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New Momism

  • By: D. Lynn O'Brien Hallstein
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Susan Douglas, the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, and Meredith Michaels, a philosophy professor at Smith College, coined the term new momism in their 2004 book, The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Undermined Women. Douglas and Michaels argue that the new momism began to emerge in the 1980s, primarily in the media, and is a highly romanticized myth about motherhood.

The new momism is a set of ideals, norms, and practices that seem to value motherhood, but in fact create standards of mothering that are impossible for most mothers to meet. At the heart of the new momism is the insistence that no woman is complete until she has children; women are the best caregivers ...

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