The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right

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Alexis Jetter, Annelise Orleck, Diana Taylor
UPNE, 1997 - Social Science - 386 pages
Perhaps the most deeply rooted stereotype of motherhood, editor Annelise Orleck writes, is "the notion that mothers are by definition apolitical, isolated with their children in a world of pure emotion, far removed from the welter of politics and social struggle." This collection of essays, interviews, and personal narratives challenges the image of a mutually absorbed madonna and child and explodes the myth that bearing and raising children alters a woman's consciousness in some fundamentally conservative way, silencing her voice and disarming her rebellion.

Instead, these contributors demonstrate that motherhood often redefines and revitalizes a woman's political consciousness. From Love Canal to the Kenyan countryside, from a public housing project in Las Vegas to a plaza in Buenos Aires, from a Minnesota Indian reservation to the Gaza Strip, the radicalizing events differ but the effects are the same. While most mothers from disparate classes, races, nationalities, cultures, and political ideologies mobilize to protect their children from toxic waste, war, racism, or political persecution, some such as KKK mothers fight to maintain hateful stereotypes that put others at risk. By examining the characteristics, effects, contradictions, and prices of "motherist" politics, we can begin to understand the forces that bring these women out from behind their curtains.
 

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Contents

Environmental Justice
23
A Mothers Battle for Environmental Justice Alexis Jetter
44
So Let It Start With Me An Interview with Patsy
53
Sometimes the Road Gets Lonely Dollie Burwell
62
Wangari Maathai and the
70
Motherhood and the
77
Mothers and the Politics of Feeding
87
I Got to Dreamin An Interview with
119
Some Rememberings Grace Paley
204
Good Motherhood as Patriotism Mothers
225
Mothers in RaceHate Movements Kathleen Blee
247
From Thelma and Louise to
257
Housewives and Motherist Politics in the
268
Redefining Motherhood Through Technologies
285
Lesbian Motherhood and Other Small Acts
311
Commercializing Motherhood Rita Arditti
322

Chinese Mothers in New York Citys
127
Mothers and the State
141
Palestinian Motherhood and Political Activism on the
161
Appropriations of
169
The Mothers of the
182
A Portrait
197
Sex Determination
334
The Uneasy Relationship Between
349
Rethinking Maternal Politics Sara Ruddick
369
List of Contributors
383
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About the author (1997)

ALEXIS JETTER is a widely published journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, The Village Voice, The Nation, and Mother Jones. ANNELISE ORLECK is Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth College and author of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965 (1995). DIANA TAYLOR is Professor of Spanish and Chair of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth, author of Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's 'Dirty War' (1996) and other books, and co-editor of Negotiating Performance: Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o America (1994).

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