The Mother-Blame Game

mother blame FINAL COVER



Price: $29.95

Page Count: 311

Publication Date: November 2015

ISBN: 978-1-926452-14-2

The Mother-Blame Game is an interdisciplinary and intersectional examination of the phenomenon of mother-blame in the twenty-first century. As the socioeconomic and cultural expectations of what constitutes “good motherhood” grow continually narrow and exclusionary, mothers are demonized and stigmatized—perhaps now more than ever—for all that is perceived to go “wrong” in their children’s lives. This anthology brings together creative and scholarly contributions from feminist academics and activists alike to provide a dynamic study of the many varied ways in which mothers are blamed and shamed for their maternal practice. Importantly, it also considers how mothers resist these ideologies by engaging in empowered and feminist mothering practices, as well as by publicly challenging patriarchal discourses of “good motherhood.”

“The Mother-Blame Game brings the issue of societal mother-blaming to the forefront thereby forcing recognition of its prevalence for all mothers, and particularly for mothers who are “othered” by age, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, physicality or any additional “othering” factor. What makes this book particularly powerful is that it offers critique but also possibilities for transformation, thus revealing how mother-blame can be reversed and how we as a society can work to create greater acknowledgement and value for all mothers.”
—Melinda Vandenbeld Giles, editor, Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism

“When two women who are not mothers themselves recognize the phenomenon of mother-blame in our societies enough to edit an entire volume of essays devoted to naming and challenging the concept, then we are making progress. The many provocative essays that Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian have collected in The Mother-Blame Game take on the shaming of the maternal body — for being too young or too fat or too willing to breastfeed — as well as the cultural blaming of mothers, related to child-rearing methods, protectiveness of children, choices around work, and so many more issues. This volume offers an entry point into many important conversations that are waiting to be had.”
—Rachel Epp Buller, author of Reconciling Art and Mothering

“This book offers a unique examination of mother-blaming in the twenty-first century through its interdisciplinary collection of critical discussions, intersectional research, and personal accounts. The chapters have the necessary diversity that a phenomenon as complex as mother-blaming requires. We are presented with progressive approaches to feminist theory and research that are captivating to read because of the attitude of ethnographic authenticity and critical thinking throughout. I found myself becoming increasingly engaged as I was reading it.”
—Helena Vissing, M.S.


Introduction:
Contextualizing The Mother-Blame Game
Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian
1

i: mother-blame and the body

1.
Mothers, Daughters, Blame, and the Body
Tasha Muresan, Heather Reel, Marie Hansen
and Aurelie Athan
19

2.
Breastfeeding Shame and the Birth of the Mother
Catherine Robinson
36

3.
Unfit Mothers? Mother-Blame and the
Moral Panic over “Obesity”
Tracy Royce
52

ii: blaming “othered” mothers

4.
Fated Fate? Patriarchal Ethics and Reproductive Politics
in Southwest China
Fang-Tzu Yen
67

5.
“I Was the One Who Opened My Legs”:
The Tropes and Consequences of Blaming Pregnant
and Mothering Teens
Jenna Vinson and Sally Stevens
82

6.
“Because You Had Me as a Teen”:
Neoliberalism and the “Problem” of Teen Pregnancy
Vanessa Reimer
105

7.
From the Court of Law to the Court of Public Opinion:
The Role of Mother-Blame in Canadian Infanticide Cases
Kaley M. Ames
121

8.
“We Want to Consistently Address Their Needs”:
Explorations of the Perceptions, Experiences and Challenges
of Parenting Interventions for Incarcerated Mothers
Talia Esnard
136

section iii: mother-blame in popular culture

9.
Blaming the Mother:
The Politics of Gender in Cindy Sheehan’s
Protest of the Iraq War
Linda Pershing
163

10.
Tiger Mothers and the Birth of a New Maternal Epithet:
A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Popular Responses
to Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Sarah Sahagian
188

11.
“Because My Mother Was a Liar and a Whore”:
Adulterous Mothers and Paternity Uncertainty
in Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman
Berit Åström
204

12.
Lean In or Leave before You Leave?
False Dichotomies of Choice and Blame in Public Debates
about Working Motherhood
Jennifer L. Borda
219

iv: sharing mother-blame stories:
strategies for resistance

13.
Twice Shamed and Twice Blamed:
Assumptions, Myths, and Stereotypes about
“Giving Up a Child” and “Taking In a Child”
Lee Murray and Kerri Kearney
237

14.
What My Buddhist Son Taught Me about Blame
Rosie Rosenzweig
255

15.
“Disabling” Motherhood in 1914 and 2014:
Stories of Two Women
Alison Quaggin Harkin
275

16.
Loving Miss jbp:
Writing/Art as Mothering Practice in a
Mother-Blaming Culture
Lorinda Peterson
290

Contributor Notes
306

Vanessa Reimer is a PhD candidate in York University’s Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies. She is the co-editor of Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced us as Feminist Academics and Activists (Reimer and Sahagian 2013). Her research interests include feminist studies in religion, girlhood, and mothering.

Sarah Sahagian is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist and Women’s studies at York University, where she is currently writing her dissertation on the mothering of inter-ethnic children. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Chasing Rainbows, a popular anthology on gender fluid
parenting, as well as The Huffington Post,the pop culture website Comments Enabled and the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative. Sarah also is the co-editor of the Demeter Press book Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced Us as Feminist Academics and Activists.