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The Maternal is Political

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In a raw and emotional literary anthology, 30 women express their frustrations about motherhood, their disappointment with unsupportive work environments and their deep desire for social change. In her debut effort as an anthology editor, Strong brings together voices of veteran and first-time writers in a cacophony of cries that mothering isn't just personal, it's political. The stories include Annie Downey, a struggling mother on welfare ; Jennifer Margulis and her husband who, unable to reconcile full-time work and parenting, quit office work and begin a home business; and Helaine Olen's horror stories of mean moms in playgroups who look down on stay-at-home mothers. Anne Lamott writes of the difficulty of espousing a pro-choice position before a largely Catholic audience. This book has a liberal bent, and happy, content mothers don't get much airtime. Young women considering motherhood may be taken aback by the rage and unchecked anger in some of the essays and the lack of solutions presented. But if shock spurs action, this anthology has done its job.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Among the contributors, I was happy to see I recognized all the names, having read their work someplace else or read about them in the newspapers (most likely CNN or elsewhere across the Internet); as well as having worked with a few. Overall, it is a very necessary book- very emotional, very raw- necessary reading for every mother." -- KrisUnderwood, Writing In The Mountains, June 10th, 2008

"Just as these women may not have set out to write on politics, neither did I. I don't think I wrote one political essay until the birth of my daughter four years ago. Since then, I've spoken out on a lot, most often about affordable childcare. I didn't think America needed my voice until I was flung into the trenches of motherhood, and I realized there is so much to be done, and not just for me and my family, but for all families." -- Surrender, Dorothy: Reviews, June 12th, 2008

And with all this writing, The Maternal Is Political gets the big thing right, too. It's great writing, cover to cover. It's all here-gender politics, sexual politics, school politics, adoption politics, religious politics, body politics, community politics, family politics, social politics--but with a mix of tone and approach that makes the book a real pleasure to read. Rather than weighing you down with the utter importance of it all, these writers make you want to think critically, get up off the couch, make a phone call, sign a petition. Do good in the world, and teach your children how to do good, also." -- Food for Thought, June 11th, 2008

Motherhood -- as any mother knows -- is a time of intense personal transformation and, often, for some, overwhelming isolation. For others, it is also the beginning of a new consciousness and awareness of the needs of other human beings, the needs of others beyond self. The Maternal Is Political is a reminder that becoming a mother is a process that should not signal the end of political and social engagement, but in fact, should welcome the beginning. The many various takes on "social change" at work here exemplify the many different feminisms that mothers practice today. There is no one "right" activism, the collection ultimately states, yet there is - and will always be - a world beyond our doors, filled with other mothers, fathers, children, and communities that need impassioned activist mothers ready to engage with and heal it. -- Feminist Review, June 24th, 2008

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