The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right

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Alexis Jetter, Annelise Orleck, Diana Taylor, Diana Taylor, PhD RN NP Faan
University Press of New England [for] Dartmouth College, 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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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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