Maternal Feminism

Katherine - posted on 07/11/2011 ( 30 moms have responded )

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I'm not going to put the entire article out there, just the gist of it.


Feminist mothering, according to Dr. O’Reilly, needs to focus on the things that patriarchal motherhood denies women. Specifically, feminist mothers needs to focus on the the five A’s:

Agency: Having control over their own lives.
Authority: The ability to be the author of your own life and to determine your own path.
Authenticity: The right to be truthful, to talk about the difficult parts of mothering and to mother according to our own beliefs rather than according to mainstream society’s expectations.
Autonomy: Being able to hold into ourselves, rather than sacrificing ourselves and giving up our own lives to be a good mother.
Advocacy: Being advocates for each other and for ourselves.


Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/what-is-mate...


When you look at feminism, have you considered the specific needs and challenges of mothers within your view of the goals of the feminist movement?



Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/what-is-mate...

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Johnny - posted on 07/11/2011

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I often struggle with much of current feminism. I just feel disconnected from it. I do not think I would ever label myself as a maternal feminist. However, I do tend to take the approaches listed in my own life. I think there are two main reasons that I have rejected third wave feminism



1. the Andrea Dworkin school of thought on female sexuality with heterosexuality: all hetero sex =rape



2. Motherhood\SAHM is incompatible with feminist thinking.



I know many many feminists do not share those ideas but much of the feminism I was exposed to in academia seemed to speak against my sexual and maternal instincts. So it is nice to see that some feminists are trying to change that paradigm. For me it is all about the importance of every woman having the right to determine what motherhood means for her and how she defines herself in that role. It can be anything from June Cleaver to the Real Housewives to Michelle Duggar (all equally bad examples). But true feminism for me is about the right to make your own decisions and design your own paradigm.

Tanya - posted on 07/17/2011

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I'm absolutely a feminist. I also LOVE being a mom! I've heard it said that breastfeeding is anti-feminist, being a SAHM is anti-feminist, giving birth naturally is anti-feminist, etc. I totally disagree. I mother the way I do (attachment parenting, natural parenting, etc.) because that's what I WANT to do. And if I could be a SAHM, I would be. To me, feminism, means that everyone has the right to do what they want to do. I can't be a SAHM, so although I love my job, I feel kind of restricted in my life, because I'm not fulfilling my ultimate dream of being a SAHM and homeschooling my kids. But, at least I can
still breastfeed, babywear, cosleep and bedshare, discipline lovingly, etc!

Tanya - posted on 07/19/2011

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Hm...Katherine, I think maybe you misunderstood what I was saying about martyrship. I wasn't suggesting that the other poster was trying to be a martyr, I was saying that I have seen plenty of mothers saying that OTHER moms want to be martyrs because they do so many things that can be construed as being hardships, sacrifices, etc.


For example, take the attitudes towards natural childbirth. I've often seen women say that they wouldn't do it because they're not trying to win any medals, and they don't need to suffer to bring their child into the world. Sounds a lot like martyrship, right? But, for women who WANT a natural childbirth, it's NOT a sacrifice, it's an empowering event that they really value and work for. So, in essence, the women who try to devalue it for others, are sort of "anti-feminist". Being a feminist doesn't mean that you HAVE to do things a certain way. It means that you value the freedom to do things the way you want to.

Tanya - posted on 07/19/2011

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Katherine, a lot of people seem to think that breastfeeding, staying home with your kids, etc. is oppressive to women, and that women who sacrifice so much of themselves do so for matyrship. I have heard this a lot from mainstream moms, towards moms who practice these things. My assertion is that you don't have to be the kind of mom who works outside of the home, and does three different activities per week for herself in order to be a feminist. I know many feminist moms who stay at home and wouldn't be truly happy doing anything else. They haven't "lost" any part of themselves, because mothering is their "dream job".

Merry - posted on 07/17/2011

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I always thought in order to be the best mom possible, at least in the baby stage, you have to practically make your whole existence change to fit the needs of your baby.
Sure as they get older you can ge your 'self' back more but babies really need almost all of you.

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Stifler's - posted on 07/19/2011

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the more i read the article the more i like the idea of maternal feminism.

Charlie - posted on 07/19/2011

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"we need to give up selfless mothering and instead look towards a society where everyone mothers, not just women. Men should mother and the community at large should mother too"

I totally agree with that too what ever happened to "it takes a village" , it is about having a choice and a voice in this life .

Katherine - posted on 07/19/2011

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Yes, I must have misunderstood that. That was what I was talking about.
Where did you see that Emma?

Stifler's - posted on 07/19/2011

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"we need to give up selfless mothering and instead look towards a society where everyone mothers, not just women. Men should mother and the community at large should mother too".. I'm not sure exactly what this means but I like the sound of it.

Tanya - posted on 07/19/2011

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Personally attacking who?? I assure, I wasn't attacking anybody...I don't even think my posts were directed at anybody in particular, come to think of it. I'd be happy to clarify anything that came off as a personal attack, though.


Personally, I don't think being a feminist means you have to be against any particular parenting style. That's my whole point. I AM a feminist, without a doubt. I also wish I could be a SAHM. Like I said, I know many feminist moms who are SAHMs. To someone looking in, it might SEEM like they have given up a lot of themselves, but for them, they are living the dream. And women being able to live out their dreams, in the way that they want to, IS the goal of feminism, IMO.

Katherine - posted on 07/19/2011

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I can agree with that somewhat Tanya, it just seemed like you were personally attacking her a bit.
That's why I could never BE an extreme feminist. I believe in BFing, and attachment parenting etc......
I believe in catering and nurturing my kids and giving them all I have.
I do also believe in time to myself. So what DOES that make me?

Katherine - posted on 07/18/2011

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Maternal feminism is the term that has been used by scholars to describe the ideology that drove many of the leaders of the suffrage and temperance movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Infused with the language of domesticity, it called upon women to define a public role for themselves as women, sisters and mothers so as to improve society, and particularly to alleviate the suffering of women and children.

http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/features/timel...

Stifler's - posted on 07/18/2011

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Feminism isn't about attachment parenting vs. not. It's about standing up for our rights. Our opinions are just as valid as mens and we had interests before we had children and shouldn't be judged for pursuing them aswell as being a parent.

Katherine - posted on 07/18/2011

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......and think that doing them means you want to be a martyr or something.


Wow. How does that make her want to be a martyr or something?

Tanya - posted on 07/18/2011

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Funny, Rebecca, I've never heard those things....most people I've talked to IRL and online don't seem to value those things, and think that doing them means you want to be a martyr or something.

To me, the only sacrifice I'm making is working instead of staying home with my kids. Breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, using gentle discipline, using cloth diapers, etc. aren't "sacrifices" to me.
I think that feminism believes that women should do whatever is right for them. That could mean mainstream parenting, it could mean AP/natural parenting, it could mean something completely different! But having the choice and freedom to parent the way you want to is what feminists fight for.

Mrs. - posted on 07/17/2011

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"I've heard it said that breastfeeding is anti-feminist, being a SAHM is anti-feminist, giving birth naturally is anti-feminist, etc. I totally disagree. I mother the way I do (attachment parenting, natural parenting, etc.) because that's what I WANT to do"

Really? I've always heard the opposite, that you are not truly empowered as a woman unless you do that or something.

I don't think attachment parenting has much to do with feminism either way, it's just one way to parent. One way I could never do...but I don't think it means your any less or more enlightened or something.

Julie - posted on 07/17/2011

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well i am not a feminist but i do have control over my own life (in other words i dont listen to what anyone tells me never have never will) which brings us to point 2 i do have control of my own destiny. i do mother according to my beleifs. i beleive a child needs a firm but understanding hand. i havent sacrificed myself for my kids or anyone. i am still an independent person and brought my kids up to be independent and to respect themselves and others and i am so proud of them. we should be advocates for each other and ourselves. we should help where we can respect each others opinion without putting others down if you dont agree but to be able to handle life and relationships wtih confidence and to be honest truthfull and respectful to others.

Amanda - posted on 07/17/2011

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Woman burned their bras so I can choose to wear my bras, be a stay at home mother, a wife, and anything else I want to be. :0)

Katherine - posted on 07/17/2011

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Being a mom is the most feminine thing you can ever do!

I completely agree with that. And it's rewarding. I just don't understand the whole concept they are trying to invoke here.

Merry - posted on 07/17/2011

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I mean, if a lady is out going to concerts and parties and going on trips and vacations before having a baby it's not good for her to think this lifestyle can continue exactly like that with a baby!
Sure you can still find ways to do things you enjoy, but your baby's needs come before your wants.

Being a mom is the most feminine thing you can ever do!
I think motherhood is our best privilege ;)

Katherine - posted on 07/17/2011

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I agree Laura, babies do need all of you and they are very demanding. I don't think saying you need to detach yourself from your kids to BE you is a good way to go.
I could never be this way, it's far too extreme. My kids are my world and they DO define me.

Sarah - posted on 07/16/2011

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I can go along with most of these except maybe the Autonomy one. I think you can't be a good mother without sacrificing at least a part of yourself for your child's welfare. I equally think dads can't be good fathers without sacrificing part of themselves too.

I learnt a lot from Naomi Wolf's book, 'Misconceptions', which talks alot about how society's view of pregnant women and mothers infantilises them and tries to render them powerless.

Katherine - posted on 07/11/2011

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Do you agree with this belief system? I don't know, it's pretty out there. I can embrace some of it, but not all of it.

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