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#301 of 327 Old 03-18-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
In some ways, I am different from my husband. I have a uterus and boobs - I went through childbirth and breastfeeding. These are not cultural constructs and to suggest otherwise is silly. These differences have very important behavior and time expenditure impact.
Yeah, I get this. I don't think anyone would seriously argue that there are NO biological differences between male/female bodies, and most would agree that gender has an impact on how we think, feel, behave and understand ourselves. The experiences of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding are unique to women. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool social-constructionist acknowledges this.

What is problematic for feminists, is the explicit assertion (by maternalists, etc) that these differences indicate a universal 'maternal instinct', regardless of race, class or social status. That there is a maternal instinct that flows from the 'body' and thus informs the mothering experience for all women. [But, we know that women who have never given birth, or who have had their wombs/breasts removed can still 'mother'] Again, that ALL women are essentially nurturing, relationship-oriented, community-minded....you get the picture, based on their experience in a female body is troubling. KWIM?

It's tricky, because while some women argue that focusing on women's so-called inherent nurturing qualities is empowering, others argue that biological essentialism serves only to perpetuate male-domination and constrain women's opportunities.
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#302 of 327 Old 03-18-2007, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Off-topic but...

Siobhan -- thanks so much for your post, which encapsulates so much that I find troubling about the romantic view of hunter/gathers and of ancient human societies that is prevalent on this forum. Living in a society where something as simple as for example, appendicitis or a broken leg, means death should not be thought of fondly without acknowledgment of the downsides.

I, too, have concerns about how Western aid, and the ties we put on it, may be either be forcing change or preservation of certain ways of life without allowing the societies in question to chose their own direction. Maybe in the end such societies will choose 200 cable channels and a subscription to "US Weekly", but should we deny them the ability to make that choice? That's someting I struggle with.
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#303 of 327 Old 03-18-2007, 10:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by katheek77 View Post
*shrug*

It might be anti-feminist, or anti-AP, but it's pro-my-family.

Am I missing the big deal?
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#304 of 327 Old 03-18-2007, 10:49 PM
 
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I think the big deal is that some AP ideals can leave many mothers feeling compelled or pressured to do things a certain way and to a certain level when it's beyond their available capacity or resources, for one example. And I think it's a big deal if the ideas behind AP seep into the mainstream and are still primarily focused on mothers and their parenting role. Dr. Sears is pretty good at this I think.
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#305 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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I just have to say, once again that I love MDC. This is a great discussion and I don't know anyone IRL I could have it with who wouldn't think I was a freak.

Hmm...maybe that means I need to get some new friends to add to my RL circle.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#306 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 10:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
Yeah, I get this. I don't think anyone would seriously argue that there are NO biological differences between male/female bodies, and most would agree that gender has an impact on how we think, feel, behave and understand ourselves. The experiences of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding are unique to women. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool social-constructionist acknowledges this.
heh - two examples to the contrary.
1. on alt.soc.bi back in the old usenet days, two close friends of mine met each other in a massive flame war, started when one of them stated "the biological function of female breasts is to feed babies/children" (it was a discussion about why men have nipples, etc). Well, this statement started a sh!tstorm of women screaming "don't you DARE tell me what to do with my body!" and "My breasts are NOT for feeding babies!" My breasts are for ME!"

Sadly, I have had similar experiences myself with rather radical (mainly childfree) feminists. I've also been told by self-identified feminists that discussions of motherhood and feminism are not important in defining feminism, because if we do discuss motherhood, we are falling into an essentialist trap. The fact that over 90% of all women experience motherhood seems to have escaped their logic.

2. during my Anthropology Master's I got into an extended arguement where I made the statement that *gasp* there are two sexes (note I said sexes, not genders - I do know the difference). I was shouted down with lots of examples of asexual humans and hermaphrodites, etc.

But from a strictly biological perspective, there are two sexes. Period. Yes, there are exceptions, but since those exceptions are unable to reproduce, they are not included by biologists as a separate sex, but rather as outliers.

What bugs me about both examples above is the inability to separate the political/social definition of gender from the scientific/biological definition of sex. Yes, biology is not destiny. But it is also not a blank slate either as some would like to believe because it is more consistant with their political perspective.

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What is problematic for feminists, is the explicit assertion (by maternalists, etc) that these differences indicate a universal 'maternal instinct', regardless of race, class or social status.
I do get your point. I personally am not all about the maternal essence. I think it is another great way to trap women into expectations.

On desperate housewives recently, the character of Edi had a great quote -

Edi - "you think I am a horrible person"
Carlos "I didn't say that"
Edi - "you think I am a horrible mother, and for a woman, that is the same thing."

She goes on to say that she knows she isn't a good mother and that is the reason she intentionally doesn't have custody of her kid. But since the character is already so unpleasent, it underlines and reinforces the many flaws in her character. I felt it was heavily implied that the character is missing that "maternal instinct" that would guide her to make the right choices for her son and that this is an indiciation of a deep failure in character. My interpretation, however was that she is just missing some basic responsibility and ownership of her problems. But I digress.

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It's tricky, because while some women argue that focusing on women's so-called inherent nurturing qualities is empowering, others argue that biological essentialism serves only to perpetuate male-domination and constrain women's opportunities.
we have some similar and some different needs than men. Whether those needs come from biology, culture, or out of our asses, this doesn't change the fact that our needs are not identical. Does defining where they come from change the fact that they are not being met? Honest question - what is the role in determining the source of our difference?

Because if the source is biology, then the difference has to be accepted and dealt with. If the source is culture than the culture (read women, mainly, though it would help if men changed too) should change. But I think we are saying that most of the time it is both.

Siobhan

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#307 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 12:35 PM
 
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I've also been told by self-identified feminists that discussions of motherhood and feminism are not important in defining feminism, because if we do discuss motherhood, we are falling into an essentialist trap. The fact that over 90% of all women experience motherhood seems to have escaped their logic.
Oh, I'm well aware of this flawed logic!

I've run into several self-identified 'feminists' who would argue that discussions of motherhood in a feminist context is hardly worth a nod. Of course, it is simply because motherhood complicates the idea of the 'liberated' woman, that some 'radical-types' would just prefer if us feminist moms would stop throwing our motherhood in their faces.

I helped organize a student-led feminist conference back in October, and I'll tell ya, some of the looks I got from my so-called 'feminist sisters' when confronted with my explicit pregnant body, with my two kiddos in tow, were VERY telling about how uncomfortable they were with the very idea of motherhood. There was a very clear distain, like "who let this pregnant mother into our feminist conference?"


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On desperate housewives recently, the character of Edi had a great quote -

Edi - "you think I am a horrible person"
Carlos "I didn't say that"
Edi - "you think I am a horrible mother, and for a woman, that is the same thing."

She goes on to say that she knows she isn't a good mother and that is the reason she intentionally doesn't have custody of her kid. But since the character is already so unpleasent, it underlines and reinforces the many flaws in her character. I felt it was heavily implied that the character is missing that "maternal instinct" that would guide her to make the right choices for her son and that this is an indiciation of a deep failure in character. My interpretation, however was that she is just missing some basic responsibility and ownership of her problems. But I digress.
Love that exchange. (I've never actually seen this show, but friends have been saying I should tune-in, because it is very relevant.)

The part bolded above is very interesting to me. I think the idea of a maternal instinct is very much a myth--but, it allows us to 'forgive' mothers who we perceive as not making the 'right' choices. Poor dear...she just doesn't have a maternal instinct.

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we have some similar and some different needs than men. Whether those needs come from biology, culture, or out of our asses, this doesn't change the fact that our needs are not identical. Does defining where they come from change the fact that they are not being met? Honest question - what is the role in determining the source of our difference?
Good question. I don't know. I argree that it is rather counter-productive though, to indulge in hand-wringing over it when there is so much work that needs to be done. I truly believe that the Women's movement is doomed in the credibility department if it doesn't take motherhood seriously. We have to ask ourselves: How can we further the advancement of women's equality, while simutaneously, creating the material conditions that ensure that ALL mothers (and fathers) can nurture their children?
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#308 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 01:09 PM
 
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I truly believe that the Women's movement is doomed in the credibility department if it doesn't take motherhood seriously.

But it doesn't though. It's up to mothers and mothers are already stretched so thin. I think there is too much internalized patriarchal disrespect for mothers and "mothering" in most feminists. Until they have kids, that is, if they do. Perhaps not enough mothers think they deserve and need change, though I think that is finally changing. But then that's not surprising, b/c most women I know (mothers and nonmothers alike) don't consider themselves feminists and demand change.
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#309 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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Perhaps not enough mothers think they deserve and need change, though I think that is finally changing. But then that's not surprising, b/c most women I know (mothers and nonmothers alike) don't consider themselves feminists and demand change.
Valid points. However, as Fuller mentioned earlier, there is an emerging Mother's movement in the U.S. Here are a few sites to look at:

www.mothersoughttohaveequalrights.org

www.mothersmovement.org

www.mothersandmore.org

www.motherhoodproject.org

www.motherscentre.org
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#310 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:23 PM
 
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Yes I said it's changing. I have all those bookmarked. Somewhat comical for me, b/c I've had childfree radical feminists tell me that mothers arent' doing anything, when I knew about all of those. So you don't have to convince me of a movement, though I think it's true that most people don't know about them and the movement is slow going. I think momsrising is getting more publicity.
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#311 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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Yes I said it's changing. I have all those bookmarked. Somewhat comical for me, b/c I've had childfree radical feminists tell me that mothers arent' doing anything, when I knew about all of those. So you don't have to convince me of a movement, though I think it's true that most people don't know about them and the movement is slow going. I think momsrising is getting more publicity.
Oops, sorry to preach to the choir.
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#312 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:34 PM
 
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s'ok. I do think mothers are doing a lot more than feminist are, in general.
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#313 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:39 PM
 
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s'ok. I do think mothers are doing a lot more than feminist are, in general.
I think there are many feminist mothers out there too though.

Have you checked out the Association for Research on Mothering? (I won't link it in case you already have the link ) Anyway, the most recent publication out of there is entitled: Mothering and Feminism I just received my copy this afternoon.
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#314 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:41 PM
 
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I think there are many feminist mothers out there too though.

Have you checked out the Association for Research on Mothering? (I won't link it in case you already have the link ) Anyway, the most recent publication out of there is entitled: Mothering and Feminism I just received my copy this afternoon.
heck, give US the link! there are a bunch of us enjoying this thread.

I belong to a livejournal group called motherism addressing this very topic. It has gone silent recently, though.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#315 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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heck, give US the link! there are a bunch of us enjoying this thread.

I belong to a livejournal group called motherism addressing this very topic. It has gone silent recently, though.
Absolutely!

www.yorku.ca/crm

I've only had a chance to skim the forementioned journal, but it looks promising.
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#316 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 04:17 PM
 
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This is one of my only complaints about the feminist movement. That motherhood is not embraced. That marriage is not embraced.

I think it drives most women away. It absolutely drives away immigrant women, when they are the women who could usually be the most helped by the original suffrage movement.

I think it limits the ability of feminism to be accepted into all cultures. Makes it far more difficult for real women to get into the trenches with women all over the World, to help women with actual issues in their lives and their culture.

The fact is that most women are mothers. Most women will marry. Making these two basic life experiences of women out to be hideous, unappealing, oppressive, and unacceptable to the free woman is ridiculous and dangerous. Worse, it is a useless endevour rendering the people who propogate it useless to the lives of almost every woman on the planet.

The fact is and will remain that in EVERY culture where women are free, children are treated better. The cultures themselves are more fluid. That alone makes feminism for everyday women the best thing on the planet. To refuse to acknowledge and embrace one of the most universal female experiences on the planet is like pretending that the Sun doesn't exist.
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#317 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 04:28 PM
 
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I think there are many feminist mothers out there too though.

Have you checked out the Association for Research on Mothering? (I won't link it in case you already have the link ) Anyway, the most recent publication out of there is entitled: Mothering and Feminism I just received my copy this afternoon.

No, I mean mothers, be they feminist or not, as opposed to the feminist movement in general. I know mothers who are feminist (including myself), but I know of no childless feminists who support mothers.
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#318 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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I just picked up a copy of Sears' latest book "The Healthiest Child in Your Neighborhood." The title alone is sort of appealing to that 'higher than thou' attitude. But I like Dr. Sears' insights and I can read through it without being offended so I got it. But throughout the book he does this. He calls mothers who feed their kids healthy non-sugar diets "pure moms" and those that don't "non-pure moms" Can anyone see how Sears gets a bad rap?

I also agree with all the sentiments around here about people starting threads for the purpose of judging mainstream mothers. Maybe its retaliation or just venting but it seems there are a lot of people who define themselves by bagging on mainstream people.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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#319 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 04:57 PM
 
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Oh gawd. Well, I'm a NON-pure mom in more ways than one.
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#320 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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He calls mothers who feed their kids healthy non-sugar diets "pure moms" and those that don't "non-pure moms" Can anyone see how Sears gets a bad rap?
Sears' troubles run a lot deeper than that. He's a homophobic sexist for two. I stopped buying his books long ago and I encourage others to do the same. There are other authors out there who promote gentle parenting w/o the fundemental religious views thrown in. Talk about judgmental...
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#321 of 327 Old 03-19-2007, 10:15 PM
 
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I know I should be kind of disturbed by the pure/nonpure thing, but it's so out blatant that I almost find it kind of hilarious.
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#322 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 09:46 AM
 
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I know I should be kind of disturbed by the pure/nonpure thing, but it's so out blatant that I almost find it kind of hilarious.
it's hard to take it seriously.

-Aldulterated Mom aka:
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#323 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 11:31 AM
 
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Sears' troubles run a lot deeper than that. He's a homophobic sexist for two. I stopped buying his books long ago and I encourage others to do the same. There are other authors out there who promote gentle parenting w/o the fundemental religious views thrown in. Talk about judgmental...
Really? Does he say things about homosexuals? The sexist views run throughout his books...in the healthiest child in your neighborhood, he goes on and on about what mothers feed their children, he could easily have edited the whole thing to say "parents" but over and over it sends the msg...mothers are solely responsible for their childrens diets.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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#324 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 02:09 PM
 
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This is one of my only complaints about the feminist movement. That motherhood is not embraced. That marriage is not embraced.

I think it drives most women away. It absolutely drives away immigrant women, when they are the women who could usually be the most helped by the original suffrage movement.

I think it limits the ability of feminism to be accepted into all cultures. Makes it far more difficult for real women to get into the trenches with women all over the World, to help women with actual issues in their lives and their culture.

The fact is that most women are mothers. Most women will marry. Making these two basic life experiences of women out to be hideous, unappealing, oppressive, and unacceptable to the free woman is ridiculous and dangerous. Worse, it is a useless endevour rendering the people who propogate it useless to the lives of almost every woman on the planet.

The fact is and will remain that in EVERY culture where women are free, children are treated better. The cultures themselves are more fluid. That alone makes feminism for everyday women the best thing on the planet. To refuse to acknowledge and embrace one of the most universal female experiences on the planet is like pretending that the Sun doesn't exist.
Interesting post. Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean by 'free women'?
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#325 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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Really? Does he say things about homosexuals? The sexist views run throughout his books...in the healthiest child in your neighborhood, he goes on and on about what mothers feed their children, he could easily have edited the whole thing to say "parents" but over and over it sends the msg...mothers are solely responsible for their childrens diets.
Yes he makes extremely offensive comments about homosexuality in his book for fathers.

Reading that crap was the end of my respect for Dr. Sears.
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#326 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 02:29 PM
 
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Interesting post. Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean by 'free women'?
People who are free under the law, people who have access to the pursuit of the equality of opportunities available. Very simply that.

Given the legal freedom to avail oneself of the opportunities we see fit for ourselves is the most basic freedom upon which all other freedom of self is created. Even if the available opportunities for an individual or culture are limited to an extent, the legal freedom of equal opportunity increases exponentially over the years and generations. So that the woman who exercises freedoms today, actually increases those possibilities for successive generations. Simply through the pursuit of freedom and the establishment of such in one's own life.
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#327 of 327 Old 03-20-2007, 02:49 PM
 
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So that the woman who exercises freedoms today, actually increases those possibilities for successive generations. Simply through the pursuit of freedom and the establishment of such in one's own life.
I really like the way you put this, and it echoes the way I model MY feminism (particularly for my daughter). I'm sure you've heard of, maybe read, Adrienne Rich's book Of Woman Born ? (It's 30 years old now...yikes.)

Whenever I start to feel guilty about living an independent life--outside and in combination with my role as a mother, I read this part:

[What daughters need] are mothers who want their own freedom and ours...The quality of the mother's life - however, embattled and unprotected - is her primary bequest to her daughter, because a woman who can believe in herself, who is a fighter, and who continues to struggle to create livable space around her, is demonstating to her daughter that these possibilities exist. (1979; 247)
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