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

By Andrea O'Reilly | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Andrea O'Reilly

“Few subjects so provoke anxiety among feminists, ” Robin Morgan writes, “as the four-letter word sons” (38). “We've thought and talked about, written and read about, mothers and daughters, ” Morgan continues, “but with a few notable exceptions we've averted our eyes from The Other Touchy Subject. Yet that subject goes to the heart of practicing what we claim to believe, that 'the personal is political.' It goes to the crux of power and of patriarchy-even though it also grazes the living nerves of love” (38).

In September 1997 the Centre for Feminist Research at York University hosted an international conference entitled “Mothers and Daughters: Moving into the Next Millennium” attended by more than one hundred and fifty speakers from around the world. Throughout the weekend, as participants probed the myriad and complex issues that mothers and daughters face at the start of a new millennium, we also, over coffee and at dinner, began to talk about our sons. The women, those who were mothers of sons and others who were concerned about boys today, began to ask, at first with some hesitation and then with increasing urgency, whether we, in our academic and personal interest in the mother-daughter relation, had in some fundamental way wronged our sons, let them down or simply forgotten them. Had we, in our negligence or disinterest, academic and otherwise, given our sons up to patriarchy, done to them what we have spent our lives fighting against for ourselves and for our daughters. Has feminism, as Babette Smith argues in Mothers and Sons, “failed the mothers of sons?” (ix). Whether feminism has failed sons or not, it has, as Nancy Backes suggests in

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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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