Bad Mothers: A Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
As givers of life, mothers occupy an essential role in ensuring the ongoing survival of the human race. The bond between mother and child is commonly revered in societies as primal and sacred. Perhaps it is because of the importance of child-bearing and child-rearing that so much critical attention has been given to how mothers should and should not behave. Entertainment and news media outlets, parenting manuals and social media are among the main sources of role models to which mothers might aspire as well as cautionary tales of women whose conduct has earned them the label of bad mothers. But just what does it mean to be a bad mother? While mothers who kill or cause harm to their children are obvious examples, how should we regard a mother whose neglect for her child is due to having to work multiple jobs to support her family? What about the mother whose loving indulgence of her child’s every wish causes the child to develop a detrimental sense of entitlement? These grey areas signify the complexities of motherhood itself, as well as the challenges associated with evaluating a mother’s goodness or badness.
In recognition of the fundamentally interdisciplinary nature of motherhood, the Bad Mothers event seeks to provide a platform for participants to explore this multi-faceted topic with a view to forming an innovative interdisciplinary publication to engender further research and collaboration. Key questions for discussion include: What are the purposes and consequences of declaring someone a bad mother? How have the standards for being a bad mother changed over time? To what extent is the bad mother label a product of economic and racial privilege? What do stories of real and fictional bad mothers reveal about broader socio-cultural preoccupations? Are bad mothers ever justified in their behaviour, and can they be redeemed? Is there an obligation to act in relation to bad mothers?
Bad Mothers is a project within a newly forming Evil Families thread which will also consider Bad Fathers and already has an event dealing with Evil Children: Children and Evil.
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