4 | Q&A: Who is a “mother” anyway? 🫐
My first response to a subscriber question! We’re thinking through: Who’s included? Who do we see excluded? Why? How does this affect peoples’ matrescence experiences?
CW: Miscarriage - Take good care and skip if needed.
But what then is 'the maternal'? Is it a physical thing? Is it the ability of some bodies to carry life and give birth? Is it a concept connecting various notions to each other? Is it a metaphor for something else? For me the maternal includes all of these, but perhaps most of all it functions as a system of seeing, thinking and relating to the world. A system which completely breaks away from the binaries of the feminine/masculine oppositions through the maternal body's pivotal role to natality and otherness. -Deirdre M. Donoghue, June 20131
In early 2017 I experienced a miscarriage. I felt myself more a motherer following that experience. However, while organizing mothers around environmental activism that spring I used the phrase “mothering our community” and received some pushback. I was not, apparently, allowed to claim “mother” if I was not mothering in a normative way.
Who is a “mother” in eco/feminism?
In feminist writing on motherhood, mothering has long been seen as fluid. Definitions emphasize mothering as an activity beyond biological or gendered constructions. For instance: