Matricentric Feminism: A Feminism for Mothers

Andrea O'Reilly

Abstract


The aim of this article is to introduce a mother-centred mode of feminism—what I have called “matricentric feminism”—to consider the context and challenges of a mother-centred feminist theory and politics, and to suggest directions for future research. Motherhood, it could be said, is the unfinished business of  feminism. Matricentric feminism seeks to make motherhood the business of feminism by positioning mothers’ needs and  concerns as the starting point for a theory and politics on and for women’s empowerment. This repositioning is not to suggest that a matricentric feminism should replace traditional feminist thought; rather, it is to emphasize that the category of mother is distinct from the category of woman and that many of the  problems mothers face—social, economic, political, cultural, psychological, and so forth—are specific to women’s roles and  identity as mothers. Indeed, mothers are oppressed under patriarchy as women and as mothers. Consequently, mothers need a matricentric mode of feminism organized from and for their particular identity and work as mothers. Indeed, a mother-centred feminism is needed because mothers—arguably more so than women in general—remain disempowered despite forty years of feminism. My work does not rationalize or defend the need for a mother-centred feminism, as it takes it as a given. Instead, this article endeavours to describe and discuss this mode of mother-focused feminism, which has emerged as a result of and in response to women’s specific identities and
work as mothers.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.