In our ongoing efforts to bring education and practical knowledge together in a place where we can cooperatively learn and grow, MOM is proud to present the work of our newest intern Aster Woods. Aster hails from the Welsh/English border and is interested in museum curatorship, art, caregiving labor, and the notion of #queering motherhood. She contacted us regarding her interest in creating an online body of work around these topics.
The phrase “queering” something has been widely used to deconstruct normative assumptions about individuals and social expectations. By queering something, we are asking people to reconstruct a known definition of something and complexify it, complicate it, and disentangle it from its strict confines. Often motherhood, and the way in which it is performed, is something people are quick to judge and fast to condemn. Some believe that all mothers should only behave in nice, good, and proper ways. But, women who are mothers, are people first, with all their inherent problems, issues, and challenges. When we apply one universal theme to all people we stop seeing them for who they really are, which in turn makes the individual invisible. Below are some excerpts from the book Queering Motherhood, which Aster is reading as she goes through the next several weeks with us looking at this subject.
Essentialism is a sociological theory that reduces a person to their biology, causing unsupported, widely erroneous claims. From the book Queering Motherhood: “Antecedently convinced of biological essentialism, the romanticization of the biological mother-child bond shapes one’s phenomenological experiences of biological motherhood; those experiences then become “proof” of the essentialist hypothesis, making it a difficult hypothesis to dislodge.”P5
i.e. if a person is already convinced of biological motherhood being the only valid form of motherhood, the idealized view of the bond between mother and child forces that person to experience motherhood within that limited parameter (i.e. the biological bond is sacred and mystical) which then “proves” the original hypothesis, making a circular argument that is difficult to break. However, we have, as a society, a wealth of qualitative research and anecdotal evidence that proves that a mother-child bond can be profound to the point of sacredness in fathers and non-biological mothers.
“we may do psychic harm to children who do not live with their biological mothers, causing children who are adopted or raised by another mother to wonder why their real mother failed to exhibit maternal instinct.”P6
5 Reasons Why You Should Never Ask Queer Parents “Where does your baby come from?”
1. It’s invasive! The journey to queer parenting can be difficult, deeply personal and often unique. Respect boundaries.
2. You wouldn’t ask a straight family that. By asking a queer couple, you perpetuate their “othermess.”
3. You imply that their parentage is not valid or real. Their baby is their baby. End of discussion.
4. It’s disrespectful to the baby, too. As they grow older they will develop their own perspectives on their origins, and it should be up to them what they disclose, and to whom.
5. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Your life will not be impacted by this knowledge in any way, therefore, you have no right to know. If the parents themselves share with you then that’s their choice. But don’t ever ask!