Andrea O’Reilly - Ain’t I a Feminist

Ain’t I a Feminist?: Matricentric Feminism, Feminist Mamas, and Why Mothers Need a Feminist Movement/Theory of Their Own

This text is taken from Andrea O’Reilly’s keynote speech and induction into the Motherhood Hall of Fame at the Museum of Motherhood in NYC (2014)

andrea_oreillyOver the last forty years, as feminist theory and women’s studies have grown and developed as a scholarly field, they have incorporated various and diverse theoretical models to represent the specific perspectives/concerns of particular groups of women; global feminism, queer feminism, third wave feminism and womanism. In contrast, I will argue that women’s studies has not likewise recognized or embraced a feminism developed from the specific needs/concerns of mothers, what I have termed matricentric feminism. The paper will consider possible reasons for the exclusion of matricentric feminism in feminist theory and why this school of feminism must be accorded the same legitimacy and autonomy as other feminist theoretical models in the discipline of women’s studies.

The title of this paper paraphrases two central and significant quotes from Feminist Theory. One from Sojourner Truth’s speech at an abolitionist meeting:

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud- puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

And the 2nd from Virginia Woolf, drawn from her book A Room of One’s Own (1929): “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

For me, these quotes serve to appropriately situate and frame what I will be arguing in this talk, and what has been a passionate concern of mine over the past 3 decades as I have sought to do feminism as a mother and do motherhood as a feminist: namely that we need a feminism –in both theory and practice– specifically for mothers. In this paper, when I use the term ‘mothers’ I refer to individuals who engage in motherwork, or as Ruddick theorized: “maternal practice”. Such a term is not limited to biological mothers, but to anyone who takes upon the work of mothering as a central part of her or his life. This paper will argue that as feminist theory and women’s studies have grown and developed as a scholarly field, it has incorporated various and diverse theoretical models to represent the specific perspectives and concerns of particular groups of women; global feminism, queer feminism, third wave feminism, and womanism. In contrast, as I will go on to argue, feminist theory and women’s studies more generally have not likewise recognized or embraced a feminism developed from the specific needs or concerns of mothers, what I have termed ‘matricentric feminism’. The paper will consider possible reasons for the exclusion of matricentric feminism in feminist theory and demand this school of feminism must be accorded the same legitimacy and autonomy as other feminist theoretical models in the discipline of women’s studies.

In the introduction to my edited volume The 21st Century Motherhood Movement: Mothers Speak out on why we need to change the world and how to do it, published in 2011, I coined the term matricentric feminism to describe a mother- centred feminism. I use the term matricentric feminism to distinguish it from maternal feminism and to mark it as a distinct motherhood politic and theory specific to its 21st century context. While matricentric feminism does borrow from maternalism in many of its strategies, it does so strategically and in ways specific to its 21st century context. Moreover, matricentric feminism also comprises the perspectives and philosophies of equal rights feminism and an ethics of care framework. Similar to Elaine Showalter, who coined the term gynocentric to signify a woman-centred perspective, I use the term matricentric to denote a mother-centred standpoint and emphasis to designate it as particular, long overdue and urgently needed mode of feminism.

It has been said that motherhood is the unfinished business of feminism. For example, a cursory review of recent scholarship on mothers and paid employment reveals that while women have made significant gains over the last three decades, mothers have not. Mothers in the paid labour force find themselves “mommy tracked,” making sixty cents for every dollar earned by full-time fathers (Williams, 2000, p. 2). Indeed, today the pay gap between mothers and non-mothers under thirty-five years is now larger than the wage gap between young men and women (Crittenden, 2001, 94). And while the “glass ceiling” and the “sticky floor” are still to be found in the workplace, most scholars would argue that it is the maternal wall that impedes and hinders most women’s progress in the workplace today. “Many childless women under the age of thirty five,” Ann Crittenden writes, “believe that all the feminist battles have been won” (88), but, as Crittenden continues, “once a woman has a baby, the egalitarian office party is over” (88).

A discussion of the reasons for such ‘stalled feminism for mothers’ is beyond the scope of this paper; however, what needs to be emphasized here is what mothers need is a feminism that positions their needs and concerns as the starting point in theory and activism on and for women’s empowerment.

This is not to suggest that a matricentric feminism should replace traditional feminist thought; rather, it is to remind and emphasize that the category of mother is distinct from the category of woman, and that many of the problems mothers face—socially, economically, politically, culturally, psychologically and so forth—are specific to women’s role and identity as mothers. Indeed, mothers are oppressed under patriarchy as women and as mothers. Consequently, mothers need a mother- centred or matricentric mode of feminism organized from and for their particular identity and work as mothers. I would argue further that a mother-centred feminism is urgently needed and long overdue because mothers, arguably more so than women in general, remain disempowered despite forty years of feminism.

However, as mother scholars and activists have been engaged in matricentric feminism for two plus decades (the former in creation of a canon of Maternal Theory and the latter through the formation of a Motherhood Movement), the work of such matricentric feminism (in both theory and practice) has not been, I argue, recognized by or incorporated into mainstream feminist thought. This paper will attempt to answer why this specific “identity based” theory and practice of feminism, i.e. matricentric feminism, still remains marginal to Feminist Theory and Women’s Studies more generally.

The demand for a theory or practice based on a specific identity of women is hardly an innovative or radical claim. Over the last 40 plus years many groups of women have argued that mainstream feminism –largely understood to be Liberal Feminism—has not adequately represented their perspectives or needs. I think particularly of women of colour and their call for feminism that understood the intersectionality of their oppression as racialized women: a feminism now known as Womanism, or women from the global south and the development of a theory of global feminism, or queer/lesbian/bi/trans women and their call for queer feminist theory and activism. Likewise, the development of 3rd wave feminism in the 90s grew out of young women’s sense of alienation from the aims of 2nd wave feminism.

When such women demanded a feminist theory of their own, the larger feminist movement acknowledged, albeit often reluctantly, that such women had been excluded from the larger canon of feminist thought and feminist theory was revised accordingly to include these different positions and perspectives within feminism. Most introductions to feminist theory textbooks now include chapters on socialist feminism, global feminism, queer feminism, 3rd wave feminism, and womanism.

However, over the last decade, as mothers began to call for feminism for mothers, such, I would argue, was not met with the same respect or recognition. More often than not the claim was dismissed, trivialized, disparaged, and ridiculed: why would mothers need such (implying I assume that mothers do not have needs or concerns separate from their larger identity of women). It troubles me deeply that feminists are able to understand the intersectionality of gendered oppression when it comes to race, class, sexuality, and geographical location but not so for maternity. But I would argue, and I suspect most mothers would agree, that maternity needs to be likewise included in, and understood in terms of, theories of intersectionality. Mothers do not live simply as women, but as mother women — just as black females do not live simply as women but as racialized women– and mothers’ oppression and resistance under patriarchy is shaped by their maternal identity just as a black woman is by her racialized identity. For me this seems self- evident; why then is maternity not understood to be a subject position and hence not theorized as we do with other subject positions, in terms of the intersectionality of gendered oppression and resistance? Is it because maternity is seen to be less significant in determining our lives as women, that it doesn’t count somehow, simply doesn’t matter; that somehow as mothers we can see ourselves, and live our lives outside of our maternal selves? Non-racialized women understand that race and gender cannot be separated out; that black women’s sense of who they are is simultaneously racialized and gendered. Why then can non-mothers not recognize the same for mothers?

I am not sure that I have the answers, but I think that the non-recognition of maternity as a subject position may be attributed to the larger marginalization, if not invisibility, of motherhood in Women’s Studies. Further, such marginalization is the result of the low numbers of mother-professors in academe, particularly in positions of power and influence. Thus the women who are designing women’s studies courses, setting the curriculum, deciding what books are to be read by students and more generally writing the feminist theory that informs feminist scholarship are not mothers. As non-mothers, these scholars fail to understand or appreciate how fully maternity is constitutive of mothers’ gendered selves. Such is similar to the early years of the 2nd wave when white women wrote feminist theory as if all women lived their gender the same way: black women rightly corrected white women on this. The difference between now and then is that feminists recognized the legitimacy of black women’s concerns and responded accordingly (though there is still work to be done on making feminism more inclusive of racial difference) but the same recognition, respect and response has not been accorded to mothers as they have made this same claim. Significantly, during the 2nd wave when white women were rightly challenged for their white bias and privilege, they recognized the need for change though they were not themselves racialized women. So I am left still asking questions: Why are non-mother feminists not capable of doing the same for mothers today? Why are non-mothers not able to appreciate and respond to the demands of inclusion made by mothers as white women did for racialized women in the early years of the 2nd wave? Why is motherhood not acknowledged as a subject position in constituting gendered identities? Why do we not see maternity as an interlocking structure of oppression as we do with race and class and include it in our gendered analysis of oppression and resistance? Why do we not recognize mothers’ specific perspective as we do for other women whether they are queer, working-class, racialized, et cetera? Why doesn’t motherhood count or matter?

In my now close to 3 decades of mothering, researching, writing, and teaching on motherhood, I have sought to make sense of this particular and peculiar exclusion of motherhood in theorizing women’s gendered oppression and resistance. The reasons for such as I discuss above, include 1) non-mother feminists fail to understand how fully motherhood matters because they themselves are not mothers and relatedly 2) the topic of motherhood is peripheral in the courses and curriculum of most Women’ studies departments (a marginalization that has only worsened as Women’s Studies become Gender Studies: but that is a subject for another day). But, again as I discuss above, such can only partially account for the absence of maternity in theorizing gendered oppression and resistance: racialized and queer subject positions are theorized by non-queer and racialized feminist theorists: so such should be possible by non-mothers for mothers. So what is going here?

It is my view that non-mothers fail “to get it” because of a larger and pervasive feminist discomfort with all things maternal. Much of 2nd wave feminism–in particular that of Liberal and Radical Libertarian feminism– see motherhood as a significant, if not the determining, cause of women’s oppression under patriarchy. To explore this argument fully is beyond the scope of this talk, but I will draw upon quotes from two well-known feminists to illustrate the argument I am making here. Betty Friedan’s now infamous quote from the classic Feminine Mystique, “the problem that has no name” quickly became a tag or trope for the dissatisfaction supposedly felt by stay-at-home mothers. Friedan wrote that “in lieu of more meaningful goals, these women spent too much time cleaning their already tidy homes, improving their already attractive appearances, and indulging their already spoiled children”. Focusing on this unappealing picture of family life in affluent U.S. suburbs, Friedan concluded that “contemporary women needed to find meaningful work in the full-time, public workforce.”

And this quote from Radical-Libertarian Feminist theorist Shulamith Firestone:

“No matter how much educational, legal, and political equality women achieve and no matter how many women enter public industry, nothing fundamental will change for women as long as natural reproduction remains the rule and artificial or assisted reproduction the exception. Natural reproduction is neither in women’s best interests nor in those of the children so reproduced. The joy of giving birth- invoked so frequently in this society- is a patriarchal myth. In fact, pregnancy is barbaric, and natural childbirth is at best necessary and tolerable and at worst it is like shitting a pumpkin.” (92)

In other words, motherhood is seen as a patriarchal institution that causes women’s oppression, and thus the feminist ‘solution’ to such is avoiding motherhood both in theory and practice. Relatedly, because feminists are uncomfortable with anything that suggests gender essentialism –i.e. men are naturally this way; women naturally this way– motherhood becomes highly problematic, as motherhood, more than anything else, is what marks our essential gender difference; only biological females can biologically become mothers. And because gender difference is seen as structuring and maintaining male dominance, many feminists seek to downplay and disavow anything that marked this difference; the main one being of course motherhood. Thus for many feminists, to talk of motherhood, to acknowledge women’s specific gendered subjectivity as mothers, to develop a mother-centred feminism, is to play into patriarchy; acknowledge and affirm that is which is seen as marking and maintaining gender difference and hence the oppression of women.

However, as Motherhood scholars and mothers alike have rightly argued, such reasoning is deeply flawed in its failure to take into account the important difference between the institution of motherhood and women’s experiences of mothering. In her ovarian work Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Adrienne Rich distinguishes between two meanings of motherhood, one superimposed on the other: “the potential relationship of any woman to her powers of reproduction and to children”; and “the institution -which aims at ensuring that that potential—and all women—shall remain under male control” (13, emphasis in original). The term motherhood refers to the patriarchal institution of motherhood which is male-defined and controlled, and is deeply oppressive to women, while the word mothering refers to women’s experiences of mothering which are female-defined and centred, and potentially empowering to women. The reality of patriarchal motherhood thus must be distinguished from the possibility or potentiality of feminist mothering. To critique the institution of motherhood therefore “is not an attack on the family or on mothering except as defined and restricted under patriarchy” (Rich, 14). In other words, while motherhood, as an institution, is a male-defined site of oppression, women’s own experiences of mothering can nonetheless be a source of power. It has long been recognized among scholars of motherhood that Rich’s distinction between mothering and motherhood was what enabled feminists to recognize that motherhood is not naturally, necessarily, or inevitably oppressive. Rather, mothering, freed from motherhood, could be experienced as a site of empowerment, a location of social change if, to use Rich’s words, women became “outlaws from the institution of motherhood.” However, in much of feminist thought this crucial difference between the institution and the experience is not recognized or understood: hence mothering is conflated with motherhood and, maternity is regarded solely and exclusively as a patriarchal entity. The baby, in other words, has been thrown out with the bathwater.

Related to and informing this feminist discomfort, if not disavowal, of motherhood is the larger issue of what is to be done about the thorny issue of gender difference. With the exception of Radical-Cultural feminism and some 3rd wave feminist writing, gender difference, as I noted above, is understood to be the cause of women’s oppression in mainstream feminist theory. Liberal feminists, believing such, advocated what has been called sameness feminism –making women more like men– while post-modem feminists seek to destabilize and deconstruct gender difference. I agree that gender is constructed –sex does not equal gender or as DeBeauvoir said “one is not born a woman but made one–, and thus we cannot define ourselves or limit our lives to that which is socially constructed by gender. However, I likewise believe that feminists should not disavow motherhood to facilitate this destabilizing of gender. I believe we can simultaneously argue that gender is constructed and that motherhood matters; that maternity is integral to mother women’s sense of self and her experience of the world. Maternal scholars do not reduce women’s sense of self to motherhood, say that this is what makes her a woman, or that motherhood is more important than other variables that constitute self; only that motherhood matters and that it is central and integral to understanding mother women’s oppression in patriarchy and their resistance to it.

Despite the challenges described above, I believe we can and must develop a specific feminism for mothers. Even if my arguments above have failed to convince, the reality is that the majority of women worldwide –over 80 percent– become mothers and that such mothering is central to how they see and live in the world. Thus, a specific feminist theory for mothers is urgently needed and long overdue. So how do we create matricentric feminism? Integrate it into mainstream feminism? We need more women doing motherhood scholarship; need more mother professors in the academe; demand that motherhood research be made more integral to Women’s Studies in the form of articles published in Women’s Studies journals, motherhood books reviewed in such, and motherhood issues and topics be included in Women’s studies courses and textbooks. Ironically, as I make this claim for mother-centred feminism in theory and practice, it can be seen as a case of shutting the barn door after, in my case, the donkeys are out. What I mean by this is that despite motherhood being marginalized, if not ignored, in feminist theory, we do already have a feminist theory and scholarship of our own. It does exist! As with other feminist schools of thought we have our intellectual and theoretical tradition established, know the central terms, concepts, issues, debates and so forth. We have it, so let us name it and then demand that motherhood feminism, what I have termed matricentric feminism, be acknowledged as a legitimate, viable, independent school of feminist thought. That matricentric feminism have a chapter of its own as do other schools of feminism theory — queer, global, womanist, 3rd wave– in our Feminist Theory readers, that introduction to women’s studies courses include a unit on motherhood, as they do for transgender issues, violence, health and so forth, that Women’s Studies journal include articles and book reviews on motherhood as they do for other Women’s Studies topics. In other words I ask of feminism that matricentric feminism be recognized as a distinct feminist standpoint and that it be included in the theory, scholarship and teaching of feminist theory and Women’s Studies more generally. And that as mother centred feminists we are recognized as feminists, and that, as such, we are entitled to a feminist scholarship and theory of our own: indeed, a room of our own in the home of Feminism.

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The Rainbow Way: cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood

I had the pleasure of talking with this incredible woman, Lucy H Pearce.

Writer of The Rainbow Way, artist, mother, a creative force!

Here some excerpts from her book.

hi res rainbow way cover

Motherhood multiplies all previous challenges to creativity tenfold, whether you be a stay-at-home, work-at-home or work-out-of-the-home mama. Your life, especially in the “short years” of young children, is almost totally not your own. Trying to discover who you are now and fulfil your creative passions is high on the agenda for most mothers but where is the time and the energy? I longed and searched for something like this over my early mothering years. I needed a mentor, a guide to show me how to be my creative self and a mother without letting either suffer. But there was nothing out there: society it seems either does not see the problem, acknowledge it as important, or think it requires solutions. But I know that there are a lot of us out therewomen like you and me Trying to be stay-at-home mothers, and feeling like were dying inside. Trying to be working women, and feeling like were dying inside. Women who are trying to find their way back into their unique creative groove, after the disorientation of early motherhood. After our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. After we have forgotten who we are and found another self.

1-22_05_2013 PtTimmyItaly124Many women have asked me why I focus on the creative mother, rather than creative women, or even simply creativity? Apart from the fact that I feel that as a group we are extremely under-supported in our development, it is largely because of a little-spoken-about phenomenon: creative renaissance. I have discovered, through talking to scores of creative women, that for many women something miraculous happens when they become pregnant or give birth. The vital forces which have been ignited in their bodies through pregnancy also rekindle their creative passion. Their hearts and wombs are fully engaged with nurturing life, and it seems that a woman’s body does not differentiate between the biological and artistic acts of creation, they are fuelled by the same fire and cultivated under the same conditions. I believe that the word renaissance perfectly describes the experience of many mothers. From “re-” meaning again, and “naissance” meaning birth, it speaks of the fact that through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, women find themselves “born again”. For many this is an instantaneous life-altering shift, and felt as a spiritual experience, for others it is a growing sense of realization that “something profound has changed in my life: I am no longer who I once thought I was.”

The other understanding of “renaissance” is to do with a revival of artistic achievement and vigor, and so many of the women I spoke to in the writing of this book experienced a personal artistic renaissance when they became mothers. For years we may have ignored our creative sides. Busy with our career, love-life, travel and friendships it was left to one side. Now, suddenly it is an all-consuming urge. Some inner compulsion has awakened and will not be quieted down: we must give birth to art, writing, knitting, sewing, songs, plays…and do it now, not in twenty years when the children are grown. It is a secret that we were not told by our mothers or sisters, and certainly not by our careers counsellors or teachers: we can gain access to unknown depths when our mother-self is born and if we have a creative temperament, the birth of a child might also include a massive artistic resurgence. Those who do not understand this renaissance that creative mothers experience try to reassure us and quiet down our fire: you have all the time in the world to paint or write, babies are only young once. Don’t be selfish, you need to focus on your children. They do not understand that this way madness and sadness lie. Many think that this is the only way: have babies and abandon your life and dreams until the children have left home. You are the frame, now, an older woman counselled me, your child is the picture. It is all about him now. And this has been true for generations of creative women once her belly has been filled with the life of another, her own is expected to end. Her hand has been stopped from writing, her heart from painting, her voice from speaking. She has been told that a womans place is in the home, is to be caring for children, her husband or ailing parents. This traditional dialogue has been joined by new expectations: that she has to get a job any job, a respectable job. Never that she should follow her instincts and her heart. To honor her children’s needs for a mother’s care, and her need for a meaningful, creative life and work.

The truth of the matter is that the creative mother who is unable to create, will not be a better mother, instead she is unable to mother properly either. For the creative mother, creativity is her life force that makes her bloom. Take that from her and you take her soul.

Flights into sanity

Donald Winnicott, renowned British psychoanalyst and pediatrician stated that during pregnancy a mother develops “a state of heightened sensitivity” which continues for some weeks after the baby’s birth. However, when this passes, the mother has what he calls a “flight into sanity” and she begins to be aware of the world which exists outside of her state of “primary maternal preoccupation” with her baby. For many of the women I spoke to this period of heightened sensitivity was also accompanied by a rebirth of themselves as women and creatives, and the flight of sanity was expressed in a profound rediscovery of their creative energies and ideas. For me it was writing which called to me, rather than drama which I had trained in and taught for many years before. Laura transitioned from painting to toy-making, specializing in dolls. Hannah found that she was pulled from fiction writing to nonfiction. For many it meant the movement from more abstract forms of expression and “high art” to more practical crafts, or intuitive forms of creativity. The creative renaissance in new mothers is the result of an incredibly complex, once-in-a-lifetime shift of the woman’s hormonal, emotional, physical and psychological states, along with a total shift in her social role, responsibilities and daily routine. She is blasted from her previous existence into an entirely new self, and some of the myriad changes include:

During pregnancy and early motherhood, a womans mind is in a near-constant state of relaxed activity (growing a baby, and later producing milk), whilst her body is engaged in repetitive, habitual activity: breastfeeding, nappy changing, rocking, soothing. This is the optimal state for creative flow, as we will see in Part II.

But this is not the only flow added blood flow to the womb and vaginal area have been shown in repeated research to activate the corresponding parts of the brain connected to creativity.

A womans pregnancy and post-partum period is characterized by heightened sensitivity; powerful emotions; an awakening of forgotten memories and dreams and a greater awareness of and reliance on her intuitive faculties.

She has an altered wake-sleep cycle and dreaming cycle: her brain cycles more frequently through brainwave patterns which are associated with creativity.

She experiences a new sense of self and the awakening of a new archetype within her as she perceives herself as mother for the first time.

As a new mother she has increased opportunities for play, being outdoors and in her familiar home environment, and a massive exposure to different people, music, images, stories and educational experiences.

And perhaps most importantly of all, the changes in her hormonal state during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting encounters flood her brain and body with an array of neurochemicals like oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline and relaxin making her more open and dreamy for months, or even years.

The activated womb Mon, a photographer, writer and mother of one, touches on another key aspect of the maternal creativity puzzle: the activation of the womb, often seen as a woman’s creative center, which we will explore in more depth later in the book:

Having my girl was a catalyst, a whirlwind of self-empowerment, creatively speaking. They say the womb is woman’s center of creativity, and having a child opened up what I allowed to lie dormant within me. It flooded out, I could barely keep up. It was a second birthing. Like bringing a child into the world, there is no turning back now.

For many women this is the first time their womb has been “activated”. Perhaps a lifetime of unfulfilling sexual encounters, or a sense of disconnection from their menstrual cycle, means that their womb has been a part of their body which has been ignored or even despised. Now, called into life through the act of pregnancy, the latent energies within are activated. Hence the sudden “switching on” of creativity. For the first time in their adult lives, women’s eyes are opened to their ability to nurture life, to create, and their hormones are moving them into the perfect level of consciousness to do just this. Whereas before, getting into this creative state would require willpower and dedication, now her hormones and activated womb magically smooth the way.

1-DSCN0493The pregnant woman finds that she is no longer in control of her own body’s processes in a way she previously believed, she is now surrendered to them. Her logical brain, which has been honed by her education, and her body which has previously competed on a male stage, are now flooded with feminine creative powers. To find pleasure and comfort, to make some sort of sense of these new experiences, a woman who has previously been taught to express herself creatively, will often turn to these skills as a way to express these new feelings, powerful dreams, strange longings and disorienting physical changes that she is experiencing. For such a common experience, it is incredible that you will find little said about it. It is not a topic which is well-funded, or of great interest to most (male) research scientists. And so each woman in our culture tends to experience this transformation and renaissance by herself, with little guidance or preparation. Then, having had the experience, thinks that she is alone in it and either ignores or dismisses it as she has no frame of reference for it.

As a culture we do not acknowledge what a massive shift becoming a mother is for any woman, let alone explore this creative renaissance that so many women experience. It is my deepest desire to help to prepare and initiate women, because without guidance and support a woman can feel alone, misunderstood, or just plain “wrong” in her experiences, which her doctor, friends and partner have no understanding of.

The Creative Mama-festo

Being creative and being a mother are both sacred undertakings.

It is important to be creative together.

It is necessary to be creative alone.

Make time, make space, find your center.

Make friends with your cycles and womb.

Find your permission givers and accept invitations

Listen to your body and your intuition. Follow it.

Nurture yourself, not just everyone else.

Recognize your good enough and learn to live it.

Find what makes your heart sing, and do it.

Practice daily.

Relish your sensuality. Honor your experiences.

Remember that the place where magic happens almost always lies outside your comfort zone.

Honor the lessons of the Crazy Woman.

Always be a student to the process…never stop learning or trying new things.

Know that you are never alone find allies, accept support and express gratitude to those who support you.

Share the love mentor, support others and share your gifts.

Keep on creating your story.

* All the paintings are made by artist Lucy H. Pearce and pblished with permission.


JourMs, Call for papers

The Journal of Mother Studies was founded as a thesis project by Martha Joy Rose at CUNY, The Graduate Center (2015). The journal publishes interdisciplinary scholarship on mothers, mothering, and motherhood as broadly construed.

Call for Papers begins Sept. 1, 2015

Interpreting a Theory of M/otherness: Exploring and Defining Mother Studies in the Academy: Mother Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines m/other (“me” and “otherness”) interpretations and experiences of procreation, caregiving, and relational theory as navigated within social and cultural constructions. How shall we identify and define this new and emerging field of Mother Studies? What are its key elements, and how do different disciplines organize themselves in and around the notion of m/otherness; the connected and disconnected state? What would do theories of m/otherness look like? If you are already teaching motherhood or mothering, from what perspective or discipline do you approach the work? Why should Mother Studies be its own discipline and what theories define it? For example, is Mother Studies the logical stepchild of Gender and Sexuality Studies, and is m/otherness a state we can all recognize and expand upon? In this issue we hope to examine three new specific ideas: jourms_april_2015

  1. Mother and Father Studies; what are they, and how do we define, theorize, and teach them? How would an academic journal contribute to the canons of the field, thus solidifying them as their own unique and important disciplines?
  2. M/otherness; the notion of relationship. The mother status particularly and father status peripherally are always in relationship to self and other within a variety of circumstances. This is determined by the making/dividing, connection/disconnection status of procreation, adoption, surrogacy and caregiving, and its long-term transformational nature.
  3. Motheristing; a perspective inspired by “feminist” notions and the website “feministing.” What is the language specific to m/motherness (see * below for a more detailed explanation of m/otherness, or otherness as it relates to procreators)?

Anyone may submit a paper but articles must be of a scholarly nature, and should be 15-20 pages (maximum 4,000 words) including references. Many of our authors are published writers with popular books. Journalistic papers are encouraged. We value intellectual accessibility as much as we value research and rigor. JourMS aims to cultivate a wide readership with authors who can relay meaningful information, while addressing important issues, in order to establish JourMS as the preeminent contributor of content in the field of Mother Studies. All text should be in APA style and submitted in Word Doc. Submissions accepted by SocMS members or students enrolled in Mother Studies classes within the last 6 months please. You must be a member to submit.