Review- Johnson and Quinlan, “You’re Doing It Wrong!”

Bethany Johnson and Margaret Quinlan, “You’re Doing It Wrong!: Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise” (2019) – Motherhood! Not easy, especially as everyone seems to have an opinion about how it should go, from how to get pregnant onwards. “You’re Doing It Wrong!” defies standard categorization- it’s part history, part communications study, and part relating the personal experiences of the two writers, both of whom are mothers of young children. It ranges from the mid-19th century until our own period of online expertise and social media to discuss how people think about various stages of early motherhood. Surprise surprise- as the title implies, from then until now, on every conceivable issue, experts believe that mothers are doing it wrong, and issue welters of contradictory advice. I had no idea how controversial cold cuts for expectant mothers were before this book! Moreover, Johnson and Quinlan illustrate the ways different categories of expert — from medical professionals to people with opinions — shade into each other, tread on each other’s territory, dispense similar (and similarly muddled) advice, etc. This was just as true in the days of patent medicine as it is today in our time of social media, which amplifies every dynamic the writers discuss. All in all, an interesting and methodologically novel read in a subject I don’t know well. ****’

Review- Johnson and Quinlan, “You’re Doing It Wrong!”

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