chapter  1
Social Constructions of Mothering: A Thematic Overview
ByEvelyn Nakano Glenn
Pages 29

The establishment of maternity and family leave policy; requiring workfare for welfare recipients; women's entry into the priesthood: some of the most heated social and political debates taking place in late-twentieth-century America turns out to revolve around disputed meanings of mothering and motherhood in contemporary society. The author, Felice Schwartz, claimed her proposal would expand opportunities for women by allowing them to combine mothering and careers. In order to free women from the inevitability of current mothering arrangements, feminists have had to challenge theories that tie women's position to biological imperatives. Feminist analysis of mothering must also contend with the ideologies that 'have shaped people culture's thinking about motherhood. Feminist historians have uncovered the historical specificity of the construction of mothering as women's primary and exclusive identity, the encapsulation of women and children in the nuclear household, and the emphasis on mothering as emotional care.