I am sick with a second bout of flu. It is all very boring. But Happy International Women’s Day to you today, and look here… people writing really thoughtful stuff about feminist motherhood on their blog. (Not a ‘cute boy/girl + pet’ link in sight over there).
maternalselves: thinking feminist mothering is written by two fascinating academics (both from non-English-speaking backgrounds) who are wanting to simultaneously explore feminist motherhood from theoretical and personal perspectives – pretty similar goals to my own with this blog. Here is a sample of their musings.
One of the issues that complicate this is that feminist struggles for equality sometimes leave out the need for fighting for spaces for difference. Feminism struggles have concentrated a lot on achieving equality, but sometimes this has meant accepting traditionally ‘male’ terms of success and of value. In a way, the female experience of motherhood disrupts this and is many times in friction with these imperatives. To think of feminist mothering has meant a lot of the times the fight for women to be able to work, to return to work, maternity leave, which are all amazing results of feminist struggles. However, I feel more work needs to be done in terms of valuing the work of mothering – and thus putting money, policies, and translating these into actual practices, which means changing very stubborn values and the relations that support them. Though much feminist thinking has been done in terms of trying to tackle this sticky issue, a lot of it uses approaches that I think are limiting. Many of the things I read resonate in one way or the other, but I feel much of it still uses binary thinking, for instance in terms of mother needs vs baby’s needs, power vs submission, production and reproduction, dialectical thinking. I think this way of thinking about mothering produces and frames issues in ways that can be useful for certain strategic political struggles, but that leave too much out for it to be valuable to create other, alternative types of politics.
Finally, mothering and feminist thinking teach me that the chaos, the rush, the dazzling moments, the crises, the sense that you need to plan your day as a war strategist, and all the love involved are just part of the process. All these contradictory emotions are just “normal”, but they are not exclusively private in the sense that they need to be lived in isolation. Mothering is a complex experience that mobilizes women’s cultural, social and class identities, but it needs to be transferred to the public space, not for it to be publicly scrutinized but to share it in order to transform gender relations and patriarchal structures.
In part, the posts from maternalselves linked to here were inspired by my 10 questions about your feminist motherhood. You can find all the many other responses in this series here. If you’d like to respond to these questions yourself you can either email me your answers and I’ll put them on blue milk as a guest post or you can post them elsewhere and let me know and I’ll link to them.