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Maternal Authenticity

  • By: Elizabeth Butterfield
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Authenticity is an ethical term that denotes being true to oneself, as in making decisions that are consistent with one's own beliefs and values. In contrast, inauthenticity is generally understood to be an abdication of one's own authority and a loss of integrity. Mothers face the challenge of authenticity as they attempt to remain true to their own values while facing social expectations of ideal womanhood and motherhood.

In maternal theory, there are two main sources of discussions of authenticity: Sara Ruddick addresses the theme of maternal authenticity in her book, Maternal Thinking, in relation to the demand that mothers raise children who are socially acceptable; and Andrea O'Reilly explores the particular dilemma that feminist mothers face as they explicitly reject patriarchal standards of social acceptability. ...

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