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Construction of identity - Essay Example

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Construction of identity

In the period from 1950 to 1990, the unidimensionl identity of modern women ws replced by bidimensionl identity (Nicholson, 1997:380), phenomenon observed lso in other countries (Woodwrd, 1997:240). In generl, women's lbor force prticiption incresed drmticlly during the twentieth century, nd in recent yers, the continuity of women's creers hs lso risen.
Mny women becoming mothers now hve greter occsion to develop nd vest themselves in nonfmilil identities thn did women in the pst. But mny of the culturl chnges tht hve ccompnied economic nd demogrphic chnges mke the question of how to live s n dult problemtic in new wys for such women. Prentl roles re no longer tken to define the mening of womn's dult life or of couple's reltionship. Current culturl rhetorics of individulism men tht, mong the middle clss, it is no longer pproprite for dults to scrifice themselves for their spouses or their children; insted the individul is offered culturl imges of self-reliztion nd of "finding one's self" s guides to identity nd the mening of life. Such chnges in the menings of womnhood nd motherhood, however, re contested. Kaplan (1984:112) points out tht conflict over the socil representtion of motherhood s optionl rther thn centrl in women's lives lies t the hert of the politicl debtes on bortion in the United Sttes.
Tody
Tody's motherhood is more complex nd diverse in mening. Kpln (1992) speks in this regrd of "postmodern" motherhood. The Mdonn imge--representing the scrificing mother-hs been supplemented with the Creer women imge (Kpln, 1992:115). ccording to Crmer (1997), young mothers re well wre of the conflict between trditionl nd modern models of mother hood. In the view of Hys (1996), mothers tody fce two socilly constructed imges, tht is, tht of the "trditionl" mother-who stys t home nd dedictes ll her energy to the fmily--nd tht of the successful "supermom": The ll-round mother who hs "briefcse" qulities. She not only mnges the household nd rises the children, but lso hs her own creer.
With respect to the described chnges within society, it is of interest to investigte how tody's dolescent girls nd young women conceptulize motherhood. The trditionl imge is extended with modern imge of motherhood.
The representtion of motherhood s primrily biologicl reltionship conceled the gendered politics of socil nd "nturl" reltions. In Western cultures, women's "embodied humnity," most clerly symboliclly expressed by their biologicl cpcity to mother, hs been used to exclude them from "true humnity"-to relegte them to sphere perceived to be outside history, society, nd reson: tht is, "to nture" (Woodwrd, 1997:242). Nture nd womn were both culturlly ssocited nd empiriclly devlued.
Feminist nlyses, however, drw even deeper implictions from these culturl ssocitions nd dulisms. Ecofeminism, for exmple, exposes the wys in which gendered constructions of "humn" (msculine) nd "nonhumn" nture hve been embedded in the emergence of modern sciences nd the ssocited politicl-economic reltions of industriliztion nd coloniztion.
Ptrirchl conceptions of womn nd nture, they rgue, re t the hert of destructive ecologicl prctices s well s of the oppressive gender, clss, nd rce reltions on which they re built (Kpln, 1992:115). Not surprisingly, mny contemporry feminists re rethinking motherhood. For the nlysis of motherhood, s Hys (1996) points out, hs the ...Show more

Summary

Views on motherhood nd mothering prctices hve chnged over the course of time. s socilly defined nd constntly reconstructed phenomenon, reserch hs documented tht views on motherhood nd mternl prctices hve followed their own "nturl history." These views hve been strongly shped by the circumstnces of time nd plce, scientific nd technologicl dvncement, nd socil nd economic developments (Hys, 1996:60).
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