Magazine article Herizons

MATRICENTRIC FEMINISM: Theory, Activism, and Practice

Magazine article Herizons

MATRICENTRIC FEMINISM: Theory, Activism, and Practice

Article excerpt


Theory, Activism, and Practice


Demeter Press

A pregnant acquaintance of mine recently posted on Facebook that feminism devalues mothers. I tried to convince her otherwise. Andrea O'Reilly's new book supports both views and provides the problem and the solution.

The founder of Demeter Press and a leading writer in motherhood studies, O'Reilly is indeed the mother of the field. Matricentric Feminism demonstrates that, as O'Reilly states, "motherhood ... is the unfinished business of feminism." As she analyzes questions of theory, activism, and practice, O'Reilly argues that women who are mothers are doubly oppressed. This explains her belief in a "matricentric," or mother-focused, feminism.

O'Reilly's section on "Maternal Theory" provides a crash course on the topic. Beginning with Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born (1976), which distinguished between "motherhood" as patriarchal institution and "mothering" as a potentially empowering relationship, O'Reilly covers key theoretical concepts, including matraphobia, maternal thinking, other mothering and queer mothering. The book includes an extensive bibliography.

O'Reilly's last chapter, on academic feminism, demonstrates how necessary this information is. One subtitle says it all: "The Disappearance of Motherhood in Twenty-First-Century Academic Feminism. …

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