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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 25, 2009

Gender, Diversity, and Difference

Naomi Zack
Pages 17-30

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.”

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