Family and Women’s Role
There are two types of mothering practices in which traditional rules have been transformed by symbolic measures designed to “free” Mother. The first context involves the rules governing custody in divorce. Mothers who are cast as the central images of this type of reform activity in mainstream family law are typically the (sometime) housewife mothers who are now encouraged (or expected to be also interested) in pursuing a career (or compelled to take a job). These mothers have been caught in the rhetoric of equality that casts their situations in aspirational terms. They have become “partners” in an egalitarian marriage, no more or no less capable of raising children (or mothering) or of earning a family wage than their husbands. Their gender-neutral statuses as “spouses” and “parents” are consistent with the stated expectations of a true partnership marriage.