Volume 25, 2009
Gender, Diversity, and Difference
No More Mothers?
How Attenuating Factors Are Changing the Identity
The role of motherhood was attenuated over the second half of the twentieth century, by literal and metaphorical factors: Privileged women gained control over their reproduction and developed non-mothering life priorities; government and society became less nurturing in public ideals; projects of spontaneous speciation began in biology; the environment became unsustaining. In addition, feminist criticism resulted in greater individuation between the persons of mothers and their children. With these changes, the role of motherhood lacks a positive identity, culturally and psychically. Extending a literary character, I suggest that mothers consider an attenuated internal identity, based on their unique biological relationships to their children. This would afford a more positive self-identity, as well as a pragmatic solution to demands made by present “middleman” roles for mothers to procure expert child enculturation care, in addition to their “second shifts.”