Mothers & Sons: Feminism, Masculinity, and the Struggle to Raise Our Sons

By Andrea O'Reilly | Go to book overview

NOTES
1.
The disparagement and erasure of the mother which these texts enact may also, as many feminist theorists have argued, be interpreted psychoanalytically as bespeaking both male fear of maternal power and the need to deny and repress the feminine in order to construct a masculine identity. Nancy Chodorow in The Reproduction of Mothering argues that the father's absence from the home in the sons' early years necessitates the son defining his masculinity by negation; that which his mother is, he is not. As well, for the infant son, the powers of the mother appear limitless. Our individual flesh-and-blood mother is also identified archetypally with the primordial Great Mother, who held very real life-and-death powers over mortal men. In our individual and collective unconsciousness we remember that time when we lived under the mother's power in the pre-Oedipal and prepatriarchal world. Dorothy Dinnerstein in The Mermaid and the Minotaur maintains that fear and hatred of women and mothers in particular originate from the infant's experiences of dependency and helplessness, which in turn come to structure adult consciousness.
2.
Mothers and Sons, though written by the Australian writer Babette Smith, advances an Anglo-American view on feminism in general and the mother-son relation in particular.
3.
For a detailed discussion of sensitive mothering, please see my article, “'Ain't That Love?': Antiracism and Racial Constructions of Motherhood” in Everyday Acts Against Racism, ed. Maureen Reddy (Seattle: Seal Press, 1996), 88-98.
4.
This is examined at length in my two recent articles on Anglo-American feminist theory and the mother-daughter relation: “Across the Divide: Contemporary Anglo-American Feminist Theory on the Mother-Daughter Relationship” in Redefining Motherhood: Changing Identities and Patterns, ed. Sharon Abbey and Andrea O'Reilly (Toronto: Second Story Press, 1998), 69-91; and “Mothers, Daughters and Feminism Today: Empowerment, Agency, Narrative, ” in Canadian Women's Studies 18:2 & 3 (Summer/Fall 1998), 16-21. See also the introduction to Mothers and Daughters: Connection, Empowerment, Transformation, ed. Andrea O'Reilly and Sharon Abbey (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).
5.
African-American motherhood has been examined in recent African-American feminist theory. See in particular Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Unwin Hyman/Routledge, 1990); “The Meaning of Motherhood in Black Culture and Black Mother-Daughter Relationships” in Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, ed. Patricia Bell-Scott and Beverly Guy-Sheftall (New York: HarperPerennial, 1993), 42-60; “Shifting the Center: Race, Class, and Feminist Theorizing about Motherhood” in Mothering: Ideology, Experience, and Agency, ed. Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Grace Chang, and Linda

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Mothers & Sons: Feminism, Masculinity, and the Struggle to Raise Our Sons
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 19
  • Works Cited 20
  • I - Mothering and Motherhood 23
  • 1 - Who Are We This Time? 25
  • 2 - Mothering Sons with Special Needs 42
  • Works Cited 55
  • 3 - Masculinity, Matriarchy, and Myth a Black Feminist Perspective 56
  • Works Cited 69
  • 4 - Mothers, Sons, and the Art of Peacebuilding 71
  • Works Cited 88
  • 5 - In Black and White Anglo-American and African-American Perspectives on Mothers and Sons 91
  • Notes 116
  • Works Cited 117
  • II - Men and Masculinities 119
  • 6 - Swimming Against the Tide Feminists' Accounts of Mothering Sons 121
  • Notes 137
  • 7 - Feminist Academic Mothers' Influences on Their Sons' Masculinity 141
  • Works Cited 155
  • 8 - Lesbians Raising Sons Bringing Up a New Breed of Men 157
  • 9 - Can Boys Grow into Mothers? Maternal Thinking and Fathers' Reflections 163
  • III - Mothers and Sons: Connections and Disconnections 183
  • 10 - Raising Relational Boys 185
  • Notes 215
  • 11 - Attachment and Loss 217
  • Works Cited 233
  • 12 - Mother-Son Relationships in the Shadow of War 235
  • Notes 249
  • Works Cited 250
  • 13 - This is Leave-Taking Mothers, Signatures, and Countermemory 251
  • Notes 263
  • List of Contributors 265
  • Index 271
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