Document Type


Publication Date



Despite the efforts of maternal advocates and feminists through 150 years or more, a great many mothers today feel dissatisfied, shortchanged, and/or inadequate in their own lives. Even those who have reckoned with the fact that standards for mothering are absurdly out of synch with the real lives that families are living in contemporary times, or have carved out comfortable personal and familial space for themselves just beyond, or far beyond, the margins of mainstream motherhood ideologies, often struggle nevertheless with a needling sense of unrest and lack of personal agency. Further, women who agree that maternal empowerment is an important point of focus for social justice may not feel positioned to organize on behalf of mother activism. This essay explores ways that mothers can hold on to the continued struggle for maternal empowerment by letting go of some of the psychological barriers to living fully and purposefully as mothers. Focusing on personal agency as a form of maternal activism, Kinser examines ways for forgiving and embracing the humanity of our own mothers or maternal figures, our selves, and our children that can serve as powerful catalysts for significant change on personal and political scales.

Copyright Statement

This document was published with permission from the publisher. It was originally published in the Women and Language.