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  • Writer's pictureEloina Haines


An interrogation of what it 'means' to be 'mother'.

Ross, Ellen, 'Love and toil: motherhood in outcast London, 1870-1918' (New York : Oxford University Press, 1993) <> [accessed 08/02/2018]

Conceptions of motherhood are at the center of acrimonious public controversies raging today around such issues as abortion, surrogate motherhood, child custody, maternity and paternity leave, foster care, and the rights of divorced fathers. These disputes are seldom openly acknowledged as debates over the imperatives of proper mothering; everyone "knows" what a mother is. As a practical achievement for a woman, a job in the material world, a set of relationships, motherhood continues to be hidden behind veils of desire and fantasy. What is needed to penetrate these veils is public recognition and a discussion of motherhood as a varying series of specific practices (carried out today by women, men, biological and fictive parents, heterosexuals and homosexuals, couples and single people) that are both demanding and socially important.

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