Week 7 Blog: Valuations of Motherhood

Please post a response to the readings on valuations of motherhood here!

You did not have to post a response this week or last week.

27 thoughts on “Week 7 Blog: Valuations of Motherhood

  1. Liz

    Mothering is viewed differently across many different societies. Women fought to break free from the household to be able to work a full time job against an unfair social norm that said they belonged in the home to care for the children. The article, “The Paradox of Natural Mothering” discusses the story of five women who all practice natural mothering. These women choose to stay home and raise their children, live simple lives and be supported by only one income.
    This article was very intriguing. A majority of the women mentioned that as an individual their own needs were not being met. They sacrificed much for the needs of their children. The thought of sacrificing your own needs for someone else seems like a very difficult task. I don’t have children yet, but hope to have them someday. Reading this article prompted me to think of what type of mother I would want to be. I am not sure if I could sacrifice all my needs for another person. Although I think it is hard for me even to imagine what my needs will be when or if I have a child.
    One of the main reasons that the women choose to mother this way was that they wanted to have healthy and well adjusted children. A close bond was also an important factor that they felt could only be achieved if they were home with their children.
    A lack of support from society seemed to be echoed throughout the article. Words like “isolated” and “freakish” were even used to describe some of the feelings from the women who choose natural mothering. I am not sure if I would choose this type of lifestyle, but it seems like a very difficult part of parenting. To feel a stigma from society but ultimately want the best for your children is a difficult thing. I generally choose not to go against the grain for many things, so I believe it would take a lot of courage to make a choice against the norm to raise your child in the best way you see fit.

  2. Lilly

    Adolescent parenthood is always challenging to mothers and their children. Young mothers are often naive and unprepared for the tasks of parenting. Sometimes adapting the new parental role becomes very complicated by the struggles to negotiate the developmental tasks of adolescence.The article “Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency” investigates the ways in which African American adolescent mothers gain access to resources and services in an urban child welfare system. Seen
    through an ethnographic lens, it was considered by the author how contemporary child welfare policy and the growth of public-private can hybrid in the welfare sector shape with interactions between providers and young dependent or delinquent mothers. This study done by Ms. Silver examines how poor African-American girls who are between the age of 16 to 21 cope with the mismatchbetween expectations around education, employment, parenting and “self-sufficiency” and the reality in which young mothers are not sufficiently assisted to meet requirements.
    A continuing question is the degree to which teenage mothers’ subsequent poverty is the result of early childbearing and the extent to which it is attributable to their prior economic and social disadvantage. Their initial disadvantage, rather than having a baby, is itself a major reason that adolescent mothers are poor later in their lives. Because of their youth and disadvantaged background, teenage mothers are more likely than women who postpone childbearing to rely on their families and public assistance programs to cover the costs of raising a child and to enable them to complete their education and find employment. Even with this help, young parents are not always successful in reaching these goals.

  3. Daisy

    The article, ‘The Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency’ by Lauren Silver, discussed mothers “negotiating the regulations of multiple public and private providers in an urban child welfare system in order to meet their needs and those of their children”. The programs goals for mothers are often contradictory and allow for mothers to be confused about goals. For example, the article states that the Supervised Independent Living program provides young mother with requirements including: attending school and parenting classes, cleaning their apartments and keeping their children happy and healthy. These are somewhat unattainable expectations for these young mothers because they are required to attend educational classes, but are not provided with daycare for their children during that time. Makia, a young mother who was accepted into a University an hour away from her home was forced to leave her son with people while she was at school which produced a cycle of worry, stress and discourage as she tried to balance everything. Her case manager was determined to not let her fail, coming in early to watch her son and give Makia as much help as possible. Supporting adolescent mothers and their children requires a better understanding of resiliency and how it is defined. This will allow services to better cater to individuals and help them to succeed in what they want to accomplish. I think that it is so hard to break free from the cycle of poverty and with so many obstacles, especially for young mothers, programs should be putting their best efforts into coordinating with each other to make it easier for women to be able to get an education or be in the workplace and care for their children. Mother is different social contexts are often given different definitions of resiliency which often times does not match up with the help they are afforded and they are often looked at as being the “undeserving poor” which is untrue and often they are just a product of their surroundings without the proper help to break free from the cycle.

  4. Finkle

    This week’s readings were very interesting. I was particularly interested in the reading from the Paradox of Natural Mothering book. Most of the women interviewed saw themselves as feminists yet chose to relegate themselves to the natural mother role. How is this not avowing patriarchal philosophy of a woman’s role in the family? This was particularly interesting to me because my mother was frowned upon by my father’s mother and sisters for being a career woman and raising her children. I happen to think we turned out okay and that my mother did what she had to do, as we could not survive just on my fathers income. I never had the feeling that my mother worked too much .She saw us off to school every morning and was home when we returned from school. She still did all the women were able to do and have a career. She had fresh meals on the table every lunch and supper, attended all PTA meetings, attended her church events and did all this with grace. After having the opportunity to obtain a college education, I do not see myself giving it up to stay home and raise children full time. Several of my cousins do not have a college education and others were not fortunate enough to even finish high school simply due to cost and are stay at home mothers not by choice, but because they cannot obtain a job without formal training. Given the opportunity, they would rather work than have to depend on their husbands for everything.
    I do not see equality in the woman staying home and taking care of the house and children and the husbands do in most, if not all the stories relayed was to bring home income. The women all mention that this is the life they chose and are happy with it but also say that it is intuitive and natural for women to want to stay home with their children. Not all women have this luxury and not all women that work are materialistic as one of the women seemed to insinuate. I am sure they are women that would rather stay home with their children if they could but they are also women, myself included that want a career. Living an alternative lifestyle in my opinion is choice only afforded to some women in high income countries. For many mothers in low income countries, this is simply not a choice but reality.

  5. Blush

    Much more important than trying to come up with some miracle social welfare system is the capacity to understand that no matter how many generalizations or stereotypes have been created to identify certain groups, individuals all have different emotional, mental, and material needs. The article by Lauren Silver dealing with teenage mothers’ issues highlighted the fact that understanding underlying issues such as familial instibility, poverty, and drug abuse in home life are all factors which contribute to the problems that teenage mothers face. While it is naive to say that factors such as these somehow “cause” the teenage pregnancy, I think it is important to be sensitive to these kinds of problems that many teenage mothers have always had to cope with. For instance, assistance programs meant to help young mothers should perhaps offer more counseling and psychological services rather than making contradictory demands such as stay home and take care of your child and also go to school and get a job right away. It is easy to see how girls like the ones described in the article would feel that their needs are not being met and often feel discouraged or hopeless.

    Also, I feel it is somewhat ignorant to just blame those who come from impoverished or uneducated backgrounds for the problems associated with teenage pregnancy when this country adheres to a fairly rigid class system in which the rich benefit mostly at the expense of the poor and often complain that there are actually too many social welfare programs! Interestingly, no one complains when middle and upper class men and women are given grossly large bonuses, work benefits, “incentives”, and health insurance that is taken for granted while it seems that these are the very same people who are typically outraged by the concept of welfare for those who need help.

    While being a teenage mother is considered taboo, it is also typically taboo to be a lesbian mother, even though there is surely nothing about sexual orientation that could prevent one from being a capable mother. It seems that lesbian mothers “violate” the socially constructed “patriarchal ideal” of heterosexual parenting, much like being a young, unwed mother, or even more specifically, being a young, unwed non-white non middle-class mother violates the patriarchal system and causes uproar among the ones who “should” be reproducing. This idea, once again, goes back to the fact that white, heterosexual, middle class women are the ones most encouraged to reproduce and most celebrated when they do.

    I think the concept of mothering and of being a mother is natural even if you do not smother your children night and day with homeschooling and constant attention. I was kind of insulted that one of the mothers seemed to think it “wasn’t ok” to leave your child for even a day. For many of us, our mothers and fathers and we, as mothers and fathers, need to work, need to have lives and identities other than being mothers and I don’t think there is anything selfish or “unnatural” about that. Rather, I think it is somewhat “unnatural” to never let your kids leave your sight to go to school and have social interaction with other children. I think being a mother is part of life but it is not your entire life. I think it is always healthier to have a balance between being there for your kids and letting them grow up to be independent and productive members of our world; there is a difference between being a good mother who supports and is there for her children and being a mother who creates a suffocating environment. I want my child to be independent and to be able to accept that mom and dad will always be there for him but also want him to make his own choices and grow up to be independent and well-adjusted.

    The fact that these so-called “natural mothers” chose their lifestyle is honorable in that they did choose the lifestyle, but ironically, I think their lifestyle has the potential to do more harm than good to their children. Homeschooling, “family beds”, and constant mother-child bonding sounds like a recipe for maladjustment and too much dependence on parents later in life.

  6. Anonymous

    The reading, Natural Mothering: Five Women, Five Stories, was fascinating to me. Reading the first story about how the women wanted to live off the land but couldn’t afford to after three years and contradicted her former feminist self made me think of my own childhood.

    When I was younger, my parents raised my two brothers and myself while working at jobs they didn’t particularly like, especially my mother. When my youngest brother was able to go to school, my mom went back to get her degree in Respiratory Therapy and began working at a local hospital. She worked second shift and usually wasn’t around to cook dinner or put us to bed. I would never say that she wasn’t a good mother because she is amazing but I always envied my friends for having mothers that were home when they got home from school and cooked dinner every night. It provided us with a closer bond to my dad and grandparents, who babysat us some evenings when my dad worked late. As we got older, my mother only had to work three evenings a week and every other weekend to make as much as my dad working 7-5 Monday through Friday.

    I joke now that when I get married, my husband will be out of his mind if he thinks that I’m going to cook every meal for him and be a perfect housewife. This, I believe, is how I have developed a slightly feminist view. I, of course, want a family and children but I have also spent the past four years educating myself and want to be more than just a “reproducer,” or a housewife. I also have incurred a lot of debt that will need to be paid off and insist on having a full-time job along with my family. I tell my boyfriend now that I will be the breadwinner of the family and he will be a stay at home dad since I am the one who went to college for my degree.

    The reading made me rethink my current stance on being a full-time mother or full-time worker. I would love to be the ideal mother that stays home with her children but I also believe to live comfortable, as I have grown up with, I will have to work. My beliefs are practical but my wishes are naturalistic and I will continue to find a middle ground as I get older and began my family.

  7. b.green

    This weeks readings really challenged my ideas about mothering. Stratified reproduction was a fairly new term to me. The more I thought about how certain women’s reproduction was more valued than others the more I thought of examples that showed this. The article that focused on how Latina women’s constructed really showed the power of media and popular myths. The numbers supported that Latina women were not more sexual or had many more children than the average white woman. It illustrated that other factors such as income and education had a lot more to do with how many children a women had than their ethnicity. It was really striking when the author gathered together many examples of magazines that spoke about the threat that Latina women had on the US by having a lot of children. The most telling example was how Mexicans would be able to take over the U.S. because all they did was have children who used up resources. The study that the author did refuted this, but it’s such a popular myth that it’s hard to shake.
    The article that spoke about teenage mothers in the welfare system was really frustrating to read. All the red tape that these women get stuck in effects their ability to become “success stories”. It was almost shocking to think about how there is only a certain level of education that society wants these women to have, and that it is really hard for them to go beyond levels that society has set for them because of the lack of support that is available to them.

  8. ILoveBueno

    A resounding theme I noticed in the articles about mothering was the divide between being a mother and being an individual. For some women having the option to pursue education, a career, or a life outside their children was very important while for others the most important part of their life was within the home with their children. It made me grasp all of the different options there are for women related to motherhood, and all of the different factors that make those options possible.
    The article about adolescent motherhood was interesting to me because I’ve often heard people blame young mothers for their state of poverty and call those women unfit parents. However the article points out that these young women are born into families that don’t support or provide for options like getting a college education. The system fails these young women then blames them for their ills. State-supported child care seems to me to be an important option not just for young mothers but for mothers of young children in general. Young mothers have to put career and educational goals on the back burner to provide for their child. Many adult women who have children also have these worries, especially women in poverty. In a lot of ways it’s difficult to advance your career or your education when you have to worry about who will care for your child while you find ways to provide a better life and good child care for them. Then society turns around and says that these women shouldn’t have children. This speaks to stratified reproduction. Only wealthy, educated women of a certain age should have a child because they are the ones who can already support them entirely. This isn’t fair.
    The article on Natural Mothering was interesting because the women in the article chose a lifestyle that many women don’t see as a desirable option. In the article the women spoke of feeling alienated and weird because of the way other people treat them. However as I was reading the article I kept thinking that these women were weird and their choices were weird further perpetuating society’s stereotypes against them. It was hard to leave my own subjective opinion behind and read the article in a way that made it possible for me to understand why women would choose to engage in a process of natural mothering.
    The article on lesbian women’s decision to have children made me think about motherhood in a different way. I found it interesting that one lesbian mother said that she didn’t like to spend time with non-mothers because they didn’t understand her experience. The article highlighted the idea of “insiders” and “outsiders” amongst women . Insiders have children and understand what it’s like to be a mother and outsiders should be shunned because they don’t understand. Historically lesbian women were outsiders because they could not have children but science changed that and gave them the ability to be insiders. The author of the article said “Lesbians must resist conventional gender boundaries to achieve the valued goal of motherhood, but in the course of using these strategies they frequently appropriate the very meanings their existence would seem to overthrow”. Instead of changing the norms of motherhood and family life some lesbian women choose to appropriate the lifestyle that for so long society chose to exclude them from. Do these women finally have the tools that they need to achieve their biological desire for motherhood or has science enabled lesbian women to conform to societal stereotypes of what role women should play?

  9. Boston

    In reading “On the Outside Looking In: The Politics of Lesbian Motherhood” many controversial points were brought up. I think that most people in the US would agree that it was important for women to break into the work force. It has not been detrimental to reproduction of the population for women to attend college and have a career of their own. Many women chose to put their career on hold in order to have a child. Though this priveledge is no longer solely for heterosexual women. Both heterosexual families as well as homosexual families have the ability to have children. It still isn’t even limited to that, but single parents can also have children. Modern medicine allows us to implant a fertilized egg into a healthy women carrier. This is a great development because it allows people that wouldnt naturally be able to produce offspring to be able to be parents. This is not only important for lesbians so that they may have donated sperm but also for heterosexual couples that are unable to produce children on their own due to medical conditions. This method and others like it do not harm motherhood in any way. As long as a child is born with someone to love it, it does not matter the circumstance, a guardian will give it the same love as the traditional family would. They all recieve the same feelings and priveleges of parenthood. If adopting a child into a heterosexual family is a wonderful thing and allows the child to have a home and the parent(s) to go through parenthood than the same should be for lesbian and gay parents. Each family has their own parenting style, some working better than others, but simply by being a lesbian couple does not make the women unfit for motherhood. This in no way means that women no longer need men, but it means that each person is intitled to make their own decision and whatever the outcome of that decision is should not determine whether or not they are fit for motherhood, especially since there is an increasing amount of healthy heterosexual women that are choosing their careers over motherhood.

  10. cupcake

    As I read the readings for this week, especially “On the Outside Looking In”, I thought about my own upbringing and what my mother instilled on me. My mother raised me alone while simultaneously working two or three jobs at the same time. While I thought (and still do think) she is a hero for doing so, I learned recently that many people gave her a lot of trouble for it. People said it wasn’t “natural” or “right” for a child to grow up in such a “destructive” environment. How do you define natural, right, and destructive? Who are these people to tell my mother how to raise her child? My mother told her critics “this was her only choice”. And it was. But it didn’t mean she stopped loving me, or missed my dance recitals, or forgot to pick me up from a friends’ house. I think I turned out pretty good despite my “destructive” upbringing.

    Another article that sparked my interest was “The Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency”. I found it rather disturbing that these programs – put on by the state – are failing miserably. One would think that such a program would help more people than harm it. It seems that these young girls are being punished for being young, poor, and minority mothers. Pregnancy and motherhood should never be a punishment regardless of whether it was planned or not.

  11. Finkle

    Re Blush

    I too was disturbed by the child center approach to raising a family. The idea that a child could not be left without the mother for a day was ridiculous for me as well. That is why there are parents and children. The parents hopefully have more experience and are able to make the decisions for their children.
    The one woman that was interviewed that was still making sandwiches for her 21 year old son may be an example of the dependency that may result from what I also view as smothering. Children are supposed to be equipped to make their own decisions once they are on their own and if they get used to a parent holding their hand through everything, I am afraid of the results.

  12. Arewa

    Around where I live there are many high schools that provide a day care for adolescent mothers to bring their child(ren) while they obtained their education. Some people were for this and some were against it. The reason why some people were against it is because they felt the school system was basically advertising teen pregnancy. They also felt that the school was contradicting themselves because while they were teaching the students about safe sex they were also providing child day care. I can see why someone would have this point of view. I remember watching and episode of the Maury show about teens who wanted to get pregnant. Maury asked the girls how they would support their child if they were to get pregnant and some of the girls’ response were “Welfare”. They said the government would help them support their child. That should not be anyone’s reason to get pregnant. Hearing this made me believe that just because these girls see that there are these types of alternatives available for mothers who are unable to support their children makes them think its okay and they’ll do fine. That’s why I understand why some people are against schools providing day care for students. Because when the students see that this is available, that might increase the amount of adolescent mothers. I can also see why people are for this opportunity. We can’t hide that fact that teen pregnancy is increasing like crazy. A lot of teens drop out of school because they don’t feel that they can deal with the challenge of juggling taking care of a child, going to school and also working to gain financial support. There are many girls who are high on academics and happened to get pregnant by accident. With schools providing day care, girls would not be so quick to give up on school and can still pursue their dreams.

    In “Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency” there was an adolescent mother apart of the SIL named, Malika, who was “burdened by her inability to obtain childcare”. She was able to get into college after she graduated from high school, but was unable to stay focused because she didn’t have childcare and had to leave her son with different people while she was at school. This caused distraction and Malika was forced to take a semester off. The SIL program should provide daycare for these students. Not having daycare is preventing Malika from fulfilling her dreams and being able do right her her child. Which is sad. I hate to see people who come from a bad background and are trying to do good and basically are turned down.

    To comment on Blush’s comment on being a mother without smothering your child with homeschooling and being with them day and night etc. I agree with totally. I was going to make a statement that being a just because a woman works does not make her a part time mom. I know when it’s time for me to start a family, even if I have a 9 to 5 job I will always be available for my child. I will drop whatever I’m doing for my child’s needs. I don’t need to be a stay at home mom to be available for my child. Acting like a mother and not neglecting your child is my definition of being a natural mother.

  13. the_fallen

    I was not too surprised when one of the articles mentioned that the women that were targeted were indigenous, poor, uneducated women with limited or no access to better health care. The article talked about studies that were done in Peru and many Latin American countries where many women were sterilized without informed consent and without fully knowing what they were getting into. What was disturbing was the fact that these women’s bodies and their human rights were violated because they were not considered part of the population but rather a burden to the population. These women were mostly poor and uneducated so what good could they do for their country? These women’s bodies were seen as a way of reducing poverty and increasing the economy. However not everyone agreed to what was happening. There were many activist groups out there that were fighting for these women.
    In another article, I really loved the fact that the author mentioned the gender roles and how women are perceived if they do not do what they were “born” for. Women are the reproductive species therefore if for any reasons they decide not to perform their biological roles, they are criticized or more like crucified. Many European countries see abortions as a destruction of a race of humanity to exaggerate. But am I really exaggerating? Women are not allowed to decide what they should do with their bodies because of irrational social beliefs. Women are kind of appreciated if they reproduce and seen as “traitors” if they do not. Worst of all, women are not taken care of because of, once more, irrational social beliefs that women are inferior to men. What gives people the right to say that I, a woman, am inferior to someone that I gave birth to? Without men or women there would be no offspring which in my eyes calls for equality but unfortunately it is the opposite. Women, mostly the poor ones, are used, sometimes like lab rats, and then pushed on the side because they are no longer needed.

  14. Jazzy06

    Reading these articles, especially Leo Chavez’s A Glass Half Empty: Latina Reproduction and Public Discourse, brought something very clear to mind: the idea that segregation and sterilization are still very prevalent in our modern society. While we have discussed sterilization in class before, I thought that this specific article so blatantly claimed the continuation of sterilization in America. Although it may be called something different, Chavez’s article gave me the feeling that this type of cruelty towards women is still present in the country we claim to deliver freedom and equality to all.

    The most astounding piece of Chavez’s article was the inclusion of the idea of the “black welfare mother” and how this image is “perpetuating social problems.” (Dorothy Roberts 1997b:3) This idea is used to promote the false vision that women of certain races should not be allowed to reproduce by claiming that colored women are less effective as mothers. The article claims that “African American women pose a “reproductive threat””, a piece of propaganda which can alter society’s judgment of reproduction and women of color.

  15. HM

    The articles on Natural Mothering interested me because the way the women thought about motherhood and how to mother children doesn’t fit in with the way I was raised or how I personally feel is the best or only way to mother. The responses of four of the women in the “Introduction: Five Women, Five Stories” reminded me of some of the issues people had with second wave feminism and the major goals of the movement. The women were very focused on the idea that the ideal place for a woman with children is home parenting their children, even if they have to give up certain luxuries that a second income could provide. This is a uniquely middle class idea. Michelle Jones-Grant stated “But I also think that being able to raise our children should be and is for a lot of women the feminist issue of the day” (6). This reflects a problem of the second wave movement many women had, only in reverse in some ways, that the idea that women should be able to work outside the home rather than being forced to stay home and raise children was classist and heteronormative. Many women argued that lower class women had no choice but to work. This argument works similarly in this case. The point made by some of these women, that they can give up some luxury items to stay home with their children and that other women should do that as well, is impossible for people who work low-income jobs where the loss of a second income would mean not feeding their children or having a place to sleep at night, or for women who don’t have a partner in raising their children and would have no income if they didn’t work. The experience of the last woman reflects this, as she couldn’t stay at home with her child, but it seemed like too little too late. At the same time the government’s insistence that Betsy Morehouse find a job in order to continue receiving aid shows how little society values the way certain women choose to mother their children. It’s not wrong for her to believe that her child’s best interests are served when she stays home with him, but she can’t make that choice because society doesn’t respect the choice of lower class woman to stay home with her children and “feed off the state.” This reflects the fact that in our society we respect and idolize motherhood, but only if it is done in certain ways.
    The glorification of certain types of motherhood was also reflected in the article on lesbian motherhood. However, I considered the author’s placing of motherhood as a lesbian as a conscious feminist decision to be somewhat problematic. This emphasis on the choice of becoming a lesbian and a mother as a feminist choice others lesbian motherhood just as much as those people who don’t want lesbians to be mothers because they see gay people only in terms of sexuality. This may have been a result of the article being written around 1995 when gay parenting was in some ways just coming into the consciousness of the straight community. The author of course has a desire to understand and learn about lesbian motherhood, but she relied heavily on a straight person’s interpretation of what the lesbian mothers were saying rather than trying to present it solely on these women’s terms.

  16. pinkis123

    As I read the articles for this week, I realized how strong and personal my ideas of motherhood are. While Reading the Voices article, entitled The Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency, I thought (obviously) a lot about what it would be like to a an adolescent mother. However, coming from a stable and affluent environment, I would never have the common ttendencies linked with adolescent parenting, such as poverty and welfare dependance. It makes me sad to read about the struggles for these young women in need of help with their children, and it is hard for me to relate to that. These mothers are very young, sometimes as young as 14, and with several children and parents who are unable to help, it is exhaussting and nearly impossible to raise a family. I had never heard of the SIL program before, and it seems to be a helpful and substatial program, however; with all of the help this program offers in teaching about “education, employment, parenting, and self suffiency,” I do not understand why the mothers still complain about their own needs and desires being compromised, such as not providing day care? This is mind boggling, as so much help is being offered to get the mothers on their feet, yet they are still concerned about themselves. All in all, they are the ones who had the children, even if they are young and poor and are not equipped for it, they still became mothers and they still need to take some responsibility, such as compromising their own needs. That is my take on these women.

  17. Smile

    The statement that came to mind while reading “Valuation of Motherhood” was “ Motherhood both constraints and empowers women” This statement really got me thinking about what motherhood and womanhood really meant and the views that are associated with it. Motherhood empowers woman in a way where they are the keepers of the household. They provide nourishment and safety to their children. The role of a mother is like no other and in varied cultures the mother is the rock of the family. However motherhood could also constraint women to the point where they are perceived as inferior because they might be viewed to not have the ability to do anything else outside the household there for minimizing their abilities to be or do anything else. As for womanhood, this view could be looked at in a as tool for empowering women to step outside the motherhood role and take on different roles outside of the household and in turn gaining equality, however this view seems too belittles the idea of motherhood. As the articles states these two concepts cannot coincide with one another. Motherhood, as stated in the reading, is viewed to be natural and in the case of lesbians who want be mother, it is done through artificial or donor insemination which is very unnatural. Lesbian motherhood disrupts the patriarchal and heterosexual social order therefore perceptions of lesbian mothers has had a very negative connotation. I found this reading to be interesting because of the way that lesbian mothers are viewed and their approaches for raising their children. It also makes you look at the negative perception given to lesbians and how they deal with all of it. Why do people view heterosexual women and lesbians differently? Why would it be harder for a lesbian to raise their child than heterosexual women?

  18. Woo

    I found “The Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency” article to be rather interesting. I found it particularly interesting that resiliency was chosen as the choice of study. I strongly agree with Silver that we must “move beyond pathologizing frameworks” because the issues around teen pregnancy extend far beyond what one considers the issues. These issues include social determinants of health such as poverty, violence, race, class, etc. I understand that resiliency was chosen in order to look at the issues in a more holistic anthropological manner however I question why resiliency in particular was chosen. I think that discussion of what other words could have been chosen in place of resiliency would be a good a idea because this was not the word that came to my mind when I considered Silver’s research and would believe it is important to understand how choosing to look at resiliency as opposed to another term shaped the research.

    I found what she presented especially depressing although not unexpected. Silver appeared to criticize the split between public and private and I question this because she does not provide examples. At first thought I would have figured that including private agencies would help to stabilize the already public infrastructure, I would like to know more about what Silver is referencing here.

    Overall I believe Silver is right on the dot about fact that we support to “only a limited level of development and not beyond.” This is problematic and there is a desperate need for “step-down programs.” I found this article most effective as a critique for the system that we presently have.

    As we debate healthcare reform today I think this article addresses certain issues which must be addressed. When preventative health is spoken of it is seen as an individual issue when in reality it is interwoven into society and the larger social causes are not addressed. Everything is not about individual responsibility. Individual responsibility doesn’t address the issue. Question such as “Why did these habits arise?” must be asked. There is considerable data that suggests that teenage mothers are more likely to stay in poverty, rely on government assistance, lack higher education, etc. than teens from similar backgrounds. This cyclical effect is often criticized as a reason to limit government assistance however this argument is a fallacy in many ways.

  19. lolo

    When reading The Paradox of Natural Mothering, there were many themes running through my mind that the author generally addressed. One of them, however, is this concept of “natural” that was discussed to an extent in the idea of biological determinism. What exactly does “natural” mean? Are they implying that the “natural” mothers are simply responding to their biological call? I’m glad that the author mentions an “alternative” mother who is struggling financially as a way to show the important role that class plays in the attempt to be a “natural mother.” I think that the norm that these women reject, which makes them “alternative” is that of middle-class America. These women have the luxury to decide not to work and stay at home with their kids, but they see it in direct opposition to women who “let” nannies raise their children and choose instead to have jobs. Although the author is quick to point out that the “natural mothers” do not think that mothers that don’t share their views are bad and malicious necessarily, but they are described as “ignorant.” This paternalistic perspective assumes that a woman was better educated they would share the beliefs of the “natural mothers.” I think the discussion of choice should be less about biological determinism and more about choice in the reproductive rights framework. Women should be able to choose to have children or not and raise their children how they want to without being judged by “natural” mothers who reject current society even though it is what gives them the privilege that enables their “alternative” ways.

  20. Hot Chocolate

    This week’s articles were focused on motherhood and the different styles of raising children by women from different societies. To me, motherhood means sacrifice and pain from the day a child is born. But this sacrifice and pain unravels a new beginning, exciting experiences and a beautiful feeling in a woman. I believe that one true reward a woman desires during motherhood is making sure her children turn out happy, healthy and well-adjusted. Raising her children right is a shared goal among all mothers. These ideas are brought up in the article “The Paradox of Natural Mothering.” This article talks about the story of five women who all chose to practice natural motherhood. These women decided it would be best to stay home to raise their children, live simplistic lives and be supported by only one income.
    For example, Michelle believes raising healthy children “holds the best promise of making a difference in the world.” She believes that if she does a good job parenting, staying home full-time and being a positive influence on her children then she will have truly made an impact. When her children make peaceful choices, show respect to others and not rely on materialistic things, then will she feel satisfied with fulfilling her duty as a mother. Although this may seem easy to do, for her it was difficult to raise her children the way she wants in a society that did not approve of her natural methods such as refusing to let her baby cry it out or allowing the baby to bottle feeding. She felt isolated and freakish and wondered “if this is a movement, where are my sisters?”
    Sometimes in our society, women look badly upon other women for being “just a housewife.” I believe that women have the opportunity to come together as a strong union and bond with a respect for other women and their choices on how they choose to raise their families instead of stereotyping how strong women should act. Women who do work and take higher positions are similar to housewives. Of course they do not do the same work, but they do a very similar amount. Women who choose to stay at home and raise their children have a long list of motherly duties to tend to as well a wife expectations.
    For example, Grace believes that mothers need to meet their needs, but they do not need to be separated from her kids in order to do so. She does not go anywhere without her children because her first priority is the well being of her family. Wit her husband, she decided on home-schooling the children. Although a very difficult task, she put her children before herself and does what she can to help them succeed.
    I truly admire mothers that are able to sacrifice their time for the well-being of their children. It reminds me of how once my brother and I were born, my mother took time off to stay home and take care of us. She gave us full attention and care to make sure that we were being raised to her standards. After we were at an age that we weren’t as dependent on her, then she returned to the work field. I appreciate everything to this day and I hope to be there for my children as well.

  21. Mufasa

    In this article, “Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency” the author talks about how young teens struggle through their lives in order to make their livings. The author stresses on how the SIL agency helps younger mothers provide for their children financially. But it is still really hard for teen mothers to pursue their careers because they do not have the proper child care support. For example, Makia, a young mother who was accepted into University away from her home was forced to leave her child behind, knowing that her child may not get the care he needs. It built a lot of stress on her and it became hard for her to focus on her schoolwork. The only support Makia had was her case manager who would overlook her child while she was gone to school and she also helped her build her confidence up. Not everyone is as lucky as Makia with the support she received. Basically from my view, supporting young mothers and their children requires a lot of work and understanding because these mothers usually do not have a comfort zone to get the help they need. Most of these teens end up going into poverty or become unfit mothers. It becomes really difficult for teen mothers; it also leads to more crimes in some cases. Usually African American women have higher rates of teen pregnancies because of lack of education or goals for their future. In order to help these young women, there should be an increasing amount of help and support programs for their benefit so there will be less teen pregnancies. This will also make it easier for teen mothers to understand the consequences of early pregnancies. The programs like SIL are really beneficial because they provide help, support, encouragement, and a sense of comfort to teen mothers who have no experience on how to raise children.

  22. Mew

    To me, there seemed to be something very “unnatural” about the women’s natural mothering stories in The Paradox of Natural Mothering. I found it fascinating to think about a Cultural Feminist perspective on stay-at-home mothers compared to the seemingly dominant, Western feminist ideology I have mostly studied. Motherhood can certainly be viewed as an empowering, uniquely female advantage, particularly when a woman is able to choose this role without external social or family pressures. Women’s physical bodies are biologically designed to bear and nurture young children. Yet, the great emphasis the women in the article place on this concept seems to allude to a more negative, biological deterministic view, which may not be necessarily empowering.

    One woman, Angela Cronon, discusses how “a lot of our [her and her husband’s] role-sharing plans just didn’t work out […] I think that there are built in biological realities” (95). If her belief is that the woman/mother is more capable, based on her biology to nurture a child, I can’t help but wonder how this fits outside the context of a heterosexual relationship. In Lewin’s article on The Politics of Lesbian Motherhood, she explains how lesbian mothers “contradict assumptions about the “natural” order of things” (103). In the context of “natural mothering,” how would the “natural” mother role be expressed in a lesbian relationship? If one woman biologically mothers the child, does this mean that she must be the stay-at-home mother, while the other woman must assume a role outside of the home similar to a man? Additionally, if a woman is biologically destined to be the main nurturing presence for a child, then what happens in a male homosexual partnership? This inherent problem with biological notions of “natural mothering” makes me question how much freedom of choice there really is in assuming the motherhood role when it has already been “biologically determined.”

    Since natural mothering seemingly gives the entire nurturing presence to the woman, I find it very frustrating to not see the father’s presence or contributions (despite outside financial contributions). These women seem to be making their children entirely dependent on having them around to care for them constantly, while at the same time the women seem to refuse almost any assistance from their husbands. Carrie Dittmer explains how “there was no way I was going to let anyone else take care of her [child]” (93), even her own husband. By forcing her willing husband to step aside from any childcare role, she seems to create an almost “unnatural” partnership. She sounds like she has a control issue and is so attached to her child that her motherhood role has become obsessive. Many of the other women also express this great obsession with keeping their children under constant watch, keeping them enclosed within their home environment. I agree with Blush’s comment that it seems almost “unnatural” to not let your children be partially independent and allow for social interactions at school or daycare. Human beings are social creatures after all, but these women seem to almost be selfishly stifling and hoarding their children to fulfill what they believe is a selfless, wholesome, and natural act.

  23. TEASE

    Being a young teenage mother comes with many struggles. You might not have a home, a job, an education, or even enough money to feed yourself or your kids. Fortunately, there are programs like the one stated in the article, “Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency”, that help young mothers find what they need to survive. From this article, we can see that although these programs do what they can to meet your needs, the one problem that is becoming a burden to these mothers is child care. Over this past summer, I was able to see this with my own eyes.
    For a couple of months, I volunteered with a program called Horizon’s for Homeless Children, who worked with Y.O.U. Inc to help at-risk children and their mothers fulfill their potential and build a better future. Like the mothers in the article, they lived in an agency-leased apartment in a community where the program’s case manager lived. The case manager helps these families when they are in need and work with the mothers to find jobs and eventually find a home for themselves within a year. My role in this was to babysit their children, ages two and younger, for two hours every week so that the mothers have time to themselves and have a one-on-one with the case manager.
    Being in that environment was very saddening and it made me realize how fortunate I am to have a home and a family that cares. It didn’t occur to me then that it was so difficult to carry two babies’ everyday and every hour when you’re trying to make something out of your life. Everyone says that you can do whatever you want as long as you put your head into it but when you have other priorities, it really isn’t that easy. It was uplifting to see that I can make a difference in these families’ lives by just taking two hours of my time every week to watch their children. I think it is important for all of us to make a difference and volunteer at these agencies.

  24. Phoenix

    I was very surprised after reading the article titled, “The Politics of Regulation: Adolescent Mothers and the Social Context of Resiliency”. The social stereotype that many have for young mothers is that they are irresponsible because they could have prevented their pregnancies by practicing safe sex or did not think about the consequences that lack of a form of birth control would bring. Like the article mentioned, many tended to “blame the victim”. But for those young women who were actually trying to excel further for themselves and to create/provide a better life for their children, I gained a newfound respect for them after reading this article. Before reading this article I was completely unaware of organizations such as the Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program and the Children and Youth Services (CYS). Although I think it’s wonderful that such programs exist to aid young mothers in transitioning from the child welfare system to adulthood, I believe its contradictory to mandate that these young women are expected to fulfill so many requirements but are not offered programs that will help them succeed, such as having to attend some form of higher education but are not offered daycare services, so they are stressed out about leaving their child with another person which hinders them from concentrating in class and sometimes results in having them drop-out of their education program. Why would you offer someone the possibility of getting daycare when they are guaranteed to be denied?

    However, I’m not surprised that this is a problem within that system. This is a problem within many other unrelated areas and occurs all over the United States as well. For example, this summer I had an internship with the Community Abortion Information and Resource Project (CAIR) Project of Seattle, WA this summer. I spent 10 weeks as an advocate on their Hotline providing financial assistance or resource information to women who were seeking an abortion. One of the questions that I had to ask a woman was whether or not she was eligible for medicaid based on her income because some of the states would be able to pay for part if not all of her abortion service if she was eligible. However, there were many cases where women were not eligible for medicaid when they SHOULD have been based on their income alone because they were only making $1000-$1500/month, but then based on their partner’s income who was NOT supporting them, they were considered ineligible for medicaid. This is another example where services are created with the intention to help people who need it, but then they contradict themselves when they make people jump through hoops and go above and beyond to obtain it.

  25. sashi29

    From the article, From the Outside Looking in: The Politics of Lesbian Mothering, Lewin argues, “the notion that women’s social experiences can be understood best through the examination of motherhood is rarely challenged. These varied approaches all rest on unspoken assumptions about the meaning of motherhood in women’s lives, as well as about its naturalness.” The assumption that women are valued as breeders has been a common theme throughout the readings all semester. It also strikes me that when the author refers to ‘naturalness’ that she is referring the assumptions that these are “heterosexually organized households and families.” This has particular meaning because it speaks to the question what is natural? If women are meant to derive meaning in their lives from motherhood but what kind of motherhood is perpetuated and acceptable? Surely something so natural as the biological act of pregnancy and giving birth no matter how the sperm reaches the egg is acceptable?
    This isn’t the case however, the author points out that “lesbianism is associated with violations of the natural order,” and that “lesbian sexuality is transgressive both because it seems to make lesbians independent of men and because it is, by definition, non procreative.”
    To add to this discussion, I would like to pull insight from Phillis Chesler, author of Ms. Magazine’s Motherhood issue in 1987, where she argues that motherhood is a “fact” an ontologically different category than fatherhood,” which is an “idea.” So mothers are inarguably mothers and that is a fact. You cannot disagree with biology. Thomas Lacquer’s article, The Facts of Fatherhood, rejects this view stating that “it assumes that being a factual parent entails a stronger connection to the child than being an “ideational” parent.” The “facts” of such socially powerful and significant categories as mother and father come into being only as culture imbues things, actions, and flesh with meaning.” “Facts” like bearing a child would obviously be significant evidence but would not be unimpeachable, would not be nature speaking unproblematically to culture. I wonder how lesbian mothers fit into this fact/idea dichotomy? So is lesbian motherhood natural? Is there room for it? It is undervalued by the notions of prejudice and claims to legitimacy and leaves the question open, can society make room for mothers whose sexuality does not lead directly to procreation?
    Can motherhood/fatherhood be natural for all women/men, if they so desire? Can culture shift to make room for families of all sexual orientations to be recognized in equal ways with equal value?

  26. Love

    I really just want to respond to this one specific article, because it really made me see things in a different light. I never understood the whole big deal and controversy behind lesbian mothers. I understood why it could be controversial, but not really. I understand it is not what people are used to, therefore not the “norm”, but I did not get what was so wrong about it. I grew up hearing that the child would not have a father figure in their life and therefore the kids would be biased, or the male children would be more feminine or they wouldn’t learn everything. Other times I heard that the children of a lesbian or gay couple would turn out lesbian or gay and not have a choice. There were many things that I heard. I personally just always thought that if both parents love you, everything else will fall into place.

    After having read this article, it really talks about lesbianism as a selfish act, which when I read it, I didn’t understand until it further broke it down. It mentions that women are known to be the child bearers, which I understand, therefore women are expected to take the role on as a mother. In addition to this though, they are EXPECTED to procreate and procreation only happens when a male and female are together (although even with that, many times there are complications and that does not work out). If it is a male and a female procreating, partaking in sexual activities is understood, because there is a final outcome to it all, which is procreation. But, here it shows why people argue on this topic. If two women or two men take part in sexual activity with one another, they can not get pregnant, therefore the act is selfish, because they just want to fulfill their hormones and if they want a child, they can always adopt or one of the women can get pregnant, etc.

    This to me sounds almost like a religious belief and whoever else uses this as the excuse that lesbian mothers should not be mothers, seems to be using the same excuse, even if they are not religious. I just cannot grasp why people have to worry about others. There are many relationships in which men and women procreate and the mother is not around or the father is not around, but that relationship is still more accepted than potentially two women as parents or two men as parents, even if both of them are always around. Everyone just has to have some kind of excuse to look down upon other people, when they are not happy with their own lives and their own relationships.

    It should not matter to everyone else what other people choose to do. If two women want to have a child, great! If they don’t, great! Same thing with men! If a man and woman want to have a child, great! No one every complains about them and their relationship. I truly believe that as long as you grow up in a family with love, that is all that matters. I genuinely believe that. I don’t believe that if your parents are lesbian or gay that your children will be gay or lesbian, they can be, but it does not mean that they will and research has shown this as well. It’s really depressing how people need to find reasons to attack other people, to find ‘flaws’ in others, that are not actually really flaws, so that they can feel better about themselves.

    When it comes to religious beliefs, again, like anyone else, everyone is entitled to their beliefs and as much as they believe them , it does not mean that everyone else believes them, that is why there are different religions. Religion also always teaches acceptance of others, but for some reason, this part seems to be constantly forgotten, but then where are the critics for them?

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