Andrea O’Reilly publishes new book on feminist mothering

Women’s studies Prof. Andrea O’Reilly continues to explore feminist mothering in her latest book, Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering.

Rocking the Cradle is the first book published by the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) under its new publishing division, Demeter Press. O’Reilly is director of York’s Centre for Research on Mothering, home of ARM. She is the author of Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart (2004) and editor of eight books on mothering, including Mother Outlaws: Theories and Practices of Empowered Mothering (2004).

Rocking the Cradle consists of 12 essays in which O’Reilly explores such questions as how do we challenge patriarchal motherhood and create feminist mothering. Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace and co-editor of Mother Troubles: Rethinking Contemporary Maternal Dilemmas, has written the preface. And the 220-page book features chapters on the Semiotics of Birthing; Mothering in the Academe; Antiracism and Racial Constructions of Motherhood; African American Womanist Thought on Mothering; A Politics of the Heart: Toni Morrison’s Theory of Motherwork; and A Mother and Her Son: Thoughts on Feminist Mothering.

Left: Andrea O’Reilly

O’Reilly’s peers are full of praise for Rocking the Cradle:

“True to its name, O’Reilly’s collection ‘rocks’ – and not just the cradle, but also the foundations of patriarchy’s rigid rules for mothering,” says Sharon Hays, Streisand Chair of Gender Studies, University of Southern California. “This highly readable, sweeping and provocative volume offers a broadly appealing model of the road to empowerment through the practices of feminist mothering.”

“O’Reilly provides a much-needed antidote to the popularized misconception that feminists are ‘against’ mothers,” says Meredith Michaels, co-author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women.

“This is an important book,” suggests Andrea Buchanan, author of Mother Shock and editor of Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. “O’Reilly makes a powerful case for the necessity of empowered mothering, and anyone who has experienced motherhood as a radicalizing event in her own life will recognize herself in this nuanced, thoughtful discussion of what it means to be a feminist and a mother in the 21st century.”

Rocking the Cradle is available at Demeter Press’ table at the Congress book fair in York Lanes until June 3, at the York University Bookstore and on York’s Centre for Research in Mothering Web site.