The Motherhood Movement

A Motherhood Movement For The 21st Century

Original Article: Women’s Media Center, Oct, 2008 By Joy Rose

“You say you want a revolution?” is the theme of an international gathering in Toronto this month, where a grassroots movement to give voice and power to the mothers of the world is poised to come of age. The founder of the “rock ‘n roll” wing of the movement tells us what it’s all about.

For women who are mothers trying to get on with the business of their our lives, the current political debate over whether soccer moms really are pit bulls with lipstick misses the point. Stereotypes continue to limit women through labels. Identities like working moms, alpha moms, hot moms, hip moms and rocker moms lack substance and integrity, and do not tell the story of American women.

The beginning of what has become a modern motherhood movement isn’t about celebrity baby bumps, or politics as usual. Such organizations as the Association Of Research On Mothering (ARM) – NOW reformed as MIRCI, MomsRising, Mamapalooza and Mother~ The Job have raised the bar on what mothers do—how they’re perceived, appreciated, and compensated.

Feminism rocked the business world over the last 30 years but found it more difficult to reach deep enough into the fabric of family, where women today still struggle to articulate and reconcile the differences between traditional roles of wife and mother; and businesswoman, board president and candidate for president or vice president. Sarah Palin’s sound-bite descriptions of herself as a hockey mom do little to move the conversation forward.

Plenty of media sources continue to hold women who are mothers hostage through guilt trips, comparisons, and outdated expectations. But the fastest growing segment of small businesses owners in America are women, many of whom have a much more realistic idea about women’s day-to-day lives. Some are mothers who have jumped on the marketing-to-mom bandwagon. While much of this may be more about sales than about changing the way we live, anything that amplifies the voices of women has to help in the long run.

ARM has conducted first-rate research and amassed thousands of academic articles since its inception in 1997. ARM founder and feminist studies professor Andrea O’Reilly has led the charge generating international gatherings, books, presentations and classes. On the weekend of October 25, leaders from more than 20 of the most important mom/feminist groups will gather in Toronto to lend power to what has already flourished as a grassroots movement.

Among the participants are:

* Moms Rising, which organized massive online registration in support of the Fair Pay Restoration Act and demonstrations that most recently delivered hand-decorated baby onesies to Capitol Hill as a way to emphasize needs for child health care, paid maternity leave and equal pay for women in the workplace who also happen to be mothers.

* Mother~ The Job, whose film “All Day” follows the hands of a mother as she goes about her maternal duties, pointing out the monetary value of that work offered free of charge.

* Mamapalooza, formed in 2002 with the notion that art and rock and roll is a great way to serve up a platter of revolution within the home. Refusing to settle into any one category, the women of Mamapalooza have been presenting large-scale community festivals, media and workshops as a way to empower and articulate the ever-changing voices of women who are mothers.

At the heart of this movement is the notion that women who are mothers are women first, that every woman has a life beyond her role as mother and that motherhood is a job that needs to be respected, monetized and personalized according to the needs and ideals of each individual and family. Others may play on women’s fears, but these are the voices that will continue to redefine the power of mothers.

The revolution is here and while it’s still too early to say exactly how the roles of mother will evolve, evolve they will. And we will be able to look back on this time: ARM and Mamapalooza’s next initiative is founding a Museum of Motherhood. Like all great revolutions, with time and ‘mom’mentum, this movement will leave a mark.

This article was originally posted by The Women’s Media Center at The WMC is a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan, dedicated to making the female half of the world visible and powerful in the media. Special thanks to OP ED NEWS.


Motherhood Movement Book By Dr. Andrea O’Reilly, Forthcoming HERE

Mamapalooza Inc., Joy Rose, Media Mom™ and Team focus on Women-Empowered, Mom-Branded, Entertainment, Education, Business & Activism. Mamapalooza is a steady supplier of varied and exciting programs that have led to innovative activities positively impacting families, amplifying the voices of women and revolutionizing marketing to moms, respecting them as trend setters and women of influence.A mom-owned and operated multimedia organization, Mamapalooza has successfully pioneered a new culture of mama-artistry and empowerment. Events, media, print, workshops, festivals, publications, CDs, membership, and blogs connect and entertain through grass-roots programs that support (m)others and more while creating ongoing platforms for women that elevate and inspire. Mamapalooza’s ongoing mission is to create authentic large-scale experiences that put feminist family values front and center while reaching millions.

The Motherhood Foundation Inc. is a certified nonprofit 501c3 that creates, produces and presents artistic, educational and cultural content that studies and supports mothers and their activities. MFI disseminates information about mothers for broad public consumption, while paying tribute to mothers (Moms) free of age, race and socio-economic barriers. MFI cares about, and acts upon the status of women, while celebrating the courage, fortitude and ingenuity of mothers, and addresses important issues, creates meaningful content, and provides compelling community experiences. The Motherhood Foundation is working to bring its online Museum Of Motherhood to a real physical home. We’re working to raise the funds necessary to make this vision a reality. M.O.M. is a real and virtual social change museum focused on amplifying the voices and experiences of mothers while connecting ‘the cultural family’. Ongoing real and virtual exhibitions continue throughout North America and beyond.

The Museum of Motherhood is the first and only facility of it’s kind serving as a unique resource for those who wish to study the history of mothers, mother-art, and the culture of family. The Museum’s purpose is to provide a space and platform that raises awareness of mother-work and amplifies the voices of women and families., while encouraging individuals to evaluate their own experiences as mothers in authentic and mindful ways. The Museum of Motherhood serves as a unique resource and archive for everyone who wants to study mothers from lay-people, to school children, to serious scholars.

Quotes: NCP Community and the importance of being ’embraced’:

“It wasn’t until recently that I began to feel comfortable again in my own mama-skin. For that, I must credit the women I now have around me—I never had a sense of community until I started working in feminist circles that gave me supportive environments in which to live and work. One group essential to me is Mamapalooza, with its president Joy Rose. It is an international performing arts and music festival created to celebrate women as mothers and artists. At the New York City conference last year, I was impressed with how moms were highlighted in all their diversity. Joy was the first person who immediately “got” me once I’d shared my story—the first time I felt free to talk about Oscar and myself without caution. I realized how withdrawn and protective I had been as Joy joked about “outing” me as a mom to a friend of hers.

This is the first Mother’s Day I have identified as a member of the feminist mamasphere and appreciate coming together as a community to honor our mother figures.”

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