‘Hip Mama’ joins panel at mothering conference

I’ll tell you where I came from: northern California…. The second illegitimate daughter of intuition and paranoia…. Tide pool hermit crab, fierce and private. Vulnerable belly…. Destined for lifelong homelessness, squatting, outgrowing shells, searching for new ones….

From Atlas of the Human Heart

Ariel Gore, the author of Atlas of the Human Heart, has made a career out of being a different sort of mother but not by design; it’s just, apparently, who she is. As one interviewer put it, Gore is “an avatar of the practical, down-and-dirty mothering style that eschews designer strollers and embraces bringing the baby along to political demonstrations.”

ariel goreHer publishers call her “a leading voice of today’s politically and culturally aware parents – even debating Newt Gingrich on MTV” and “the resource of choice for thousands of mamas of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, single and partnered.”

Left: Ariel Gore

Editor of Hip Mama magazine and Web site, Gore has written several books on mothering and brings her bold perspective to York next month for the eighth conference on Mothering and Feminism organized by the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM).

The three-day conference, being held Oct. 22-24, will feature more than 150 researchers and authors from Austria, France, Israel, New Zealand, Taiwan the United Kingdom, Canada and the US to present papers on topics as diverse as “Judging Mothers”, “Dangerous Mothers”, “What Mothers Don’t Say out Loud”, and the “Mama Zine Revolution”.

andrea o'reilly“There is this assumption in popular culture and in our society that feminism and motherhood are appositional terms or identities; ‘if you are mom, you can’t be a feminist and feminists certainly aren’t mothers.’ Nothing can be further from the truth,” said Andrea O’Reilly, professor of women’s studies at York, director of the Centre for Research on Mothering and founding president of ARM.

Right: Andrea O’Reilly, ARM president

“This conference will explore the many ways that feminism has influenced and enriched women’s experiences of motherhood,” O’Reilly said. “It will examine the positive effect that motherhood has on a woman’s feminist beliefs and practices. It is my hope that we can finally put aside this ‘mommy war’ – feminists versus mothers – and begin thinking about how the feminism movement can serve and support mothers and how in turn mothers can contribute to the feminist movement.”

There will be two panel discussions during the weekend. The first will focus on challenges women face when ideals of motherhood clash with reality. The second looks at possibilities for rethinking those norms. Gore will be one of the guest speakers on the first panel, which also features historian Katherine Arnup of Carleton University, who has published extensively on the history of motherhood and the family in Canada, Sharon Hayes, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and Carol Duncan, professor of cultural and women’s studies at Laurier University.

The second panel includes Patrice Diquinzo, director of women’s studies at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Chris Bobel, professor of women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts, Andrea Buchanan, author of Mother Shockand managing editor of LiteraryMama.com, an online literary magazine for the maternally inclined, and O’Reilly.

Registration for the conference, due by Sept. 30, is $250 for ARM members or $325 for non-members. Student members of ARM can register for $125 or $160 for non-members. The full conference agenda and information on ARM are available on the Centre for Research on Mothering Web site.

ARM releases anniversary essay collection

mothers matter coverARM has just published Mother Matters, a collection of essays that appeared in the association’s journal over the past 10 years. Edited by O’Reilly, the book “examines how the messy and muddled realities of motherhood are camouflaged…by the normative discourse of motherhood.”

Patrice DiQuinzo, a panelist at this year’s conference, calls Mother Matters “an excellent collection that illustrates both the variety of exciting approaches to contemporary feminist scholars are bringing to the study of motherhood, and the very complex relationship of ideology and women’s experiences of motherhood.”

At York, O’Reilly teaches a course on motherhood (the first in Canada, now taught to more than 200 students a year as a distance education course) and an introductory course on women’s studies.

She has presented her research at numerous international conferences and is the author of more than two dozen articles and chapters. She is editor or co-editor of seven books on motherhood, is currently at work on three edited books: Feminist Mothering, Motherhood: Power and Oppression and Women’s Voices Across the Third Wave and is writing Reconceiving Maternity.

The Association for Research on Mothering is the first feminist association on the topic of mothering and motherhood with more than 500 members worldwide. O’Reily and her common-law spouse of 21 years are the parents of a 19-year old son and two daughters, 14 and 17.