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

By Andrea O'Reilly | Go to book overview

reviewed evidence that suggests the potential benefits of encouraging more men to share in this endeavor. As we start to see signs that increasing numbers of men are choosing to become more actively involved in their children's daily lives-and with positive consequences-we can begin to hope that the tide may at last be starting to turn in our favor, and that as feminist mothers we will no longer have to swim against it.


NOTES
1.
In this chapter I am confining myself to discussing the gender socialization of boys in modern industrialized societies, since it is there primarily-in societies such as those of North America, Western Europe, and Australia-that twentieth-century changes in gender roles have led to the problematizing of masculinity in the last quarter century.
2.
Silverstein and Rashbaum (22) cite various other such books, including Their Mothers' Sons by Edward Strecker and David Levy's ominously titled Maternal Overprotection, both first published in 1943 and sufficiently popular to warrant reissue in the 1950s.
3.
Farber (1962), for example, noted that mothers often referred to the values and expectations of the father in dealing with their children in his absence (e.g. “What would Daddy think/say?”), and by these means contrived to present him as a role model for their children.
4.
According to Ryan, “Masculinity, then, can be viewed as a defensive construction, developed . . . out of a need to emphasise a difference, a separateness from the mother. In the extreme this is manifested by machismo behavior with its emphasis on competitiveness, strength, aggressiveness, contempt for women and emotional shallowness, all serving to keep the male secure in his separate identity” (Ryan, 26).
5.
For a detailed historical account of the ways in which parental roles have been influenced by social and economic changes, see Demos (1982), and Pleck (1987).
6.
See, for example, Charlie Lewis and Margaret O'Brien (1987), and Lynne Segal (1990).
7.
No claims are made for the representativeness of this sample: our purpose in conducting this research was simply to explore some of the issues that had been faced by these self-identified feminist mothers in their efforts to bring their sons up to resist traditional forms of masculinity. While some of the concerns of these mothers may not apply to others, it is evident that many of the problems they reported facing are common to all parents as they contemplate their son's future in a changing world.
8.
Thirteen of these individual accounts were published in the special feature on mothering sons, “Mothering Sons: A Crucial Feminist Challenge, ” in

-137-

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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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