MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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Annual Academic MOM Conference, NYC 2019: Rewriting Trauma

REWRITING TRAUMA & VISIBILITY

Motherwork, Pregnancy, and Birth

Manhattan College
Bronx, NY
APRIL 5-6 2019

Calling all sociologists, women’s, sexuality, and gender scholars, masculinity studies scholars, birth-workers, doctors, maternal psychologists, motherhood and fatherhood scholars, artists, performers: This conference call for papers focuses on uncovering, naming and rewriting traumas of motherwork, pregnancy and birth. We especially aim to make visible those topics related to (dis)abilities and other marginalized positionalities, relying on Patricia Hill Collins’ conceptualization of motherwork as mothering that is designed for the survival and success of the next generation in the context of oppression. We recognize traumas in multiple forms, originating before, during, and after pregnancy and birth and throughout motherhood, contextualized by the intersectional identities of those traumatized. We encourage presenters to unpack the sociocultural domain and the medicalized environment within which traumas often occur, embracing and analyzing meaning-making, as Barbara Katz Rothman and others would have us do, in the areas of maternal health and well-being.

We intend the conference to serve as a site of resistance as we reframe and reconstruct the landscape of embodied trauma within motherwork, pregnancy and birth and the ongoing labor of mothers and caregivers everywhere. We recognize the scale, variance, and duration of trauma and hope to support and empower those who most need it.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

Intersectional identities as the context of motherwork, pregnancy and birth traumas

Motherwork, pregnancy and birthing with (dis-)abilities, illness, and children with special needs

Biomedical and cultural discourses of motherwork, pregnancy, and birth, including issues related to marginalized identities, fertility treatment, gender, and intersex identities
Normative constructions of gender in motherwork, pregnancy and birthing

Child and maternal psychology interventions, alternative therapies, and results

Breastfeeding ambivalences, obstacles, and outcomes

Future wombs, including transplants, artificial constructions, cloning, and surrogacy

Art as healing and activism as visible resistance
Embodied resistance to socially constructed proscriptions and conventions about motherwork, pregnancy, and birth, especially as contextualized within marginalized positionalities

Narratives surrounding:

  • High-risk pregnancies, pregnancy-related illnesses, and birthing complications
  • Cesarean Section, Episiotomy and other Obstetric Violence
  • Stillbirths or Therapeutic Terminations
  • Pregnancy loss, Alternative Therapies, and Healing

Individuals conducting research, making art, working in hospital or alternative birth settings, and presentations by mothers, family members, and students as well as auto-ethnographic perspectives are welcome

All submissions for this conference should be considered for submission to the Journal of Mother Studies (JourMS), an academic, peer-reviewed journal devoted to Mother Studies. You may also submit for the conference only if you wish. Abstracts must include a title and 50-150 words for individual papers, panels, and other submission types (e.g. performance, media, music). Go to MOMmuseum.org and look for the “Conference Submissions” tab or submit a word doc. to info@MOMmuseum.org by Dec. 1

The international MOM Conference is an annual event that features research, scholarship, and creative collaboration in the area of Mother Studies. Each year, the academic committee organizes university experiences that are interdisciplinary and highlight scholarship in the area of reproductive justice, maternal health, feminist theory, gender studies, literature, and the arts. The conference is organized through the Museum Of Motherhood (M.O.M.) and has partnered with multiple institutions throughout the years (2005-present), including Manhattan College, USF Tampa, Marymount Manhattan College, Columbia, ProCreate Project, Mamapalooza, and ARM now renamed MIRCI to name a few.

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Internship Opportunities at the Museum of Motherhood [Click]

Each year the Museum of Motherhood (MOM) welcomes interns from a variety of disciplines. Each internship seeks to balance individual goals and needs with those of the museum’s. Study labs, online courses, individual projects, visual displays, research, and guest docent opportunities are just a few of the ways MOM has worked with university and graduate students since 2011. Onsite and remote internships are available for the 2017 academic year. Write Director, M. Joy Rose, 538 28th St. N. St. Petersburg: info@mommuseum.org

Seeking students for extra credit lab-work with the Museum of Motherhood for six weeks, beginning October 2017. MOM is launching a new online course called Introduction to Mother Studies. This is an introduction to mothers, mothering, and motherhood through a critical lens. The class uses articles, statistics, film, media, and literature to examine the perceptions, experiences, and identity of mothers. The goal of the course is to offer students insight into evolving notions of family, while sharing a multitude of perspectives. We analyze and explore motherhood in the private as well as the social sphere where mothering is performed.

  • Time commitment approximately 3-4 hours per week for six weeks, October 1 – November 12, 2017.
  • Exit survey completion and final report
  • Participants will be invited to share their class perspectives and final projects at the annual academic MOM Conference in St. Pete/Tampa, February 15-17, 2017.

Seeking self-designed internships at the Museum of Motherhood in St. Petersburg, Florida. Students bring their passion and perspective to an individualized study program focused on mothers, fathers, and families. Create a community outreach project, launch a museum display, or conduct research on a specific topic or category. Business students and those interested in the non-profit sector also welcome.

  • Time commitment is flexible. Students have worked between 4-10 hours per week.
  • Remote or onsite opportunities available
  • Participants will be invited to share their projects at the annual academic MOM Conference in St. Pete/Tampa, February 15-17, 2017.

“….the rules of motherhood are being radically rewritten–with a snarl, cymbal crash and power E-chord that would make the lads in AC/DC stand and salute.” –USA Today

[FIND OUT MORE LINK]

Internships at the Museum of Motherhood

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“I wish I were your son” — The Unspoken Message of a Daughter to Her Father [LINK]

This week I interviewed Aarthi, a mother of two kids. We started our conversation by watching an Indian commercial ‘Ariel – #ShareTheLoad,’ which is about patriarchy and gender roles. After watching the ad film Aarthi bursted with emotion — “It’s so much true! My life is full of it. In my next birth, I want to be born as a boy.” She poured her heart out. I was just listening and it wasn’t even necessary for me to probe her with questions. Her words reflected her deep emotional disturbance and distress as she spoke. She continued talking about her childhood days. She recalled her childhood memories — “My father was never happy with me. For him, his son was his world. Even now it is. I was always an extra burden to him.” She expressed how challenging it was for her being a girl and an average performer in academics amidst her family of well-qualified doctors. She felt her thoughts were not heard — “He payed no attention to what I said even for a single moment. I was never allowed to express myself. If I did, I was silenced.”

Girls are expected to be exceptionally obedient. Obedience is used in exchange for love and care from parents. Aarthi spoke about how her father’s views demotivated her — “l was always a bit doubtful of myself. I thought that I was not good enough for anything.” I could see from her eyes the impact it made in her life. In patriarchy, a woman’s life is defined through constructed ideas, concepts, and myths denying her even basic rights, thought and expression. Her conscious and subconscious minds are conditioned to see the world around only in the way the society would like her to see.

Aarthi expressed her state of confusion on ways to support her daughter in not accepting those same limitations she had — “The only thing I am good at is being a mother—I think.” At the same time, she also expressed how difficult it is to be disloyal to her elders and consequently, the patriarch within herself. “I am not able to figure out what to answer to tell my daughter when she has questions about our cultural practices; like not to pray when having menstrual cycle or not to wear short dress, not to sit in front of men. I don’t have real answers. I still do it without having reasons. I can’t help myself having strong opinions about it.”

Throughout our conversation Aarthi kept talking a lot her relationship with her father. “Right after my marriage, my father gave all my certificates to my in-laws and said I am their property now.” Aarthi expressed her anger in the way she was treated, and her helplessness about never questioning this. It was then I realized how we rarely talk about the way in which fatherhood, particularly in terms of a father-daughter relationship — how this relationship is in many represents a patriarchal struggle. She expressed how her family ascribes to the often “father knows the best” model of parenting even though her mother is a successful doctor. Talking about her financial security, Aarthi with humor stated — “According to my parents and in-laws, this is my husband’s home since I am not working, and I don’t belong to my parents home because I am married. So, I suppose I am almost homeless.”

While talking about her mother Aarthi told — “she wanted me to be everything that she was not— a stay-at-home mom; cook, take care of family and relatives, and I tuned myself to that idea.” Sometimes, a daughter’s sympathy for mother’s plight makes her see her mother’s pain as her own. This sympathy directly prevents her ability to flourish in her own life. Thus, in this way, the mother/daughter bond is forged in an environment that keeps both stuck. Yet Aarthi is a woman of clarity and courage. She is all set to move forward with purpose and determination. “I am going to chase my dream, learn something. and help others” says Aarthi.

Women are given the crown of being the ‘ruler’ at home, which has a very functional basis. They are often captivated by the patriarchal system that sets imaginary limits on their dreams. Patriarchal power subjugates women in a multitude of ways (through force, customs, tradition, language, and laws). This system of power has permeated everything around us. Aarthi’s life experiences and the hurdles she has faced are just samples of traditional patriarchy. The world around us is changing, possibly making space for women. But the question — ‘Are families in the traditional societies open to accommodate these changing gender roles?’ still remains. With women stepping out to chase their dreams and rewriting their experiences, patriarchy is a losing battle today!

About the author: Pavithra Viswanath

Pavithra is pursuing Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a specialization in Maternal Mental Health. She is passionate about understanding critical issues within social justice movements for women, and its relationship to the modern society. She is always drawn to the narratives and experiences of women related to these issues. She believes that there is pressing need to explore the status of a woman as a mother from various dimensions such as economic status, religion, culture, and society pressure in developing countries like India. She is also in the process of completing her ‘Sexuality Women and Gender certification’. During this fall she will be interning as a Sexual assault advocate at SAKHI for South Asian Women, New York. In her free time, Pavithra enjoys cuddling with her 3-year-old daughter, reading her favorite Tamil literature or listening to music. (Keep reading below: Pavithra’s essay Modern Day Patriarchy: Experiences of Indian Mothers).

Read Pavithra Viswanath’s previous postings here #1 [LINK], #2 [LINK}. Pavithra is a digital media intern at M.O.M.

The art work is inspired by Warli paintings of India.

The art work is inspired by Warli paintings of India.

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Meet M.O.M.’s New Digital Media Intern, Pavithra Viswanath [LINK]

We are so pleased to introduce our newest digital media intern, Pavithra Viswanath.

Pavithra is pursuing Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a specialization in Maternal Mental Health. She is passionate about understanding critical issues within social justice movements for women, and its relationship to the modern society. She is always drawn to the narratives and experiences of women related to these issues. She believes that there is pressing need to explore the status of a woman as a mother from various dimensions such as economic status, religion, culture, and society pressure in developing countries like India. She is also in the process of completing her ‘Sexuality Women and Gender certification’. During this fall she will be interning as a Sexual assault advocate at SAKHI for South Asian Women, New York. In her free time, Pavithra enjoys cuddling with her 3-year-old daughter, reading her favorite Tamil literature or listening to music. (Keep reading below: Pavithra’s essay Modern Day Patriarchy: Experiences of Indian Mothers).

shakthi jailed

Modern Day Patriarchy: Experiences of Indian Mothers

 By Pavithra Viswanath

It is difficult to overlook so many years of history when dealing with the state of women and culture. The horrified memories of sati (an obsolete Hindu funeral custom where a widow immolated herself on her husband’s pyre) still linger deep inside each one of us. Women are often compared to the goddess ‘Shakthi’ who is believed to be the embodiment of ultimate power. Perhaps, this notion of uncontrollable power invites the fear on women. I think this fear on women’s power created the social and moral structures to impose controls on them in the name of patriarchy.

In traditional societies like India, a woman is treated like a commodity and transferred from her father to her husband as an exchange through marriage. This marriage institution has helped to maintain social cohesion, social order and status quo in patriarchal power structures. Also, the marriage is presented as the pinnacle of a woman’s achievement. The cultural identity of a married women then becomes all about being a wife, a mother, a subordinate to her husband and his family. It doesn’t stop there. She has to forbear morals, obedience, chastise, cultural traditions and family unity and finally pass the same to her daughters. Thus, mothers unconsciously or consciously play an important role in the creation of gender differences and become a carrier of patriarchy. In the modern day the benevolent patriarchy that is imposed on women has not vanished entirely but only a shade different. The fact that women have accepted and internalized the patriarchal notions does not relieve them from the burdens of patriarchy. It just opens up more choices for the system to subordinate them. This interview series is an attempt to unravel the hidden stories behind the sustenance of patriarchy. It explores the roles of mothers, their beliefs, views and experiences of conflicts that are generated from patriarchal family ideologies.

Watch out for my interview with an Indian mom every week. Through these interviews, I will be sharing my learnings with an art work inspired from the interview and associated Indian culture.