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Transcript of Social Reproduction
October 17, 2016
Cult of true womanhood/domesticity
Cult of Domesticity
White Women's Challenge to Motherhood
Compulsory Motherhood should be outlawed
"Women can be mothers so long as they are not only mothers"
Assumptions about Motherhood that are problematic for Ethnic Minorities
Motherhood only occurs in a private, nuclear household
Strict sex-role segregation - separate male and female spheres of influence
Linking of motherhood and economic dependency - "motherhood as an occupation"
Lack of attention to the question of power - in relationship to race and class
Women Centered Networks
1. What are different types of kinship (familial) networks?
2. How do "women centered networks" complicate how we understand "motherhood as an institution"?
Think about the three assumptions about motherhood that do not work for ethnic minorities.
Reclaiming Motherhood and Problems with White Feminist Critiques of Motherhood
Why re-claim motherhood?
Euro-centric views of Black and Native Motherhood
"Mammies" and Matriarchs
Appropriation of Indigenous traditions, rituals, and philosophies
Motherwork - ensures individual and collective survival
Public/Private sphere not split
Social reproduction - viewed as powerful and political
White feminist struggle for reproductive autonomy tied to Eugenics Movement
This highly impacted women of various ethnic backgrounds and "abilities"
The right to have children (to be a mother) was effectively denied through forced sterilization.
Between 1820 and the Civil War, the growth of new industries, businesses, and professions helped to create in America a new middle class. This shifted the middle class family in three ways:
1. A nineteenth‐century middle‐class family did not have to make what it needed in order to survive. Men could work in jobs that produced goods or services while their wives and children stayed at home.
2. When husbands went off to work, they helped create the view that men alone should support the family. This belief held that the world of work, the public sphere, was a rough world, where a man did what he had to in order to succeed, A womanʹs place was therefore in the private sphere, in the home, where she took charge of all that went on.
3. The middle‐class family came to look at itself, and at the nuclear family in general, as the backbone of society. A new ideal of womanhood and a new ideology about the home arose out of the new attitudes about work and family, called the "cult of domesticity".
Cult of True Womanhood
This Ideal of Womanhood had four parts:
1. Piety: The modern young woman of the 1820s and 1830s was thought of as a new Eve working with God to bring the world out of sin through her suffering, through her pure, and passionless love. Religion was thought to be a good thing in women, a salve for a potentially restless mind, an occupation which could be undertaken within woman's proper sphere, the home.
2. Purity: Female purity was viewed as a weapon, to be used by good women to keep men in control of their sexual needs and desires, all for their own good. A woman's only power was seen as coming through her careful use of sexual virtue.
3. Submissiveness: Women were to be passive bystanders, submitting to fate, to duty, to God, and to men. female submissiveness and passivity were assured for the nineteenth century woman by the clothing she was required to wear. Tight corset lacing closed off her lungs and pinched her inner organs together. Large numbers of under garments and the weight of over dresses limited her physical mobility.
4. Domesticity: Woman's place was in the home. Woman's role was to be busy at those morally uplifting tasks aimed at maintaining and fulfilling her piety and purity. Housework was deemed an uplifting task.
Challenges to Motherhood
Question: Do these ideals of womanhood remain today? If so, give a few examples.
Question: Describe what you think is the function of the family in contemporary American society?