Martha Joy Rose – MALS
Professor Martin Burke
American Culture and Values
December 22, 2014
Writing a Sociological History Through Auto-Ethnographical Art and Music Performance Towards a Deeper Understanding of Everything Mom
O’Reilly, A. (Ed.). (2011). Encyclopedia of Motherhood. Sage Publications.
In 2010 Sage Publishing released The Encyclopedia of Motherhood, a collection of texts sourced internationally across interdisciplinary practices. The three-volume work included arts organizations, activist agencies, and academics spearheading new production in the area of motherhood, mothering, mother work, and mother studies. It’s online proclamation states that in the last decade “the topic of motherhood has emerged as a distinct and established field of scholarly inquiry.” There are three volumes to the text. The books are voluminous with approximately 700 entries. They provide an overview of the subject of motherhood in many disciplines, including “anthropology, sociology, psychology and philosophy.” The series examines motherhood from classic civilizations to present day. Good for historical context. Covers a bit about mommy blogs, and mom rock/Mamapalooza. Through the interwoven, inter-connectedness of everything mom, including; high literature, academia, popular fads, and activism, the performing arts, feminist motherhood, or mothers who had once been feminists (but now weren’t sure what they were), are attempting to identify themselves in the private and public sphere. They look to form their identity about themselves and their children within their new role as wife (sometimes), birther (adopter, fosterer, surrogate, etc.), and caregiver (just as feminist identities continue to split, expand, reform, and rename). This is the first such book on this subject and it is an amazing achievement, relevant to anyone interested in motherhood as a legitimate topic of inquiry.
Rose, J. (Composer). (1998). No Prescription Required. [H. O. Prozac, Performer] Hastings On Hudson, NY.
In the middle 1990’s a mother discourse began in two continents. The artistic sphere was pioneered through an identification of “mom rock” in the United States. The mom rock movement envisioned itself as a legitimizing art form created to amplify the experiences of women who were mothers. It flourished through mid-2007. Housewives on Prozac was the first of these bands pioneered by me in the small suburban town of Hastings On Hudson just outside New York City. I had been performing since 1980 in the post-punk NY scene and was professionally trained as an actress (BFA Theater, Denison 1979). After four kids, I realized the music business was done with me, even if I wasn’t done with it. I picked up my guitar and started to sing about the calamity of middle life, middle age, and children. Other American mothers picked up their guitars too and began putting songs together with performance groups like Merry and the Mood Swings, the Mydols, and Placenta. Appearances on CNN, Good Morning America, The Chicago Tribune, New York Times and USA Today, to name a few, identified these mom rockers as influencers against the “tyranny of a subsumed identity within the role of motherhood.” The Mamapalooza festival successfully expanded during the period of 2002-ongoing. Performances took place in four countries, and twenty-five cities, with several hundred performers annually during the month of May. A film by Kate Perotti, called Momz Hot Rocks documents the journey from 2005-2008.
Janet Jakobsen, C. S. (Ed.). (n.d.). A New Queer Agenda. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://sfonline.barnard.edu/a-new queer-agenda/
A New Queer Agenda at Barnard College is a good example of an activist organization that has defined goals and a plan of action. They have clearly determined an agenda and have made the decisions that are necessary to support that agenda. In the case of LGBQT rights, “The Scholar and Feminist Journal” picked (for example) gay marriage as the big issue and aligned itself within an institution for long-term success and survival. This is a good example of a meaningful social engagement project. My music movement was not like this. I particularly eschewed political involvement, and was looking specifically to create more artistic opportunities, not necessarily something constructed as a business or even as an agenda, other than the goal of creating more opportunities for women to make music, comedy, literature, and be heard.
Collins, P. H. (2000). Black Feminist Thoughts: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
Patricia Hill Collins argues in her book Black Feminist Thought, that a “highly effective system of social control [was] designed to keep African-American women in an assigned, subordinate place.” (p.5)I would add that this was true for both black and white women involved in the original mother arts movement. For the most part we struggled against some invisible force that we could not put our fingers on. Collins brings her very important voice to the conversation. Her perspectives level the theoretical playing field in terms of necessitating that prominent women from a wide range of professional backgrounds be included, adding dimension and diversity to the equation when weighing in on everything mom. She expands the depth and dimension to the conversation by interpreting the undercurrent of social inequality that prevails throughout the category of woman and mother.
Patricia Madoo Lengerman, G. N. (1998). The Women Founders. Long Grove, Illinois, USA: Waveland Press.
The marginalization of women is not an original idea. The authors of The Women Founders question why women’s contributions have been obliterated from the history of sociological thought. On each count, the first being social control and the second being legitimacy within the social order, women have been marginalized from positions of authority. The authors contend that women’s voices were systematically erased from the canons. They give examples of female sociologists, theorizing in the nineteenth and early twentieth century who, unlike their male counterparts, were purposefully omitted. This was because of at least two major factors: “the politics of gender” and “the politics of knowledge” (p. 11& 14). According to these authors the accounting is situated within a patriarchal framework; women were not considered as important as men. Sociology’s contributions to humankind’s understanding of the nature and causes of our complicated interpersonal interactions in the 1800/1900s led to the legitimization of the field and to the scientization of sociology as a practice. Finally, the emergence of the university as a stable source of income was a “move that was part of a quest for professional authority, social status, and job and salary security” (p. 15). These power arrangements proliferated for those practicing sociology. The Women Founders focuses on women who lived a hundred years ago but lends an important perspective to this paper in terms of establishing a pattern of inequity with regard to the treatment of women in serious intellectual circles, and the ways in which economic imperatives determined outcomes.
Kinser, A. (2010). Motherhood and Feminism. Berkeley, California, USA: Seal Press.
Mothering work in America has been largely enacted within a domestic sphere. If “mother” were a real job, in the real world then you’d have to apply, you could get fired, you would get paid, you would be accountable, and it would require education and training, at least within a capitalist society. But, because motherhood is privatized it is not generally considered a social issue. Amber Kinser, author of Motherhood and Feminism describes a culture founded on binary constructions of men and women. She argues that the “Cartesian Divide” as early as the 17th Century began to assign the role of the body to women, and the role of the mind to men. This divide was enacted philosophically making women intellectually inferior, and also left them materially in the “private world,” while men claimed the “public world” (2008, p. 11). Her book illustrates the first, second, and third wave of feminism in clear, easy to understand terms. She also includes a mention of Mamapalooza as an activist organization. She writes, “Mamapalooza is committed to helping mothers discover their creativity through music and the performing arts” (p. 151).
Smith, D. (1987). The Everyday World As Problematic; A Feminist Sociology. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
The phenomenon of “silencing” according to Dorothy E. Smith is a two way street, enacted by both men and women. In the book The Everyday World as Problematic, Dorothy E. Smith directs the reader to look at the idea of silencing in the following ways: male authority is not a conspiracy among men simply imposed on women; it is a complimentary social process between women and men– one in which women are complicit in their silencing. Because of the authority of the male voice, “men have authority in the world as members of a social category” (p. 29), and this category of authority serves as a form of power that allows men to get things done. Likewise women, especially women who have children, are not only susceptible to the general social ideology of the “good and obedient mother” but also, those in partnerships are likewise bound by their husband’s or partner’s compliance. Dorothy E. Smith is a challenging read, presenting dense intellectual material, but well worth it for her foundational “standpoint theory” perspectives.
O’Reilly, A. (Ed.). (1998).Redefining Motherhood Changing; Identities and Patterns. Toronto,
On: Second Story Press
Andrea O’Reilly was working on Re-defining Motherhood; Changing Identities and Patterns, which was published in 1998 one year after I started my band in New York. She was interested in dispelling stereotypes about motherhood too. This demonstrates that we were both concerned with women/mother identity and the roles mothers play in the domestic and public sphere. Andrea is a PhD Professor of Women’s Studies at York University in Canada. She wrote in the introduction to her book, “These authors move beyond myths and stereotypes of mothering to explore differences among women and within individual women in order to challenge the existence of a universal meaning of motherhood…. Mothers are never only mothers. Simultaneously they are lovers, workers, activists, daughters, partners, sisters, neighbors, aunts, friends, and so on” (1998, p. 14). Andrea is probably the most prominent voice with regard to academic perspectives on motherhood, churning out a number of edited editions each year through her publishing company Demeter Press. We worked together for several years, and I have attended her conferences and she has attended mine. Things were not always smooth. We have had our differences, but continue to work together. Demeter Press will publish Mothers, Motherhood and Music in 2016, which will contain portions of the paper I wrote for Hester Eisenstein’s Sociology of Gender class based on this bibliography. In 2014 the Museum of Motherhood inducted her into the Motherhood Hall of Fame in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the field of mother studies. Andrea is a formidable intellect and champion of all things mother. I am her greatest fan.
Gilman, C. P. (1911). Suffrage Songs and Verses. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from Internet
Mother, writer, sociologist, and activist, Charlotte Perkins Gilman used music and poetry to awaken women to their position in society in 1911. “Suffrage Songs and Verses” admonishes women to seek their place in the world in the song “Women of To-day.” Her lyrics are: “And still the wailing babies come and go, and homes are waste, and husband’s hearts fly far; there is no hope until you dare to know the thing you are!” Music as a form of worship, celebration, and activism, has a long history. I am very much with Gillman on many counts. Her view on the core causes of inequality stemming from the patriarchal properties of acquisition and possession, her interest in “promoting progress and fairness” (p. 125), and her theories about the sexuo-economic relation resonate (p. 117). The latter theory in which sex is leveraged (often unknowingly) as an economic stabilizer deserves more mention but must be left for another time. The fact that Gillman was as lucid as she was, and an artist on top of that, serves as an inspiration. Gilman is also one of the “Founders” mentioned in The Women Founders text.
Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. (1983). http://www.rockhall.com
The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’s mandate may serve the message of this paper with regard to music being employed as an activist tool. Even though I did not begin with an activist agenda (as I have stated earlier) it became clear that activism would be required simply to claim a right and power to make mother-made art. Therefore an agenda for social change began to slowly trickle into the platform. The Rock ‘n Roll Museum is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It “exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.” The museum does this through exhibits, and classes, as well as teaching plans it offers to those who wish to use music education in their classroom. The lesson plan on “music’s role in civic and cultural upheaval” invites users to learn about “rock artists [who] have used their music as a forum to address various social and political conditions surrounding them.” They focus particularly on “protest” or “message” songs. Their emphasis is on civil rights, served with a large helping of Bob Dylan (there are no mom rock songs in this collection) are presented for the purposes of demonstrating the power of music in inspiring social change.
Whiteley, S. (2000). Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity. New York,
Sheila Whiteley, in her book Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity devotes much text to examining “sexuality, gender, freedom, and repression constructed and rooted in the lived experience and then related to the ways in which art, music, and popular culture provide a focus for challenging established representations of femininity” (p. 11). She confirms that the employment of music for self-identification purposes is substantiated. Music has been used to break down boundaries and create dissent. Identities such as those of “mom rockers” could assist in creating conversations about “good mom” and “bad mom” stereotypes as well as help to examine the role of motherhood itself. This offers further introspection regarding the individual women at the center of the motherhood persona.
Ruddick, S. (1989). Maternal Thinking. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Sara Ruddick’s, Maternal Thinking; Towards a Politics of Peace introduces the concept of a philosophical mother who can reason, and gaze upon her role as caregiver from an informed, and contemplative place. She argues that anyone can be a mother regardless of gender, and the thing that constitutes motherhood is the act of mothering (something men can do too). Her ideas help to better demonstrate the way in which the concept of mother can be turned towards intellectual pursuits that are situated and informed specifically through the role of mother. A New York Times review of the book said, “Is there any subject that has been more sentimentalized, mythologized or analyzed than motherhood? But oddly enough, though the mother is everywhere, the maternal view of things is rarely given intellectual credibility or sustained articulation” [Link]. Additionally, by naming the thing “Maternal Thinking” and calling out the “mother” in her book she helps pave the way for the emerging mom identity as evidenced with terms like, “working mother,” “maternal philosopher,” “maternal theorist,” “mom-rocker,” and “feminist mother.” These things could now be labeled and embodied in the public sphere.
O’Reilly, A. (Ed.). (2007). Maternal Theory. Bradford, Ontario, Canada: Demeter Press.
In this collection of essays about motherhood, O’Reilly makes sure to take on the issues of race, class, and gender. O’Reilly consolidates a maternal feminist theory into one place, promoting a scholarly approach that is both inclusive and far-reaching in its discipline. Native American, Hispanic, and Black authors weigh in on the theorizing. A recognition of the failure of much of the second wave feminist movement to address LGBQT, non-White, Black, Latina, Arab and other(s) emerged throughout the 1990s and continues in some way through the thread of women’s discussions today– these women who are in the continual process of making, and unmaking themselves, and their concepts about themselves, as well as their children. This is the forefront of what any feminist motherhood movement is—the constant expanding, and microscoping of identity, action, theory, and its ongoing creations. This book is a necessary and important read for any mother studies scholar.
Evans, C. (2014). Working Mother Magazine. Working Mother Magazine . New York, NY,
USA: Bonnier Publishing.
Working Mother Magazine was founded in 1979, incorporating the concept of mother as a worker, outside the home. The “Working Mother” missive focused on issues such as equal pay, flexible work schedules, and childcare. Primarily a “how to” advocacy magazine for corporations and their female employees, WMM’s website says it has grown to readership of 2.2 million, and is part of a Bonnier Publishing, a company with more than $200 million in revenue. The “working mother” identity helps to prioritize women’s labor in the American workforce helping to balance the Feminist agenda of followers of Betty Friedan in the sense that the “housewife” has left her home. The magazine makes an appeal on issues of diversity, best work practices, and “The Multicultural Women’s National Conference,” (if you are to believe their PR and I largely do). They continue to perpetuate themselves through books like President, Carol Evan’s, This Is How We Do It.
Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. New York, NY: Alfred P.
Cheryl Sandberg is a smart, dedicated and successful woman, at the pinnacle of success in corporate America. She has finessed her family and her brand of “feminism” into a rousingly successful, fairly well-researched 182-page book celebrating the “Will To Lead.” She wants to share her how to knowledge of success with the rest of us, and help us all reach the “top of our field” (p. 10). She proposes we do this by “leaning in” to true equality. Her self-described “Feminist Manifesto” offers all sorts of tidy sound bites for those wishing to swim in the upper echelon of the work force and society. However she does not wield her influence in the direction of fundamental societal change. If she did, she would be advocating for more structural supports for families as well as acknowledging the systemic lack of opportunities for so many women. Her brand of “feminism lite,” only winks at the problems the majority of women, who are working mothers face, without stopping to analyze the corporate systems she embraces. She’s a player, not a pioneer. She also does not speak to the full-time caregiver, or the disadvantaged. This book does advance a thesis that confirms Hester Eisenstein’s premise that feminism has indeed been seduced. (See her book Feminism Seduced).
Hanauer, C. (Ed.). (2003). The Bitch in the House. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
The Bitch in the House was released as a collection of mother authors. This was a big splash in terms of mainstream recognition for something that was mother-literature-created. It got a lot of attention. The contributors to this collection recognized that certain successes followed the second wave feminist movement, but that lingering frustrations remained. These frustrations had no real name. They emulate a general outcry regarding the competing burdens of career and motherhood and they resonate with dominant popular culture, registering an impact on conversations about motherhood. The book itself represents the writings of 26 authors, thus enforcing the collective nature of the articulation. Some people accused the contributors of only swimming in the top tier of the mother’s movement due to a privileged status of race (they were mostly white), and class (there were mostly upper middle class).
Moreton, B. (2010). To Serve God and Wal-Mart The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Boston,
MA: Harvard University Press.
Bethany Moreton opens her book To Serve God and Walmart; “the making of Christian free enterprise” with a nod to Walmart Moms, who according to Moreton represented a demographic of one in five mothers in 1995. She describes a culture of Americans who embrace their shopping just as zealously as they embrace their God and family. How can it be that a “Gap Mom” finds agency by wearing “rock star” jeans, or how are “Wal-Mart employees and customers attain[ing] an experience of national belonging simply by shopping and working in the store” (p. 3)? I had never heard of a “Walmart Mom” in 1997, but in 2007 I was friends with Sue Fabisch who recorded the song and video “Walmart Woman.” She was one of the original Mamapalooza performers out of Nashville and created events there for several years. (Video link: http://www.mtv.com/videos/misc/132932/music-city-madness-sue-fabisch-wal-mart-woman.jhtml#id=1554388). Moreton’s take helps to establish how enmeshed consumer culture and American identity are. She makes a strong case for the capitalist credo enforcing much of our mother identity and consciousness.
Suisman, D. (2009). Selling Sounds; The Commercial Revolution in American Music. Boston,
MA: Harvard University Press.
David Suisman, in his book Selling Sounds; The Commercial Revolution in American Music, notes that the ephemeral nature of the parlor piano was tidily replaced in the late 1800’s and transformed into a commodification by the wily likes of the early sheet music tradesman of Tin Pan Alley. Ironically this period from 1880 to 1930 coincides with the first wave of American feminism, and the Hollywood star system (p. 128). It is not a stretch to observe the ways in which the artist becomes much less important than his or her ability to sell and promote the product. He acknowledges, “the contours of American consumer society became clear in the early twentieth century” and “that access to goods could be equated with the expansion of American democracy” (p. 123). Suisman’s treatment of the chapter on Black Swan Records closely parallels my own experience with the music industry. Black Swan engaged in a “radical attempt to confront, challenge, and disrupt the invisibility of the modern music industry” (p. 205). The label was the first label formed by Blacks, making Black music, and selling to Black audiences. It was a political statement as much as an artistic one focused on calling on Americans to think about their consumerism. Harry Pace, the founder of Black Swan understood “social relations and the distribution of power in society” (p. 238). Suisman points to Pace’s use of branding, music, and activism in the following way, “the meaning of music depended not just on what was recorded but also which messages were associated with those recordings” (p. 238). Pace was experimenting with complex interdependencies that constitute our human economy, not just our financial economy. He was unsuccessful. The story of Black Swan Records is one of a small company, with a vision, getting swallowed by its own attempts at integrity. The bigger labels won the business, and Black Swan folded.
Crittendon, A. (2001). The Price of Motherhood. New York, New York: Picador.
Ann Crittendon writes about motherhood being the most important job in the world, with the least recognition, very little support (in terms of social services), and the only job for which no pay is forthcoming. She examines some of the policies and attitudes that contribute to this state of being and compares the United States to the rest of the world in terms of women’s value within society. The U.S. does not fare well. This book is excellent for establishing factual evidence about women’s pay discrepancies, some of the reasons for capitalist concepts regarding birthing and caregiving. She utilizes interviews and economic research to form her premise. It is a smart accessible read, which is probably why it was a national best seller in 2001. We need more high profile books like this that depict the ongoing social and economic issues women, who are mothers face. She’s intelligent without being too academic.
Marketing to Moms Coalition. (2011). http://www.marketingtomomscoalition.org/docs/2011-
The Marketing to Moms Coalition is “dedicated to supporting and understanding of mothers as the most powerful consumer group in the U.S.” It is a $2.4 trillion dollar market that makes 85% of the buying decisions in their households. This is a huge market. I have watched the evolution of mom-branded everything from its beginnings (with my band in 1997) through the current day. I know people who have started successful marketing companies and situated themselves in the center of the mom-market. I also have attended the M2M Conference in Chicago, which is the premise for which the Marketing to Moms Coalition was founded on. I left with a bad taste in my mouth. Again, the problem was, I didn’t want to sell women something, I wanted to empower them to use their voices for art, for change, and for personal expression.
Dieckmann, Katherine. (2009). Motherhood: New York, New York: John Wells Productions,
Killer Films, iDeal Partners Film Fund.
Motherhood the movie stars Uma Thurman (2009) who plays an overwhelmed mother, who has subsumed her personality within the role of mother. She runs from meeting to meeting, child activity to child activity with no time for herself or her husband. She stumbles on the opportunity to enter a contest and an opportunity to have her work published. The contest is the “Mamapalooza” contest. The film leveraged my “Mamapalooza” festival brand as a potential source of empowerment for Thurman. I was shocked when I first saw the movie. The producers did not contact me, consult me, or acknowledge me regarding the use of my brand.
Eisenstein, H. Feminism Seduced. (2009). Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
In her book Feminism Seduced, Hester Eisenstein further substantiates the capitalist consumer narrative by tracing the permeating qualities of Neo Liberal capitalism, and illustrating the ways in which the feminist movement has more or less be duped into adopting lifestyles within the same system they fought against. Eisenstein asks if, “there a way to decouple modernity from capitalism (p. 201)?” The democratizing features of capitalism, at least as it was first presented in the discussions of “Westernizing” the world (p. 20 Eisenstein) the “modernization of women, linked to having economic independence, getting married later, and changing attitudes about sex,” still leaves open the question of how are women, who are mothers, engaged in performing motherhood affected, moved, and ultimately changed by these developments? Not that much probably. We simply don’t give a [bleep] about mothers unless its from a consumer perspective. Then we care a great deal. They are importance as shoppers. Within the third wave, mothers, and the ways in which notions of activism and agency have been co-opted by brands to confuse people into the symbiotic inter-play of “shopping for a cause.”
Rothman, B. K. (1989). Recreating Motherhood. Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books.
Barbara Katz Rothman contends that American society is rooted in three dominant ideologies: patriarchy, technology, and capitalism ( p.27). She sees the evolution of mothers and their children in these terms. They are lacking in power and agency. Rothman connects patriarchy and capitalism to a universal view of women as disposable producers within a society that fundamentally commodifies life (p. 20). Her work is helpful in terms of situating mothers within a power structure that is so much larger and more pervasive than can easily be perceived. However, her theories fit nicely into this thesis because they contextualize the phenomenon of women finding their empowerment and place within a consumer society that has positioned them to be co-creators of this paradigm from the beginning.
Find this paper online at: https://momrockstar.wordpress.com/annotated-bibliography/
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