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Archive for the ‘feminist motherhood’ Category

I liked Kim Brooks’article on motherhood and creativity but a lot of people didn’t. Here’s a very thoughtful reply to that article from Sarah Menkedick in Vela.

And yet, as a new mother, I wrote. And I needed to write. Not because I needed to make a name for myself or prove my genius, but because I needed to work my everyday experience into larger truths, to see it anew and connect it to a bigger realm. I needed to honor that everyday experience by scrubbing it and scrubbing it into polished, spot-on sentences that reflected it clearly.

It is rare for me to write this way. So much of what I had written before had an intellectual motor behind it, the wheel of my brain churning and churning out product. This writing did not. It both illuminated and paled behind the quotidian, the acts— huge, breathtaking, and so small as to be nearly invisible—of parental care.

In many ways, I think this writing made me a better mother. It made me pay attention to mothering, which I began to see as an incredibly complex, difficult, beautiful, personal, universal realm so underserved by literature; it made me see my daughter the way Annie Dillard saw Tinker Creek, the way Peter Matthiessen saw the labyrinthine ravines around the Crystal Monastery, as intricate mysteries worthy of rapt, careful attention.

There’s much to love here and it discusses many important points in reply to Brooks’ like who says mothering isn’t creative energy and who says the purpose of art is to disrupt.. but, controversial… I have a bit of ‘wait and see’ reaction whenever new mothers talk about the journey of motherhood and what is and isn’t.

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This is really interesting! From “What does it mean when we call women girls?” by Robin Wasserman in Literary Hub.

Here’s how Louis CK draws the distinction between girl and woman:

[22-year old girls] might say, I’m 22, I’m totally a woman… Not to me, sorry. To me you’re not a woman until you’ve had a couple of kids and your life is in the toilet… when you become a woman is when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams.

If it’s easy to see how the girl label attaches to unmoored millennials, it’s less evident how it applies to women firmly rooted in the adult phase of life. But it makes sense if we read the “girl” narratives as corrective to the Louis CK threshold, the “girls” as women who refuse to let a little thing like people coming out of their vaginas ruin their dreams.

All the Single Ladies, journalist Rebecca Traister’s recent take on the rise of the single woman, opens with her childhood conviction that the marriage plot was less fairy tale than Shakespearean tragedy. “It was supposed to be romantic, but it felt bleak,” she writes of the nuptial trajectories of her girlhood literary heroes. “Paths that were once wide and dotted with naughty friends and conspiratorial sisters and malevolent cousins, with scrapes and adventures and hopes and passions, had narrowed and now seemed to lead only to the tending of dull husbands and the rearing of insipid children to whom the stories would be turned over.”

The girl books crowding the nonfiction shelf are written by and about women who insist on sticking to that wide path, women who refuse to Jo March themselves into a supporting role in their own life: girlhood as a state of mind.

The word attaches itself with special frequency to women in music and the sciences—not as diminishment of their achievement, but as its trophy. Girl in a Band, Lab Girl, Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl, Rise of the Rocket Girls: these are women who followed their girlhood passions into male-dominated fields and triumphed. Their stories speak of subverting gender expectations, breaking barriers, and—at least on the page—prioritizing work and art over the role of domestic caretaker.

In Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon pauses—briefly—in her tale of Sonic Youth’s rise to acknowledge the birth of her daughter: “Yes, she changed our lives, and no one is more important to me. But the band played on.” Gordon spent the first half of her career answering journalists’ inevitable question about what it was like to be a girl in a band; the moment she gave birth, they instead wanted to know: “What’s it like to be a rock-and-roll mom?” Her daughter might well be the most important thing in her life, but she’s nearly irrelevant to this story, which is about music, ambition, and the need to create. Gordon writes about her difficulties expressing her true self, relieved only by art: “For me the page, the gallery, and the stage became the only places my emotions could be expressed….Art, and the practice of making art, was the only space that was mine alone.”

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I was a guest for Kelly Higgins-Devine on ABC radio the other day for her hour long discussion event for Mothers’ Day. It was a lovely panel I was with and they fed us cake.

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Andrea O’Reilly is the business. Here, below in the video, she is giving a talk on Matricentric Feminism at a conference in Rome.

Soon, Andrea O’Reilly is coming to Melbourne for the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference. She’s pretty much the queen of this branch of feminism and is responsible for huge leaps in my thinking over the last ten years. If you can see her speak it’s very much worth it. Buy a ticket, you can even get a day-rate ticket if you like. (The questions she is asking about feminism and our failure to properly include mothers around the 10 minute mark in this video are some of the big debates we’re having today).

Also, I will be on a panel at the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference with Anne Manne, Fiona Giles and Petra Bueskens talking about Mothering Under Neo-Liberalism. To say I am excited to be on a panel with these women, some of my favourite thinkers in the country is a huge understatement.

    

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Mamapalooza Festival 2016 – celebrating mothers in the arts – kicks off in Sydney shortly. Running from 14-28 May with film, stand-up comedy and bands, you can get more information by contacting mamapaloozasydney@gmail.com

Speaking of film, I have long wanted to see this one, the award-winning Who Does She Think She Is. If you’re in Sydney I recommend catching it as part of the festival program. And then telling me about it, because I was a guest speaker at Mamapalooza a couple of years ago but my budget doesn’t extend to getting to Sydney again right now.

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I am so incredibly charmed by Overland‘s inaugural writer’s residency being offered this year to single mothers. 

If this is you, please please consider applying. It’s a wonderful opportunity including space, resources, money and an amazing mentor in Alison Croggon.

It’s based in Melbourne, so there is that to consider in applying but may many more writing centres in other places consider single mother writers as their pool for residencies in the future.  Because some of my very favourite writers have been single mothers. And I was a single mother and I know it is so hard to write on top of all that.

And basically, this is one of the most feminist gestures I’ve witnessed by a literary journal, go Overland.

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