Saturday, February 14, 2009

the invisible mother

xposted from womanist musings

In feminist circles there is often commentary regarding our shared experiences as women. What is ignored is that though certain situations are similar based solely in gender, quite often we experience them differently when there is a race or class intersection. As mothers our capacity to love our children is boundless, but this is not nearly the universalizing experience as presented by most forms of media, or mainstream feminism. All mothers are not created equal. For the middle/upper class white woman, with her mini van and Prada purses there are plenty of visible representations of positive motherhood. If however you are a woman of color, the erasure in the discourse of motherhood is totalizing.

Women of color are not constructed as mothers; they are presented as irresponsible breeders who did not have the decency not to burden society with their offspring. Their right to reproduce is continually challenged because a capitalist economy does not encourage production without an obvious profit. The reality of the situation is, if a child grows in a poor household despite the pull yourself up by the boots rhetoric, they are most likely to grow into poor adults trapped by a system that has refused to give them equal opportunity from birth.

The mother/breeder binary is readily obvious in most parenting magazines. The stories are often written by white women of the privileged class, while the lived experiences of women of color are absent from the pages. Despite the courage and strength of will that is necessary to raise a child, when you exist as a marginalized body your stories are not deemed compelling, or marketable. Women of color are meant to serve as “mothers helpers,” not exist as actual mothers.

As the elite rush off to mommy and me gatherings in between scheduling for their high intensity careers, what is ignored is that the option to pursue such a range of possibility only exists because of the ability to exploit another woman. Poor so-called third world women who are often separated from their families function as an invisible support staff, permitting women of the privileged class to announce that yes Virginia, we can have it all.

read more at womanist musings here

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