This blog post of mine has been inspired by a similar one written by bluemilk called ‘Break-the-isolation-join-the-list’ and my experience of speaking at the recent MIRCI (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement) conference in Toronto.
I am quite used to speaking in public but when I got up to speak at MIRCI I was nervous as anything because I felt as if I was about to reveal a stream of inner consciousness and thought. In my normal day to day life I don’t get the opportunity to discuss the ideologies and practical experiences of being a feminist mother.
Mothering in the public sphere seems to be about discussing a list of things ‘to do’ with one’s child. Mothering in the private domestic setting is about ‘doing things’ with one’s children. The deficit lies in discussing how a mother’s personal experiences of feminism can shape a child’s cognitivie, psychological and emotional development.
I am on a mission to rectify the situation and will be speaking at Occupy St.Paul’s, London, UK on November 12 at 11am on Feminist Mothering. Specifically, I am hoping to start a UK Mother Outlaws group (originated by MIRCI) and am hoping that enough interest will be generated at Occupy St.Paul’s to get the ball rolling.
Mothering a mixed race child (Asian + White) is a journey of self-discovery for me as much as it is for my 12 year old daughter. When I first became a mother I imagined that mothering was more a practical act than a cerebral one.
Granted, in the initial stages mothering does consist of changing nappies, burping etc but I underestimated the politics of race and how it would take hold so early on. At mother-baby get togethers mothers would congregate along race lines based on their own race. There were no huddled groups for mothers of mixed race babies.
Did it matter? I didn’t think so then because I just joined the group with friendly faces. However, as time has gone on I do realise that race has an important dimension in mothering. Asian mothers now consist a large minority group globally and what precedes us is a racial stereotype of Asian mothers i.e docile and only interested in the domestic sphere.
Stereotypes often have a factual basis and while the picture I paint is still true of many Asian mothers there is a force emerging which wants to challenge the patriarchal notions of motherhood. These mothers realise that the straitjacket of gender inequality within the home has devastating consequences for their daughter i.e domestic violence, patriarchal bullying, and want to fight back. The family structure must not be used to reinforce daughters as second class citizens.
Is society broken? I pondered on this question today when I helped a man who was using a zimmer frame. His shoe lace was undone and I was afraid that he would trip himself up. I asked him if he wanted me to tie the lace and he did. We were in a supermarket and people had to walk around us in the aisle. Some found this inconvenient and made it known.
If society cannot stop for a minute or two to make allowances for those who need a bit more time to get through life then, frankly, something is wrong. The inability to incorporate the differences in the physical or mental conditions of those who live in our midst is a failing of modern society. This failing stems partly from the false economy of placing paramount importance on beauty and body size and holding it up as the benchmark for bodily perfection.
However, the main failing of society is down to plain discriminatory attitudes. There’s no beating about the bush with this.
There is no straitjacket of identity for what an ambitious mother looks like. We come in all shapes, sizes, colours, nationalities, race and cultures. Wanting the best for our children is the unifying thread. I am not just talking about educational attainment though I consider it to be extremely important.
Ambition pervades every part of mothering. We want our children to have social skills, good manners, morals, virtues, a good circle of friends and the list goes on. Is this you?
I am looking to create an online community of ambitious mothers who are willing to share experiences, philosophies and advice. Do tell me who you are and I will list your blog on my blogroll. The reason I am doing this is because I cannot find mothers who are willing to add the word ‘ambitious’ to their mothering. The stigma in a patriarchal society of being an ambitious woman seems to have extended its negative self into mothering too.
Shake the shackles off and leave a comment.
There is no doubt that something or lots of things are needed to facilitate the entry of disabled person into the workplace. This is because having a disability does not rob a person of having aspiration, aims and the ambition to work for their living. The link between welfare and disability is not a universal application to all persons with disabilities.
The Chief Executive of Radar, a charity for disabled persons, Liz Sayce says that at the current rate of progress it would take until 2070 for the employment rate for disabled people to catch up with the rate for non-disabled people. About 53% of disabled people are unemployed or working below their potential. So what is needed to speed up the process of employment?
Liz Sayce says that individualised support, mentoring and role models are key to success. I notice that debates about equality and fair access revolve around the concept of poverty which involves an assumption that everybody is non-disabled. A change in such assumptions is needed before progress can be made.