A Deconstruction of (M)otherhood and a Reconstruction of Parenthood


For the first time in the history of our nation, economics, and in some respects, the social culture of the United States dictate that most women should work outside the home for wages. This expectation collides with mainstream approval of women’s role in the home. The conflict between and among the varied roles that society expects women to play is most acute concerning parenthood. As a result, the concept of motherhood has become increasingly laden with theoretical and practical difficulties.

This Note seeks a new and more useful way to understand how and why our society has constructed motherhood as a problem. My approach takes advantage of critical theory’s aim to reconceive of rationality, autonomy, and reflection within a changing culture and society by using the tools of philosophy and the social sciences. As my goal is in part to attack the cognitive categories set in our unconscious that drive our perceptions, I explore a world that breaks down discrete and defined separations between and among people and social institutions. Both my critique and my creative project are antiessentialist.

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Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with