Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Love pedantry? Try this on for size!

(... if not, just skip to the miscellany and gratuitous WonderBaby photo at the end. It's okay. I'll understand.)


“The Public Mother: Motherhood and Citizenship in Political Thought”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ‘Emile; Or, On Education’ was the first work of modern political philosophy to examine the raising of children as a fundamentally political exercise. However, although Rousseau argues in the Emile that the work of mothers serves an important political end – the creation of good citizens – he, like most other political philosophers ancient and modern, nevertheless regards this work, and the lives of mothers generally, as essentially private. Mothers, according to Rousseau, make the greatest contribution to public life in bearing and raising children, but making this public contribution seems to require that they remain outside of the public sphere.

This paper will consider how these arguments, and those of other ancient and modern political philosophers, have shaped our understanding of motherhood and the role of mothers in the public sphere. Does good citizenship require good motherhood? Does good motherhood require a retreat – in whole or in part – from public life? Can good motherhood and good citizenship be squared differently: can public mothering (for example, participating in public discourse about mothering, by involvement in traditional public spheres such as politics, or by writing or creating art about mothering) create a bridge between the exigencies of the home as the nurturing-place of citizens and the exigencies of lived citizenship in a public sphere? And, finally, can the arguments of canonical political philosophers help women navigate contemporary debates (per Hirshman, Flanagan, et. al.) over the impact of women’s choices concerning work and family on the family and community?


Bored yet? No? Really?

Okay then. If the above doesn’t bore you silly, then you might be interested in this: I’m presenting a paper – that prattle pasted above is the abstract for said paper – at the Motherlode conference this Friday. It’s extension of my formal academic work on women and mothers in the history of political philosophy – omg YAWN – and although the abstract probably sounds all stuffy and academonically pretenshus and all, I’m actually thinking that it will be kinda fun. And! I’ll be dragging blogging into the discussion! Where I say ‘participating in public discourse about motherhood’? 'writing or creating art about mothering'? That is, among other things, academic code for blogging. So this is where I really get to play around with confusing the boundaries of my own private and public activities. Could be interesting. Could be, like, totally, self-referentially post-modern. Could be mind-freezingly, butt-numbingly boring, but I doubt that. I'll make some jokes, and will very possibly interrupt my own academic blather with some mild cursing, to make sure.

I’m thinking about posting some or all of my presentation – the whole paper would probably numb your brain unnecessarily – on Friday (meta! meta!), but I haven’t decided yet. It might be too much boundary-blurring for one week, a week in which I will also be lecturing to undergraduates about Rousseau on women and the family, which will almost certainly compel me to publicly wax philosophic about WonderBaby and how WonderBaby proves absolutely Rousseau’s claims that babies tend naturally toward tyranny and that mothers are generally very likely to end up bitch-slapped by said tyrannical babies.

So, yeah. We’ll see.

(If you are in Toronto, you can come and see me in action. I have been known to be marginally entertaining when speaking at conferences. I posted details here.)

*******

And, because we all loves us a little miscellany:

1) WonderBaby is, it seems, fine now. I appended an update on her condition, and on the precise character of the WTF mystery object, to my last post. Thank you, all, for your supportive words and your very creative suggestions about The Object That Is Not (Formally) A Sex Toy. (C3P0's penis. Butt plug. Pickle juicer. Ancient Aztec fertility idol. Pod whence came WonderBaby. Nicely done.)

2) The Crazy Babby Resource Page, which is now overdue according to my own psychic calendar, is currently under development. I hope to get it up this weekend.

3) My beloved Sweetney and the ever-imperial Amalah have a new project and it is just the thing for those autumnal bloggy blahs. Now with more cowbell. Check it.

4) Mrs. Chicky has also been whipping up cures for the momospheric blues. It's a Very Special Chicky Love Cure (not tested on animals), and as I am nothing if not a proponent of unfettered love-spreading, I must insist that you participate.

5) The Basement has been really, really quiet these days. It’s a slow, reflective time for many of us, I know, so it’s to be expected. Just remember that it’s there, if you need to get anything off of your chest. There's always someone there to listen.

6) Speaking of chests, mine is gone. Poof. Vanished into the post-breastfeeding air. Anybody seen it? Will it ever come back? I know, love something - 36DDDs - set it free - stop breastfeeding - if it comes back it was yours - doesn't a drawerful of jumbo catch-and-release nursing bras prove ownership? - if it doesn't, it never was - well, fuck you then, stupid, faithless titties.



WonderBaby does not recommend pilfering local playrooms for chest-enhancing implements. WonderBaby says that toilet paper has a more realistic feel.

48 Comments:

Blogger metro mama said...

I'd be interested in the whole paper. I'm sorry I won't be able to make it Thursday. I might have skipped school, but I have a test that night.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

But wait, did I miss it somehow? What was the non sex toy pickle holder thing?

7:24 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Oh and I'm glad WB is back to her usual self. And good luck at the conference.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Melissa - I revealed the Object in an addendum to the last post. It's a Banana Bunker.

Julie - I'm actually on on Friday, 5 - 7pm...

7:40 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Yes please - do post as much of your presentation as you feel like sharing. I'm definitely interested.

And I'm glad that WonderBaby is fine. As for those 36DDDs - who needs 'em when you've got fabulous pasties?

7:59 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

i want proof of your boob-less-ness. come let me fondle you

8:08 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I'm glad Wonder Baby is better. That's scary. And that last pictue - she's growing up!!! Too cute.
As for the shrinking chest ... I'll trade you! I went from a respectable size to HUGE. And, no matter the exercises I do I sware they keep growing.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Momish said...

Ok, I am sad I don't live anywhere near Toronto, because I would love to hear it all in person, live. It is exactly the type of discourse and philosophical inquiry I am missing in my life right now. So, at the very least, please post as much of it as you can. I started to hyperventilate over the abstract alone! I am glad WB is well again! I don't know, but somehow I totally missed the pickle/sex toy thing. Bummer.

8:44 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Those 36DDs? They come back again (you know how, and under what conditions), but they're not yours. And when they go away again, their goneness is that much more emphatic.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Plain Jane Mom said...

'stupid, faithless titties' made me snort mai tai out my nose...

9:02 PM  
Blogger Mamalooper said...

Yes to the paper! :::::post modernism...swoon::::::

And if I want to scoot down to the Marriott and crash said talk, can I just show up and proffer my loonies in person to get in?

Glad to hear that WB is okay. From what Monkeygirl's pediatrician said, if they are lethargic, you wil sooooo know it. It is far beyond just being under the weather.

9:20 PM  
Blogger lara said...

oh my goodness, that is totally the kind of meta, pedantic, uber-snobby academic jargon i find fascinating - please do share!

... hmmm, i realized that sounds like i'm being sarcastic. but i'm not, i'm actually nerdy enough that i do find it fascinating. cheer me up - share your nerdiness with us!

9:38 PM  
Anonymous krista said...

So Rousseau argues our work as mothers is important to further good future citizens, but that essentially this is a job to be done in the private sphere.

THEN he goes and says that "babies tend naturally toward tyranny and that mothers are generally very likely to end up bitch-slapped by said tyrannical babies"

No wonder we have to work so hard (and in isolation to boot!)

We have to turn the damn tyrants into GOOD citizens.

(If I could smirk now I would)

I would love to come see you in action but I don't get off work until 5pm and damnit, it would take me more than an hour to get down their in the rush hour traffic at that time.

Bugger.

If you don't want to blur your boundaries too much but want to share your presentation you know my email address- I am very interested.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous K said...

um yeah. what jennster said.

That's my new thing now. In fact, I'm just going to write a post - "yeah, what jennster said"

girlfriend always nails it on the head - at least when it comes to boobs :)

10:20 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Hey, is that the beginning of HAIR I see on Wonderbaby's head? I think it is. Maybe that's what all the sickness was about - a reaction, not to a growth spurt, teething, or sickness, but to the sudden springing of hair from her head.

:)

Sorry to hear about the boobage. You'll always have the mammaries, ahem, memories of what once was.

10:35 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Ah, I cried when after weaning I first caught sight of my deflated bosom, but the breasts, they staged a comeback and are nearly what they were. I'm hoping Bub is wrong up there that a second would ruin all hope. I don't need to hear that when I'm still debating!

And not only did I have that same jumper for pumpkinpie, but I want to know where you got the balls because I've already got the pool and am hunting for balls to fill it with!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'd like to see as much of your presentation as you feel comfortable posting. Sounds interesting to me. I'd love to go to the entire conference and sit there and soak in as many presentations as possible, but it isn't possible.

And the boobs can come back, but it requires another sacrifice to the fertility goddess.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

I'm glad that WonderBaby is feeling better from the mystery illness. She is getting so big!

A Banana Bunker? That's definitely weird, but I liked the C3PO theory best.

Thanks for keeping the Basement open. Just knowing it's there helps sometimes.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I lost my boobs after bf too but I started out with a B cup so don't feel too bad!

Good luck with your presentation. I would attend if I lived in your country :)

1:30 AM  
Blogger dodo said...

Toronto? no, sadly. Podcast? hmm?

I was relieved to loose the excess boobidge post bf. Went back down to 36FF. If I took a bath I was blinded as they tried to float up around my ears.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Krista - Rousseau ACTUALLY says that mothers can't be trusted to do the hard work of turning tyrants into citizens, precisely because they are bitch-slapped. A 'good' mother loves her child and teaches her child how to love, but all that gooey love turns mama into a pussy who can't reliably say no. Good fathers, too, become pussies. (Pussyness, I should add, must be understood, for Rousseau, to be vastly superior to the deep selfishness that was more the norm in his day - children were ignored, handed over to wet nurses, etc.) So a true education in citizenship requires a neutral tutor, who is immune to the tyrants charms and and string enough to resist his/her force.

Obviously, this isn't tenable for most households, so there's much more to what makes a household a good breeding ground for decent citizens. But that's the fast answer.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, and Kittenpie? The ball-filled pool isn't ours - it was at a birthday party we attended. WonderBaby WOULD NOT GET OUT. Might need to put one together ourselves - I can find out the source of the balls, if you like.

And, yes, Madame Chicky, that is indeed hair. More than appears, actually. Still not enough for a barrette, but it's there.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I NEVER got those big boobs I was promised so while I feel for your loss I am still kind of jealous.
That banana thing has changed the was I view your site forever.

9:51 AM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

Do post your presentation, as it is the only way most of us will be privvy.
I gotta say, I think that your presentation, and many of the others at motherlode, would be fascinating, but I'm not impressed at how much the conference costs. I am absolutely not holding you in any way responsible, but it's too bad these things seem to be for privileged moms only.

10:01 AM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

cor! the paper sounds fascinating--lurve it. good luck!
oh, and sorry to hear about your boobies. we all hear you on that score...

10:25 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I feel so good when I see pics of Wonderbaby. It's wonderful to know that my daughter wasn't abnormal in the sproutage of hair. She didn't suffer her first hair cut until well past her third birthday.

(And then she discovered the joys of scissors and continually snipped at her own locks until age eight. Good times...)

And your shrinking boobage? Ha! I never even got past A cups when I was nursing, now they seem to have inverted themselves, post milk-production and years later.

Wonderbaby is on to something with the whole toiletpaper idea...

11:42 AM  
Blogger soleclaw said...

I'm so glad to hear Wonderbaby is better. Rashes are so scary. E had one about a month ago that looked like tiny red pimples all over her neck and torso. We got the same speech from the doc. It went away within days, no big deal. I hate when doctors say they don't know what's going on with ones child. I want to shout, "What? You don't know?! So what are you a doctor of exactly?"

I can't believe there's another baby out there who has less hair than E! E's hair is still so baby fine that it sticks straight up and will not hold a baby barette for anything.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

The paper sounds very interesting! I won't bore anyone with the abstract to MY dissertation...

But I would love to see the paper, maybe a link to it?

1:38 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I'd love to see the paper, too. I imagine sociologists will have a field day with the blogs women left behind 100 years from now ... if they don't get lost in the ethosphere.

3:06 PM  
Blogger DD said...

TP may feel more realistic, but the crinkling noise can be disconcerting.

And just how many DDDs can one put after a bra size without it going to an F?

3:09 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

I was small to begin with, and now I am practically non-existent. I think I'm concave actually. It's so sad!

You can get balls like that at Walmart and "snapUPtoys" at Vaughan Mills shopping centre.

I'd love to read the whole paper, so please do consider posting it!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Dutch said...

you are a one-woman community machine. . . .every time I try to comment I get overwhelmed by the wave of love.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I admit I skipped down to the photo because I had pedantry and also I'm feeling particularly lazy today. Then, I thought the title said: the PUBIC Woman, so I almost changed my mind.

Great photo, though! :)

7:45 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

The Pubic Woman, or Pubic Mother, is probably a much more interesting paper.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

If we were anywhere nearby, I'd bring Mama and 3B. It would be a hot date for us. So yeah, we're dorks like that. Kick some ass, and definitely post details.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Wish I could be there to hear you speak. Please share what you can - I'm sure it will be a hot topic!

Good luck! Look forward to the recap! Ruth

9:06 PM  
Blogger Gidge said...

Good luck on the presentation (or is it more appropriate to say BREAK A LEG?).

I need one of those neutral tutors......I'm either psycho tyrant or completely cool whip in my kids hands.....

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

As WB gets older, she looks even more like her mama.

It would be wrong to call a baby "hawt", right?

Okay then, she's looking lovely and quite a bit like her mum :)

11:30 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

I'd love to see your presentation in its entirety. You're going to kick ass!

And the boobies -- whatever are we going to entertain ourselves with NOW at Blogher??

12:22 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

Say hi to MojoMom, who is also going to that conference!

10:48 AM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

Interesting topic for a paper. In a much less philosophical or elevated sense, I have been thinking about related issues a bit. To wit - why do I rankle when I learn that the author whose reading I have attended has a full time live in nanny? One who will get up with the little ones in the middle of the night if need be? One who takes the kids to the park near editor/author-mom's office so she can sneak out and see them on days she's going out for dinner and will thus miss the kids before bedtime?

Is her life in the public sphere not as elevated to me? Am I just jealous that I don't have her life in NYC, with nanny, fancy shoes and a high powered job? Would I like her better if she was home with the kids while writing her novels? Would I like her better if she was at work but the nanny was only around during the day, so that I knew that she, like me, was burdened with night soothing, early rising, etc? Why do I want her to fit a private world model, yet ache a little for her life?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

I know you wrote some serious meta shit on me and everything, but I read the part about you loosing your boobies (which, btw, I had just answered you on my blog comments and now what? Do I have to retract that statement?

But I read that part aloud to my mother who was sitting next to me and almost peed my pants. You slay me. Soooo funny.

Also? You're on my Favorite Canuck List now. It's been corrected. ;-)

10:35 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

oooh, i love butt numbing self referential stuff. Have fun at Motherlode!

9:43 AM  
Blogger m said...

I've only recently started reading your blog (I know, late to the party!) but this post has sealed it: I'll be a regular reader from now on. I'd love to read your paper. I've been thinking about very similar things lately myself.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Yawn? Yawn? Shut up, woman - I'm captivated. These are questions I hadn't really thought about before and now my brain is realing. Unfortunately I have so few operational brain cells these days, I'll have to rely on your conclusions and then I can just nod and back you up.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good heavens you're funny and smart! It was a pleasure to read your blog - I'll stop by again.

4:21 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Sounds like your paper will be an interesting read. Look forward to seeing it or your excerpts.

As for the miscellany, re (1) I'm glad WonderBaby is back to her healthy wonderfulness; and re (6) I have to admit, I'm the complete opposite. I went from an A to a C with my first pregnancy and could not wait to get rid of them. Absolutely hated them; I'm fairly thin (when I'm not pg) and they made it difficult to find tops that fit me decently. I'm now creeping up towards size C again with my current pregnancy and am quite annoyed about the whole thing. They're must not me!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

I am yet another vote for seeing the whole paper. I decided to take a French Lit class (for fun...ha...crazy me.) to restimulate my mushy mommy mind. We just finished Rousseau.

10:20 PM  

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