Mothering In Contemporary Western Culture

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The concept of mothering has a specific connotation in contemporary Western culture. According to societal norms, ‘good’ mothers are supposed to be all-giving, self-sacrificing women who devote their lives to their children’s care and well-being. Within the dominant Occidental ideology, maternal devotion and love tend to be described as natural and instinctive. In this way, the expectations of maternal sacrifice are naturalised, so that childcare and domestic responsibilities are delegated. Moreover, from the nineteenth century, womanhood and motherhood started being treated as synonymous identities and categories of experience. Consequently, the ones who failed at adapting to the ideal gender role society assigned them were criticised not only for their behaviour, but also for the gender transgression involved in their rebellion to the established norm. Many theorists in the last century analysed the evolution of the concept of maternal love, in order to demonstrate that motherhood should not be interpreted as a biologically-determined or socially-ascribed concept because of its variations throughout time and place. The historical shifts in mothering behaviour highlight the changing nature of the concept, which proved to be highly influenced by the spread of culturally-constructed models of mothering, which were naturalised through the circulation of narratives on the proper way of nurturing and their repetition. Through these narrations, the dominant culture established

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