MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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A Mothers’ Breastfeeding Struggles Are Not Her Fault – Blame Society

By Dee Merrit

Mothers are warriors.

If you look back on the history of birth in the U.S., 95% of infants were born at home with midwives. Promptly after birth, the child was placed on the mothers’ breast to nurse. Today, many women seem to doubt their ability to give birth naturally and breastfeed. Often society does little to support them.

Many women desire to breastfeed and though the rates have slowly been rising research shows there is still a decrease in breastfeeding rates from birth to one-year. A quick google search will show you why there is a decrease. What is not listed amidst the CDC research is how women have been taught to not trust their bodies.

In America, it is more common (and comfortable) to see women advertised in lingerie and skimpy clothing. At the same time, a woman nursing in public can publicly shamed or experience feelings of discomfort, or be judged critically. Nursing mothers are still evicted from public spaces, restaurants, and they encounter rude comments when strangers express they do not want their child(ren) exposed to breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding is what our bodies are designed to do, it can be awkward and has been referred to as something to be socially discreet about.

As a mother of three boys, I would rather have them grow up knowing breasts have a purpose. Women’s bodies are uniquely formed to feed babies and also to comfort them. Additionally, nursing a newborn helps with psychological development (and so many more other beneficial things).

In some communities, mothers have access to breastfeeding help through groups like La Leche, as well as breastfeeding cafes and mother support groups. Still, some mothers struggle. It could be that many mothers continue to get false information from health care professionals who are not educated about lactation, and though health care professionals mean well, they sometimes insinuate that mothers should not trust their bodies.

All breastfeeding mothers should have access to local references from lactation professionals and be free of cruelty and judgment. If an advisor is not available, then there are other ways to connect to professional consultants including email, phone, and video chat. Unfortunately, these options are not always promoted. Many health care professionals unintentionally perpetuate myths about breastfeeding. For example, I have heard of women being told that breastfeeding can hurt; NO! Breastfeeding should not hurt! If it does, then it is a signal that something may be wrong and the nursing mother should seek help from an IBCLC. There are so many myths that continue to be perpetuated. Here are a few listed online courtesy of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF [LINK].

Even with available resources, some mothers of young children struggle just getting out of the house. They’re tired, overwhelmed, and are dealing with a  mixed bag of emotions. If they have a messy house on top of that, they may not want to entertain visitors. Believe me, no one coming to support or assist a mother with nursing is spending their energy judging a messy home. (My own kitchen has been not been cleaned since I had my first son 8 years ago and yet, I continued to have more children)!

In this shared graph from Katie Hinde, an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University, and a researcher of lactation, she shares on this brief clip on Ted Talks what little we know about breastmilk compared to other subjects.

She shares this powerful message, “Many mothers do not reach their breastfeeding goals, that is not their failure, it’s ours.”

Do nursing mothers have rights? Yes, they do. But in 2019 some mothers still struggle with being told they can not nurse in public. As recently as this summer, a woman in Texas was told she could not nurse her baby at the public pool. Even though this mother knew hew rights, this issue escalated quickly and police were called to the scene. A breastfeeding mother has rights for a reason. These rights should not only be known by mothers but by public servants as well. Government employees as well as other facilities that say they support breastfeeding mothers need to be required to read and understand breastfeeding rights for customers, as well as their employees. This can vary from state to state. Mothers nursing in public helps to expose the general public to an infant’s needs as well as the very natural act of maternal nursing.

Even though some people in the general public may be hurtful, many other breastfeeding advocates will support you. We are mothers, we have the right to feed our babies as we choose, and we will not be silenced for choosing to breastfeed whenever and wherever our child is hungry outside the home.

Sources:
https://sites.google.com/site/historyofchildbirthinamerica/historical-resources/historical-timeline
https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/nis_data/results.html
https://www.unicef.org/parenting/food-nutrition/14-myths-about-breastfeeding
https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/11/health/texas-breastfeeding-pool-trnd/index.html

Deann’s Other Blogs at MOM: 

Why Don’t IBLCLCs And Dentists Agree
How Income and Insurance Can Affect Breastfeeding Support For New Moms
Breastfeeding Education Might Not Be What You Think It Is
Gender Disappointment

Recent Press: Cayuga News about Dee Merrit at MOM

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Muttererde & The Language of Class

Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor Muttererde (2017) Video

Muttererde profiles conversations with five black femmes on the knowledge and non-knowledge of their mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and as far back as the knowledge carries them to create a rich and powerful archive on ancestry.  They explore themes of motherhood, migration, cultural differences, beauty standards, queerness, kinship, death and rebirth. Their stories, although from five different countries, intertwine to weave a tapestry of herstory through the African diaspora. Through their testimonies, the viewer discovers that ritual, memory and oral history can challenge the status quo.

This work, made in collaboration with filmmaker Astrid Gleichmann, features the stories of Camalo Gaskin, Tobi Ayedadjou, Niv Acosta, Natalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro and Fannie Sosa. It has been supported by the Decentralized Cultural Work Tempelhof-Schöneberg, District Kunst und Kulturforderung Berlin and A Prima Vista Filmproduktion. Posted in partnership with the Museum of Motherhood, Procreate Project and the Mom Egg Review.

 Artist Biography

Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1984, Florida) is a multidisciplinary artist and community organizer. Her roots are in the Southern United States, born in Mississippi and raised in Florida. Taylor’s work manifests through performance, text, dialogue, dance and community building for Black People and People of Colour. She is chiefly concerned with ways to dismantle oppressive institutions and the creation of racial equity in art and cultural institutions. She has performed and presented at the Barbican Centre of Art (London, UK); Chisenhale Gallery (London, UK); Hebbel Am Ufer (Berlin, Germany); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, Germany); Sophiensaele Theater (Berlin, Germany);  The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo, Norway); Rogaland Kunstsenter (Stavanger, Norway); and the Irish Museum for Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland). She is currently undergoing a Master of Art in Black British Literature at Goldsmiths University of London.

VIDEO TRAILER

LANGUAGE CLASS

Kimberly L. Becker, (written on Qualla Boundary; for C.M.)

Little by little

we are reclaiming the words

Just as the land was once large,

so, too, our voice

Some words lost on the Trail

have been found

They lived hidden in baskets,

in pockets, in the very tassels of corn

(Selu, Selu)

Now the words live again

See? When I say nogwo it is now,

both the now of then and the now

of not yet

The words work secret medicine

and strong, forming us

from the inside out

Language is our Magic Lake–

we walk in limping with loss

and emerge wholly ourselves

When Cecilia speaks

she bears with her

the future of these sounds

Listen: her voice is soft, but sure

Originally published in The Mom Egg Vol. 8 Lessons, 2010

The Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a bi-monthly international exchange of ideas and art. M.A.M.A. will celebrate the notion of being “pregnant with ideas” in new ways. This scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the creative, the academic, the para-academic, the digital, and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. Download the Press Release here or read about updated initiatives#JoinMAMA  @ProcreateProj  @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg

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CFP (MOM Conference 2020) Embedded in SEWSA, USF St Pete

(USF) Women and Gender Studies is pleased to host the 2020 SEWSA Annual Conference in Tampa Bay, Florida, St. Petersburg Campus Location. The Annual MOM Conference Panels will be embedded within this conference.

Call For Papers on the subject of Mother Studies within the topic of “Embodying Disobedience, Crafting Affinities” please go to the application link and direct your inquiry to Michelle Hughes Miller who will be facilitating the organization of MOM Conference panels.

This year’s theme—figures embodiment and diverse lived experiences as the lifeblood of resistant politics and the livelihood of building alliances across our many differences. The theme echoes the broader mission of the interdisciplinary field of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS). With its distinctive blend of research, programming, teaching, and advocacy, WGS questions conventional wisdom, challenges the status quo, critiques intersecting gendered, sexual, and racialized inequities and injustices, and strives to create social change for more equitable, ethical, and just futures.

Our theme takes special inspiration from the work of feminists of color and their allies— including early abolitionists like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, civil rights activists such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, and Rosa Parks, groups such as the Combahee River Collective, writers and teachers like Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Mitsuye Yamada, Cherrie Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldua, The Movement for Black Lives, founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the #sayhername campaign, the reproductive justice movement, and the work of researchers and theorists such as bell hooks, Angela Davis, Kimberle Crenshaw, Lila Abu-Lughod, Emma Perez, Saidiya Hartman, Gayatri Spivak, Dean Spade, Jasbir Puar, Fred Moten, C. Riley Snorton, and the late Saba Mahmood, among many, many others. The work of these scholar-activists is a source of critical insight into the workings of what the Combahee River Collective called interlocking systems of oppression, and a reminder that disobeying unjust state logics and challenging administrative and other forms of violence is literally a matter of life and death, more so for some populations than for others. For this reason, so too do these trailblazing and cutting-edge activists and scholars prompt us to recall the imperatives of self-reflexivity, critical positionality, and situated knowledges in confronting inequality and injustice from a variety of intersectional and transnational perspectives.

In these ways and others, our theme invites a wide range of interdisciplinary critical engagements with the body politics of disobedience. How, for instance, do different forms and modes of racialized and gendered embodiment inform strategies of disobedience to state regulation, the criminalization and dispossession of multiply- marginalized populations, and the ongoing upward redistribution of wealth and resources under neoliberalism? At the same time, the theme invites consideration of how to better craft stronger and more capacious affinities between counterhegemonic projects, for example, between The Movement for Black Lives, disability justice activism, struggles for indigenous decolonization, trans and intersex rights, prison abolition, and intersectional feminist, queer, and anti-racist research and activism. “Embodying Disobedience, Crafting Affinities,” then, seeks to emphasize the continuing import of multi-issue politics in efforts to move beyond commodified notions of allyship towards relations of radical solidarity and mutual interdependence.

In the current historical moment we are witnessing unprecedented interest in feminism and a resurgence of activism in the same space as increasing white nationalist, anti-trans, anti-immigrant, and anti-choice rhetoric, policy, and legislation. In such a climate, this year’s SEWSA takes the opportunity to draw insight and inspiration from the past and chart a course toward different, hopefully more just—and perhaps also more queer— futures. As 2020 marks the 59th quadrennial presidential election, the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and the fiftieth anniversary of the first women’s studies program, we want to remember the ways in which women’s studies has linked theory to practice, not only to transform the present but also to know the past differently and to imagine and create a world beyond it. Women’s studies, from its inception, ranged across the disciplines, found resources where it could in the name of survival and resilience, and insisted on forms of interdisciplinary inquiry that today demand questions of gender, race, and sexuality to disrupt the naturalized status quo. Women’s and Gender Studies, at its best, embodies disobedience—to the disciplines, reigning ideas of sex and gender, the nation, racial capitalism, and single-issue politics—while simultaneously fighting to craft political and intellectual affinities that will make a difference in the world.

We invite proposals that envision and examine diverse ways of embodying disobedience and crafting affinities across a wide range of theories, practices, and contexts. All disciplines, methodologies, and styles of presentation are welcome, and from students and scholars at all levels.

Possible presentation topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • The history, current state, and future of feminist, LGBTQ+, and anti-racist activisms
  • Political participation and movement building leading up to the 2020 U.S. election
  • Linkages between Black Lives Matter, disability justice activism, immigrant rights, and trans and intersex mobilization for self-determination and bodily integrity
  • The uses of anger (in Audre Lorde and beyond)
  • Politics and affect (outrage, repugnance, disgust, humor, pride, envy, loss)
  • Scholar-activist coalitions
  • Settler colonialism and decolonial feminist resistance, especially within
    Caribbean and diasporic feminisms
  • Increasing women, POC, and LGBTQ+ political representation
  • Possibilities and limitations of the #MeToo movement
  • Challenges to Title IX under the Trump Administration
  • Humanitarianism and neoliberalism
  • Digital media and activism
  • Interdisciplinary public scholarship in the era of “fake news”
  • Feminist and queer performance studies as disobedience
  • Afro-Latina identities and politics
  • Black feminist leadership and social movements
  • Disability studies: pedagogies and politics
  • Fat studies, embodiment, and activism
  • Trans and intersex studies and public policy

Session Types and Instructions:

Individual presentation proposals: 200-word proposal

Panel presentation proposals: 3-4 presenters, 600-word proposal (We strongly
encourage panel proposals from graduate and undergraduate students.)

Roundtable proposals: 6-8 presenters, 8-10-minutes each; can include works-in-
progress/slow science (600-word proposal)

Proposal submission deadline is December 6, 2019 and proposals should be submitted to: SEWSA SUBMISSIONS LINK. If you have a proposal idea that is not listed above, such as a performance piece or art submission, email conference staff at sewsa@usf.edu to discuss options. Any additional questions can be forwarded to INFO@MOMmuseum.org

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Sociology Opens Our Eyes to New Ways of Seeing the World!

This summer, extreme weather rocks America and pundits debate while August arrives all too quickly. Since July 1st, accounting majors, economics majors, and students of literature have been increasing their knowledge and vocabulary about important issues that affect us all by studying sociology. These students are hard at work exploring theoretical assertions about race, class, and gender in an online summer intensive Introduction to Sociology course, specifically framed around the Sociology of Family.

Using texts that explore gestation, birth, and caregiving, authors Barbara Katz Rothman, Phyllis Chesler, Patricia Hill Collins, and Keisha Goode (to name a few), explore women’s experiences, racial disparities, and gendered labor. This week, we read the latest media stories on wombs, trans-birth, uterus transplants, and self-identified men as mothers. We have all been scrambling for new definitions and fresh ways of thinking about gestation as well as parenting.

As part of a service-learning portion of an Intro to Sociology class, students were asked to take a piece of construction paper or plain white paper and mark in bold words a minimum of 5 words that best describe “mother” and “father”. We have been complicating those basic notions ever since.

Thinking about the authors we are studying assert about biology and gender, coupled with recent medical and policy developments, motherhood is more complicated than ever! The students were invited to revisit their original posters and articulate some of the information that has influenced their perspective in recent weeks. Some of their notes are below:

Words Added:

–       Gender Neutral:

·      The readings from this week highlighted the problems associated with gendered parenting

·       Mothers struggle with work because of the perception that they are obligated to care for their home and children

·       Men do not feel obligated to do any parenting work but feel an overwhelming obligation to provide economically for their families

·      Both genders are equally capable of parenting in the form of motherhood and fatherhood

·      everyone including children would be better off if parental duties were split equally

·      All other words on the poster represent things my mother, grandparents, and stepfather did and that I wish my father had participated in

·      Not parenting is a personal choice not a gendered choice

–       Parent:

·      Added for reasons listed above

·      Parent should imply the same duties regardless of the parent’s gender

       Present:

·      Being present is an essential part of parenthood that I did not think about until I watched “Glen Henry got his Superpowers Through Fatherhood”

–       Care:

·      “Mothering is most likely done by a female due to our society’s definition of the word ‘mother.’ The action of mothering however is simply caring for another.” [Castaneda and Oware]

–       Guide

–       Educate

·      Guide and educate were both terms I did not think to put until I though in the context of parenthood rather than motherhood

·      Gendered expectations affect us all and are very pervasive

Assertion Statement:

Replace motherhood and fatherhood with parenthood

Father
• Tenderhearted
• Empathetic
• Compassionate
• Honest
• Supportive
• Sacrificing
• Wise
“A healthier masculinity can only be achieved if we acknowledge that “Tough” and “Strong” aren’t the only 2 characteristics men can be.”

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News From Around the World with MoM Partners in ART

Ruchika Wason Singh  
Visual Artist- Independent Researcher

Ruchika is the founder of A.M.M.A.A., Asia’s first platform for Mother Artists. She is a visiting professor at Ashoka University in Sonipat, India. We are sharing the Book of Drawing Marathon here in PDF Format. Please go to Ruchika’s website to find out more:

Ruchika Wason Singh

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Also, the Procreate Project in England is proud to present a group exhibition featuring twenty short-listed artists of the Mother Art Prize 2018, the only international prize for self-identifying women and non-binary visual artists with caring responsibilities. The exhibition at Mimosa House, London will be curated by independent curator Marcelle Joseph, Zabludowicz Collection director Elizabeth Neilson, and Whitechapel Gallery curator Laura Smith. Find out more at Procreate Project online.
Mimosa House
12 Princes Street
London W1B 2LL

Events are May 3- May 16th

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The Mom Egg Review is hosting the MER launch at Poet’s House on May 18th from 4-6 PM in New York City, NY. Link for more information is here.

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Got Milk? Why Breastfeeding and Breast Milk Matters

Breastfeeding education and support for new mothers is an important ongoing issue. There are many decisions and questions regarding breastfeeding versus formula feeding. A few of those include: should you alternate between both bottle and breast, how long should you breastfeed over time, what type of latching-on techniques should you use, when is the time to start pumping, how should you store pumped milk, etc.?

As a new parent, one’s lactation questions can be endless. Why is breastfeeding important? Why should parents care?

There are many reasons why breast milk is regarded as the highest form of nutrition infants can obtain. Mothers pass important nutritional antibodies through breast milk that have been observed to benefit overall infant health. Breastfeeding potentially lessens the occurrence of long-term health conditions, such as the prevalence of obesity, type II diabetes, SIDS, gastrointestinal infections and asthma. Mothers also benefit, as breastfeeding promotes a natural way to rebalance hormones and maintain weight loss after pregnancy. Long-term health benefits also include reduced risk of female endocrine-related cancers, such as breast or ovarian cancer, high blood pressure and type II diabetes. In the US, it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively at least up to 6 months after birth. However, average statistics have shown only 1 in 4 women does so.

Student practicing with a breastfeeding doll at MOM

Despite the bonding benefits of breastfeeding and the positive health outcomes nursing may have for both mom and baby, the decision to nurse is not always an easy one. Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is personal and unique. Often, individuals require support and guidance through the post-birth journey. Sometimes problems arise. Women can experience lactating difficulties, latch issues, sometimes health concerns or pre-existing conditions prevent the possibility of breastfeeding, and women who experience mastitis are often confused about how to proceed.

In the Tampa Bay area, support can be found at many local organizations including the Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force. The Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force is a nonprofit organization that hosts events for breastfeeding activism, they also provide support and answers to questions via their social media and website platforms. Events such as Breastfeeding Friendly Daycare Training, promote their #TBBreastfeeds and the Breastfeeding Normalization Campaign. TBB is also known partners in advocacy efforts with the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, which provides support for breastfeeding as well as promoting state recommended resources for those needing more information. Their mission “is to improve the health of Floridians by working collaboratively to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.”

If you are in need of professional assistance or are looking for more information, the La Leche League of Florida and the Caribbean Isles connects volunteers with lactation consultants and local nursing mothers’ groups. The Tampa Breastfeeding and Lactation Center LLC or Breastfeeding Care and Consulting, run by Jocelyn Pridemore also offers consultations for new mothers. Different services are available at a variety of prices from high to low. Additionally, if you are seeking access to breast milk, check out charitable organizations such as Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida, which is dedicated disseminating pasteurized donor milk to those in need. They also welcome donations of breast milk. Please spread the word!

If you are interested here is an additional link to some helpful breastfeeding techniques:

https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/breastfeeding-your-baby

Article info sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/index.htm

https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding

https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding

Web Links to Local Orgs and Lactation Specialists

Tampa Breastfeeding and Lactation Center LLC: https://www.breastfeedtampa.com/

Breastfeeding Care and Consulting with Jocelyn Pridemore: http://breastfeedingcareandconsulting.com/

The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition: http://www.flbreastfeeding.org/

The Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force: http://www.tbbreastfeeding.org/

La Leche League of Florida and the Caribbean Isles: http://www.lllflorida.com/lalecheleague/

Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida: https://milkbankofflorida.org/

Breastfeeding at M.O.M.

This article was researched and made possible by Alexandra Valdes as part of a service-learning internship with USF. Read more below or click the image to find out more about our student authors: