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Who’s Your Mama: The Voices of Unsung Women and Mothers

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Who’s Your Mama: The Voices of Unsung Women and Mothers

Looking for women writers in the U.S. who are mothers, trying to become mothers and who are childless by choice or circumstance

There are so many books published about the motherhood experiences of affluent, married, White women, books that often revolve around the "mommy wars," the raging debate between mothers who work and those who stay at home. The fact that this small demographic is represented in the media as the face of U.S. motherhood has effectively removed the voices and stories of the true majority of mothers from the public dialogue.

The true majority includes mothers who are: women of color, low and middle income, single, bisexual or lesbian.

This anthology proposes to gather women’s writings about motherhood that addresses race, class, sexuality, identity and intimate partnership. We have chosen to use the words women and motherhood, but it’s being used to focus on the female experience of parenting under patriarchy, not to exclusively define it.

Gen-X/Hip Hop generation women, those born between 1965 and 1984, grew up in the aftermath of social and political revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s that sought to re-define marriage, sexuality and motherhood. While the primary societal messages continue to trumpet traditional values and heterosexual marriage as the preferred norm, on the ground,
women are actively engaged in crafting identities and family structures (including remaining single and/or childless) that speak practically to their personal beliefs, intimate relationships and economic realities.

Demographically, this generation of mothers looks different from its predecessors. Many did not even have children until they were 25 years old or older and on average they are having only two children. Therefore in comparison to their mothers and grandmothers they are older and have fewer children to look after. Having come of age in the 1980s and 1990s these women also grew up taking feminism (and the benefits it bestowed) as a given. For Gen-X and Hip Hop generation women, they believe that they can choose to raise healthy happy children and still be true to themselves.

Unlike previous generations, Gen-X women are represented by a diversity of contexts for motherhood that include heterosexual marriages, single parenting, committed partnership and gay marriage. Furthermore we recognize that the ability of a woman to have the option to be a working mother or a stay at home mother is frequently dependent on her socio-economic standing as demonstrated by her access to informational and financial resources, nearby, reliable and affordable child care and good fortune to work in a flexible work environment.

Furthermore, more women are consciously choosing not to have children and it is necessary to understand the remaining societal costs or the unexpected freedoms that are the consequence of choosing to remain childless. Lastly, every mother was someone before she had children. Therefore while motherhood is a significant life event, this book
wants to examine how women develop other aspects of themselves alongside their identities as mothers, including their careers, friendships (particularly with other women), sexual personas, intimate relationships, familial and community bonds.

Many Gen-X women, although they were brought up and encouraged to "have it all" have a thorny relationship with feminism. Many understand that the freedoms that they take for granted, including the right to: work in nontraditional jobs; receive equal work for equal and; have reproductive choice were the result of feminist agitation.

Nevertheless while many young women eagerly embrace the feminist label, far more equate feminism with angry, unattractive, affluent, man-hating, White women and do not believe that feminism represents their perspectives on religion, sexuality, culture, class or race. We are interested in ascertaining whether a woman choosing to become a mother or not is influenced by her identification with feminism (even if that identification is oppositional) and its perceived tenets, how does a woman’s acceptance (or rejection) of feminism or its principles inform her mothering or extend her focus on social and political issues such as parental leave, affordable childcare, court enforced child support, etc?.

We are seeking honest essays written in the first-person from Gen X/Hip Hop generation women of all classes, races, sexualities and religions. Submissions from emerging as well as established writers, activists, scholars and everyday women will be accepted. The personal narrative should record how your decision about motherhood empowered you and in some way made you reconsider a way of being, a personal truth, political ideology or cultural norm or community standard that you have never previously questioned. Additionally, we are interested in essays that explore how new definitions of motherhood and female empowerment are pushing women toward new thinking around social and political change. We welcome and will consider new ideas in addition to the topics suggested below.

the emotional and financial costs of motherhood
mothering and sexual identity
how becoming a mother changes your politics
daycare and childcare
single motherhood
lesbian or bisexual mothering
motherhood and marriage/committed partnership
gender and care of the children
health care and motherhood
motherhood and poverty
what does having it all really mean?
what makes a feminist mother different from others?
balancing motherhood and work
discrimination against mothers in the workplace
negotiating societal expectations about motherhood
race, class and motherhood
raising bi-racial children or children of a different race
childless because you do not want children
childless because you do not have a committed partner (and you do
not want to be a single mom)
childless because you believe that having a child would adversely
affect your career or finances
adoptive mothers/guardians/foster parents
incarcerated mothers

DEADLINE: February 1, 2008
WORD COUNT/PAGE LIMITS: Personal Narratives - 20 pages/5000 words.
FORMAT: Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the last page. No simultaneous submissions. Previously published essays will be considered if the writer owns the copyright. Essays will not be returned. Essays will not be published without the writer's consent.

-SUBMITTING: Electronic submissions are preferred. Send essay electronically as a Word format file (with .doc extension) to Yvonne(at) (replace (at) with @). Write "Motherhood Anthology" in the subject line. If email is not possible, mail two (2) copies of the essay to Yvonne Bynoe at PO Box 14068, Washington, DC 20044 attn: Motherhood Anthology.Please direct any inquiries to info(at) (replace (at) with @).

Yvonne Bynoe is a Senior Fellow at the Future Focus 2020 Center at Wake Forest University and the author of Stand & Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture and the Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture.

PUBLISHER: Soft Skull Press (New York)
REPLY: Please allow until March 1, 2008 for a response. If you have not received a response by then, please assume your essay has not been selected. It is not possible to reply to every submission personally.

Susan Ito has served Literary Mama as a Fiction Editor, CNF editor, and columnist of “Life in the Sandwich.” She edited the literary anthology, A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. She is the author of the SheBook, The Mouse Room. Her work has appeared in CHOICE, Hip Mama, the Bellevue Literary Review,, Making More Waves, Growing Up Asian American, the Kartika Review, and elsewhere. She is a former Fiction Editor, Columnist, and Creative Nonfiction Editor for Literary Mama.

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