Textbook Notes (363,666)
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HLTC02H3 (51)
Chapter 11&12

HLTC02 CHAPTER 11 & 12 NOTES.docx

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Health Studies
Joseph Bryant

Chapter 11: Mothering and Women’s Health Intro:  Mothering - a social experience constructed and shaped by structural conditions, intertwined with competing and conflicting social discourses which have significant implications for the health of women.  Mothering requires material, economic and social investments that are not compensated in material or economic ways which makes mothers vulnerable to health risks and overwhelming workloads, poverty and violence. Mothering: Looking with fresh eyes  Images of a mother in one`s eyes (eg parenting magazine or watching TV) may differ from real life experience of being mothered or of mothering  Many women’s experience of mothering is not ‘picture perfect’ creating a disjuncture between what mothering is ‘supposed’ to look and feel like according to dominant societal messages; and how women actually live & experience mothering in today’s contemporary world. Mothering: A social construction  Mothering tends to be seen as a domestic or personal affair  How women become mothers and live mothering is greatly determined by large public/contextual forces  Mothering is shaped by gendered Western ideals and the realities of late neo-liberal capitalism, and issues of racism, classism, heterosexism, ageism and ableism are embedded within these ideals and realities and serve to generate a range of unstated ‘norms’ that profoundly shape the experiences of women/mothers  Mothering is also shaped by various ideologies and discourses and evaluated against the ‘gold standard’ of mothering within a two-parent family with primary attention to children  Mothering is experienced and evaluated against a range of idealised images that are reflected and promoted in popular media and professional practice and academic research  In Canada, mothering is shaped by discourses enacted in policy and practice in areas like substance use, violence, child custody, child welfare and within the context of lives of women facing challenging circumstances such as immigrant women Aboriginal women Mothering: A Nexus of Discourses  Women seen as natural mothers by virtue of their biology, and also women fulfil their social role of mothering because of their gendered social positions of disadvantage  Bobel (2002) explains that there are essential differences between women and men, with women being morally superior due to their reproductive abilities, has been used in various ways to promote the interests of some women.  Materialist discourses are flourishing with the rise of Neoliberalism and religious fundamentalism – where women as mothers are central to the doctrines of the fundamentalist forms of a range of religions  The essentialist view of mothers as ‘natural’ mothers is contested by Weiss (1998) as prejudiced against women interested in pursuing a life in which children are not the reason for being women or their exclusive focus of attention.What is a ‘good’ mother? Living within the Discourses  Norm of mothering falls within a dual-parent heterosexual couple exerts a particularly powerful influence on the discourse of good mothering  Forms of mothering do not fit the normative discourse of biological, two parent family such as step-mothering, mothering within a lesbian couple, mothering by very young women, mothering within a communal household, grandmothers as primary caregivers and non custodial mothering are marginalised, demonised, stigmatised (eg ‘welfare mother’, ‘teen mother’ Women’s participation in the discourses of mothering  Women participate in the construction of themselves and of one another as persons and as good mothers, and they do share experiences and relations with each other  Good mothers are exclusively devoted to their children and this requires economic dependence, and this is resolved within heterosexual patriarchal relations  Good mothers may simultaneously be selfish and dependent and autonomous and independent within a deficit discourse Mothers in Canada: o Lone heads of households, tend to be poor and increasingly work outside the home o Do majority of the childcare and domestic work, they fare poorly economically following separation Mothering at the intersections, or Discourses in Action  Not all mothers operate in the same structural, cultural and discursive contexts and so their experiences vary with women’s diverse social locations in terms of race, class, religion, sexuality, ability and culture  Women who acquire assets necessary to be deemed worthy according to liberalist discourses have an opportunity to pursue a career do not fair well within the mothering discourse mainly because of social stigma  Women who require state resources for exclusive mothering are rendered inadequate thru the discourse of ‘welfare mom’ or unfit mother  These discourses have performative functions that may mean economic dependence, and through such discourses, the everyday experience of urban minority impoverished women doing the work of mothering was transformed into evidence of their natural maternal inadequacy o In Canada, its Aboriginal women that are most effected by the destructive confluence of discourses and material actualities of mothering because of significant loss of rights and marginalisation from the labour force and the dynamics of colonialism Mothering, Women’s Health and Health care discourses  the psychological discourse surrounds mothers and child development, and here mothers are held accountable for all that was good, bad, and pathological in their children.  The result is that the influence and culpability of mothers in child development have been deeply embedded normative beliefs  Discourses regarding mental illness and mothering also intersect in ways that are extreme oppressive for women, and portray mothers as violent and incapable mothers  Infertility and mental health problems assume that all women want to be mothers and, and the expectation that all women will be mothers, has lent authority to the idea that infertilityMothering and Women’s Health  Mothering requires material, economic and social investment, but its not usually compensated in material or economic ways and this makes women more vulnerable to many health risks eg overwhelming workloads, poverty and violence Mothering Work and Women’s Health  Policy makers and health care practitioners often fail to recognise the time, energy and material resources women expend in their daily reproductive work and the impact it has on their health  There is also little recognition of the detrimental impact of women’s health care and its association with women’s reproductive work in the form of childbearing  Mothering is not only the work of reproduction, nor is it confined to the business of socialising the young to society Mothering, Poverty and Women’s Health  Poverty has particular impacts on the health of lone mothers and their children including hunger and malnutrition - the consequences of both and higher morbidity and mortality  Dynamics of poverty and mothering especially lone mothering are deeply entwined with violence against women – abusive partners can exert power and control 
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