Pamela Druckerman Wrote About Her Ménage à Trois Before She Wrote a Parenting Book. Should We Care?

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Feb. 8 2012 10:26 PM

Pamela Druckerman Wrote About Her Ménage à Trois Before She Wrote a Parenting Book. Should We Care?

Pamela Druckerman is getting plenty of attention for her book, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.  Telling anxious American parents not only that their parenting techniques are all wrong but that the French—the haughty French—should be our role models is a sure way to get yourself booked on the Today Show.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

Bringing Up Bébé is based on Druckerman’s own experience raising Anglo-American children in Paris (she is American; her husband is British), and her willingness to reveal details from her family life helps ground the book.  But Druckerman might be regretting having been so open about her personal life a few years ago.

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I am reading Bringing Up Bébé for a Slate book club discussion (look for it next week!), and today in the course of looking up something about Druckerman, I came across an article in which  she writes about how her husband asked her to engage in a threesome with him and another woman for his 40th birthday. “Weird,” I thought. Not what you expect to see from someone trying to sell a a parenting book. The version of the article I’d clicked on was an undated PDF, and it offered a link to the article on the Marie Claire website, which I clicked on to find out when, exactly, the article had been published.

But clicking on the link (http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/relationship-issues/articles/threesome-sex-menage-a-trois-planning) redirects readers to the home page of the magazine’s current lifestyle features section.  Was the original, which appeared in Marie Claire in 2010, legit? There’s no reason not to think so. Jezebel blogged about it at the time (and their link redirects to the lifestyles home page as well), as did Vanessa Raphaely, who is  editor of South African Cosmo, which is published by the same company as Marie Claire. A photograph of accompanying the article sure looks a lot like the photographs of Druckerman that appeared in reviews of her book Lust in Translation,.

Did Marie Claire pull down the article at Druckerman’s request? I am trying to contact them to find out, and I will report back. (UPDATE, Feb. 9: I did get a call from Marie Claire's editor in chief, Joanna Coles, and I wrote a new post about our conversation.)  There could be a number of legitimate reasons the link doesn’t work—it’s the Internet, it happens. But, it’s easy to access other articles from 2009 and 2010 in Marie Claire’s archives. It’s understandable why Druckerman might not want that article floating around while she’s trying to sell a book about parenting. I’m personally no prude, so finding out that she took part in a threesome isn’t going to hurt her credibility in my eyes, however, that’s not likely true of her entire target demographic. But it’s almost impossible to make anything truly disappear from the Internet.

And there’s another, less obvious reason that I think the threesome article isn’t beneficial to Druckerman. In Bringing Up Bébé, she posits that American parents are overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenthood from the moment they get that positive pregnancy test, that American-style parenting requires you to plow through stacks of books and pick a parenting style and write a birthing plan and then carry on similarly throughout your parenting years.  If you read Druckerman’s article about her threesome, though, you see that it’s largely about the planning of the threesome. She and her husband rule out their friends, reject the idea of a sex club, ponder the ideal candidate. She scours the Internet, goes on lunch dates with women, primps, stresses about her clothes, and asks her husband how to talk to women.

It leaves one wondering: Regarding the overzealous reading and plotting and planning and the stress of overparenting that inspires Druckerman to write the book, is it indicative of an American style of parenting, or just the Druckmerman style of parenting?

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