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Mother Outlaws

Adrienne Rich opened of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution with the observation "we know more about the air we breath, the seas we travel, than about the nature and meaning of motherhood." In the twentyfive plus years since the publication of Rich's landmark book the topic of motherhood has emerged as a central issue in feminist scholarship. Central to Rich's analysis and developed by subsequent motherhood scholars is the key distinction Rich made in her book. 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. 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 oppressive motherhood thus must be distinguished from the possibility or potentiality of empowered mothering. 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. The theory and practice of empowered mothering recognizes that both mothers and children benefit when the mother lives her life, and practices mothering, from a position of agency, authority, and autonomy. Secondly, this new perspective, in this collection examines how mothers seek to imagine and implement a theory and practice of mothering that is empowering to women as opposed tooppressive under five sections: Feminist Mothering Lesbian Mothering, African American Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons.
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Andrea O'ReillySection One: Feminist MotheringChapter One: Feminist mothers: Successfully negotiating the tensions between motherhood as ""institution"" and ""experience"" - Fiona GreenChapter Two: Resistance as a site of empowerment: The journey away from maternal sacrifice - Erika HorwitzChapter Three: ""We were conspirators, outlaws from the institution of motherhood"": Mothering against motherhood and the possibility of empowered maternity for mothers and their children - Andrea O'ReillyChapter Four: The (male) advantage of a feminist mother - Juanita Ross Epp and Sharon CookChapter Five: Telling our stories: Feminist mothers and daughters - Christina BakerChapter Six: From perfect housewife to fishnet stockings and not quite back again: One mother's story of leaving home - Petra BuskensSection Two: Lesbian MotheringChapter Seven: Imag(in)ing the queer lesbian family - Jacqui GabbChapter Eight: Our kids in the hall: Lesbian families negotiate the public school system - Rachel EpsteinChapter Nine: Lesbian mothers and the law of custody, access, and child support - Joanna RadbordChapter Ten: Lesbian nonbiological mothering: Negotiating an (un)familiar existence - Dawn ComeauSection Three: African-American MotheringChapter Eleven: A politics of the heart: African-American womanist thought on mothering - Andrea O'ReillyChapter Twelve: Black women's mothering in a historical and contemporary perspective: Understanding the past, forging the future - Erica LawsonChapter Thirteen: Community mothering: The relationship between mothering and the community work of black women - Arlene E. EdwardsChapter Fourteen: ""You'll become a lioness"": African-American women talk about mothering - Trudelle ThomasChapter Fifteen: Reflections on the mutuality of mothering: Women, children, and othermothering - Njoki Nathani WaneSection Four: Mothers and DaughtersChapter Sixteen: Across the divide: Contemporary Anglo-American feminist theory on the mother-daughter relationship - Andrea O'ReillyChapter Seventeen: The global self-esteem of an African-American adolescent female and her relationship with her mother - Barbara TurnageChapter Eighteen: Don't blame mother: Then and now - Paula CaplanChapter Nineteen: Mother of mothers, daughter of daughters: Reflections on the motherline - Naomi LowinskyChapter Twenty: A daughter's praise poem for her mother: Historicizing community activism and racial uplist among South African women - Dolana MogadimeSection Five: Mothers and SonsChapter Twenty-One: In black and white: African-American and Anglo-American feminist perspectives on mothers and sons - Andrea O'ReillyChapter Twenty-Two: Bringing our boyz to men: Black men's reflections on their mothers' childrearing influences - Wanda Thomas BernardChapter Twenty-Three: Swimming against the tide: Feminists' accounts of mothering sons - Alison M. ThomasChapter Twenty-Four: Raising relational boys - Cate Dooley and Nikki FedeleChapter Twenty-Five: A mom and her son: Thoughts on feminist mothering - Andrea O'Reilly

About the Author

Dr Andrea O'Reilly is Director of the Association for Research on Mothering, and is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at York University. Dr O'Reilly is highly respected in the field and has published seven books on motherhood.


Mother Outlaws makes an enormously important contribution to Women's Studies, a field that tends to neglect the topic of mothering or present it with such ambivalence that it is a wonder college men and women go on to have families. ... [The text provides] abundant evidence that there can be such a thing as empowerment mothering, thereby instilling optimism in today's young men and women." - Dr. Robbie Pfeufer Kahn, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Vermont

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