Human infants are characterized as altricial, meaning they are born rather helpless and require a significant amount of care for an extended period of time. They have virtually no chance of surviving if a mature member of the species doesn’t offer care to them. Attachment theory argues that there exists an innate emotional bond, called attachment, that forms between an infant and an adult caregiver that ensures the infant is psychologically tied to the adult and hence can elicit constant and reliable care so that it can survive. That is why the attachment bond is characterized as an evolutionary adaptation. Being one of psychology’s most prominent theories and having a vast ability to describe and predict infant behavior notwithstanding, attachment theory has been extensively criticized as being a “sexist” theory, as it is argued to emphasize the gendered role of motherhood in human development. In this talk, I will argue that the root cause of this notion might be the conception of parenthood in patriarchal, hence, unfortunately, most, societies. I will first discuss the patriarchal outlook to paternity that empathizes the “seed” of the father, and then I will talk about the excessive emphasis on a technological society and the mind-body dualism that devaluates the bodily and emotional labor associated with caregiving and hence discriminate against women as primary caregivers. I will challenge this view by offering an alternative outlook that advocates for equal caregiving, regardless of sex, and values nurturance and empathy. I will conclude by clarifying attachment theory’s outlook on the matter and discuss whether it is indeed sexist or not.

Anahtar Kelimeler: parenting, caregiving, patriarchy, attachment, gender roles