more time for family, friends, culture, work that is fun but does not take up too much space - and an unconditional basic income. Nevertheless, there are contradictions. Why does the ideal week of a millennial read like that of a part-time wife with the state in the role of provider? How does the vaguely anti-capitalist stance get along with the described intensive use of a flagship product of capitalism, namely the dating app and its wipe-and-away technique of permanent optimization?

The reason why the book is not convincing, however, is not just because of the content.

If one follows the endnotes, it turns out that in some places foreign texts without quotation marks are reproduced verbatim or almost verbatim, and this with inadequate, sometimes even no, references.

Some examples: Kaiser quotes from Johanna Haarer's book “The German Mother and Her First Child” from 1934, which was published until 1987 under the title “The Mother and Her First Child”.

Lots of inaccuracies

Your source is not the book itself, but the 39/2019 issue of Zeit-Magazin, in which an interview with Haarer's daughter Gertrud Haarer was published. Kaiser not only reproduces those passages from Haarer's book that Zeit-Magazin quotes, but also the transitions by the Zeit authors. Kaiser says: “In it, Haarer propagates a strict and relentless upbringing of children, right from the start: mother and child should be separated immediately after delivery, the child should be 'only given to the mother to breastfeed' during the puerperium. “In Zeit-Magazin you can read:“ And she advocates a strict upbringing of the child from the start. Mother and child should be separated immediately after delivery, the child is 'only given to the mother to breastfeed' during the puerperium. "

A little later Kaiser provides a brief description of the situation of mothers in the GDR, which is almost identical in words to two texts that are not referred to. The first part is similar to the text “East German mothers are more often employed” by Hedda Nier, published as an explanation of statistics from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy by Statista on October 2, 2019. The following part is almost identical to the report “Family policy in East - and West Germany and their long-term effects ”by Anke Domscheit-Berg from November 9, 2016, which is available on the Heinrich Böll Foundation's website.