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Born to do it? The social construction of motherhood

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Dominant ideologies of motherhood have limited the choices many women have made about when, if, or how they become mothers. Adrienne Rich describes this as the "institution" of motherhood. This thesis explores the question of how twenty-first century mothers feel constrained or empowered by current mothering ideologies. Interviews were conducted with eight Greater Vancouver mothers representing a variety of racial, socio-economic, and marital backgrounds. Some mothers stated that at times they feel pressured to measure up to an idealized standard of motherhood; others believed that decisions they make in relation to mothering are mostly influenced by their own free-will and resourcefulness. Motherhood in the twenty-first century is as diverse as individual mothers themselves. Andrea O'Reilly's nuanced theoretical understanding of resistance helps us to see how women redefine what motherhood means to them and how to legitimize diverse ways of mothering.
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