Monday, June 19, 2006

NWSA & Empowered Mothering


What a wonderful conference the National Women's Studies Association held this past weekend! There were ten different feminist mothering sessions and an amazing plenary session on feminist mothering/empowered mothering given by York University professor Andrea O'Reilly (pictured on the right). O'Reilly has a new book out, entitled Rocking the Cradle. After her talk, I immediately went to her organizations booth to purchase her book. Although I am only two chapters into her book, she offers insight on feminist mothering I have never read anywhere else. I couldn't recommend her book more.

While so many things stood out for me at this conference, two will definitely be with me for some time. First, Judith Stadtman Tucker of the Mothers Movement Online have a talk in which she outlined many of the aims of the emerging mothers movement. I particularly liked what she said about many women of my generation (late twenties, early thirties) are joining the mothers movement because we were so shocked to see a lack of support for mothers once we had children. Once we embarked upon our own motherhood journey, we realized what little support there is for mothers in the workplace or in our society in general.

The second most memorable moment for me came from Andrea O'Reilly, of course. At the end of her talk, she said that we can learn a great deal about feminist mothering by listening to the instructions given on a plane before it takes off. The flight attendants give everyone federally mandated instructions in case there is a crash. When the oxygen masks come down, they say, be sure to secure your own mask before securing those of your child. This makes sense because you cannot take care of your child unless you are getting a decent amount of oxygen. O'Reilly said the same can be said for motherhood. Mothers need to take care of themselves before they can take care of their children. If they do, there children will be much better off. What a wonderful real world example to explain the benefits of feminist mothering!!

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