Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

This Hand Rocks the Cultural Cradle

Andrea O'Reilly and her daughters
Erin and Casey Oreilly-Conlin at the first slut walk 
in toronto, april 2011.
Do you recognize this feminist mother?

A few years ago, while working on a book about motherhood, I discovered Andrea O'Reilly and the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement. It actually blew my mind. Did YOU know that there is an organization out there studying mothering? The breadth, scope, creativity, originality, compassion and innovation of O'Reilly's work and vision amazes and inspire me. In addition to being an Associate Professor in the School of Women's Studies at York University, she founded the Motherhood Initiative, is herself the editor or co-editor of 14 books, the author of Rocking the Cradle, not to mention the mother of three. I encourage you to spend some time looking at the Initiative's site. Their sister organization Demeter Press is continuously putting out fascinating material, and I truly can't do justice to O'Reilly's achievements here.

All of O'Reilly's work and effort focuses on empowering mothers. This problem I keep coming up against, that the words feminist and mother can't go together, she has worked to fix in scholarly, public, community and academic ways. She even created a course on Motherhood.

Since I became a mother it has been one of my favorite gripes that the role of mother, the work of mothers, the name of mothers, the worries and concerns of mothers, the effort of mothers, the contribution of mothers and the vocation/calling/gift of mothering are all dismissed. It's not simply that they aren't taken seriously, they aren't taken into account at all. Many of the mothers I know personally feel that the LEAST important thing they do is mother. This is a cultural mistake and it makes my heart glad to know that O'Reilly and others are working to correct this perception with the empowering stance of feminism--which, just to remind you, simply means a belief in the equality of the sexes.

In my novels, I have tried to affirm and celebrate motherhood as well as to offer a investigation of the profound, personal, and familial issues that arise with mothering--but in the context of plot and humor and wit and sass. Mothering is deep but it is also very funny--and writing about the truth of a woman's or a mother's experience with levity and laughs in a way that legitimizes the work of the mother is what I have hoped to achieve.

I still want to see what your feminist mothering looks like. Send me a picture for a chance to win both of my novels. And tell me what happens when you start to talk to friends about this issue. Is feminism the "F" word among good mothers?

No comments:

Post a Comment