vol 09 - 1983

Five years ago Feminist Studies designed an issue on the theme of motherhood, a topic that has appeared in some form or another in almost every issue before or since. With this issue, and without any preconceived planning on the part of the editors, the question of motherhood once again occupies a central position in the journal. If the articles we have gathered together in volume 9, number 2, are representative of the current concerns of the women's movement, it would seem that beneath the surface of increased cultural attention to baby making, feminists are quietly reassessing motherhood. Our musings may signal a subtle but consequential shift in our consciousness of gender relations.

This reappraisal of motherhood is voiced in clear and moving tones by Shirley Glubka, in our first article titled "Out of the Stream." In recounting her decision to entrust the care of her child to another woman, Glubka shows us motherhood laid bare of mythology and yet heavy with thought and feeling. By speaking of maternity as work and making care of her son a deliberate decision rather than an unquestioned consequence of reproduction Glubka forces us to question our deepest assumptions about motherhood. Such a purposeful and courageous maternal act could hardly occur outside the context of feminism in the late twentieth century.

Other essays in this issue examine some of the conditions that have shaped maternal consciousness and organized parenting in the past. During the nineteenth century, as Michael Grossberg tells us, it was not the individual mother, but the state acting through courts, judges, and statutes, that claimed ultimate authority to decide "Who Gets the Child." Grossberg reminds us that a mother's legal claim to the custody of her offspring is both recent and tenuous, and that motherhood has never been a privileged female sanctum impenetrable to patriarchal controls.



Shirley Glubka
Out of the Stream:
An Essay on Unconventional Motherhood

Michael Grossberg
Who Gets the Child? Custody, Guardianship,
and the Rise of a Judicial Patriarchy
in Nineteenth-Century America

Nancy Folbre
Of Patriarchy Born:
The Political Economy of Fertility Decisions

Honor Moore

Marilyn Hacker

Hortense J. Spillers
A Hateful Passion, A Lost Love;
In the World: An Art Essay

Ann Schofield
Rebel Girls and Union Maids: The Woman Question
in the Journals of the AFL and IWW, 1905-1920

Sharon Hartman Strom
Challenging "Woman's Place": Feminism, the Left,
and Industrial Unionism in the 1930s

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