Even as it seems to be taking me 10,000 years to finish Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, I have been compiling a to-read list of books on or related to feminist mothering.
Books I’ve Already Read, Either Partially or Completely
The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild. A classic. But I’ve never finished it, in part because the first case study is so disheartening.
Feminist Mothering, edited by Andrea O’Reilly. I’m reading essays from this book in between all the other books on my to-read list (as I try to keep up with the Writers Studio craft class, thus the Roth). I fear that I’ll never actually finish this, because as it is I’m finding I want to go back and reread the two essays I’ve already read, to glean further insight into ideas that have surfaced since I first read them….
Books to Read
Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich. In my post at the Natural Parents Network on Monday, I forgot to include Rich in the list of poets I read and re-read in my teens. I haven’t read much of her work since, but this book comes up again and again in O’Reilly’s book; O’Reilly writes, “It has long been recognized among scholars of motherhood that Rich’s distinction between mothering and [patriarchal] motherhood was what enabled feminists to recognize that motherhood is not naturally, necessarily, or inevitably oppressive, a view held by some Second Wave feminists. Rather, mothering, freed from motherhood, could be experienced as a site of empowerment, a location of social change if, to use Rich’s words, women became ‘outlaws from the institution of motherhood.’” Outlaws! I love it already.
The War on Moms by Sharon Lerner. The author is a neighbor, and I attended a reading and discussion of the book shortly after its publication. Frankly, I’ve been avoiding it, because I’m afraid it’s going to be a painful read.
Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. I’ve been curious about this book for a while, having first heard of it via (I’m pretty sure) Erin of exhale. return to center. And then I read Lucy’s post about it at Dreaming Aloud; from her post:
Domestic work was valued, requiring skill, creativity and ingenuity, and was satisfying. But economics changed this, first drawing men, then women out of the home. No longer would home be a place of family, food production, education, work and leisure — instead all of these functions were externalised, and bought, requiring money, and thus further work outside the home, and round the circle goes.
The Invisible Heart by Nancy Folbre has actually been sitting in my to-read list for quite some time. I have no idea where I first heard of this book, but in a recent guest post at PhD in Parenting, blue milk provided an excellent explication of many of Folbre’s ideas about patriarchal capitalism and the economics of care. Her post has revitalized my interest in reading this book; sounds like it might be great to read alongside Hayes’s book.
The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz. Remember those good old days, when all papas were breadwinners and all mamas were homemakers? If you do, you’re hallucinating, because those days just never happened.
Never Done by Susan Strasser. All those time-saving housekeeping technologies haven’t really saved us any time; they’ve just encouraged us to raise our standards for cleanliness (though not in my home!).
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I don’t have a daughter, but I could. Plus, how might princess culture affect the Critter’s perceptions of girls — and women?
OK, OK, I know that it will take me 100,000 years to finish reading the books on this list. But anyway — I know that I’m forgetting some books, possibly even some obvious ones! What would you add to the list? Please do tell!
A couple notes: The links to IndieBound are not affiliate links, though I do hope that you support your local independent bookstore. Also, tomorrow I’m heading to a silent meditation retreat, and I will not be back to moderate comments until Sunday afternoon. I trust you all not to get all spammy or trolly in the meantime! xox, Rachael
Photo credit: Richard Nevins