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Towards a feminist re-imagining of motherhood

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Candida Hadley, Susanne Marshall, and Andrea Smith about the Halifax Motherhood Collective. They are working to develop grassroots feminist understandings of motherhood and to provide opportunities for mothers to come together, share their experiences, and imagine new ways for mothering (and for other aspects of the work of caring and social reproduction) to happen in our society.

Becoming a mother -- or, with some gendered differences, also other sorts of parents who play a significant caregiving role -- can be really, really hard. Yes, it can be wonderful too, and have moments of satisfaction and joy and fulfillment, but for many women, those initial years as a mother come along with an incredible weight of social isolation, personal constraint and intensely regulatory expectation.

Candida Hadley, Susanne Marshall, and Andrea Smith are all mothers. They all also have histories of grassroots political involvement of various sorts, including in feminist politics. So a few years ago when they were hanging out and talking about being moms -- about the isolation and about all of the other motherhood-associated challenges -- it was a perfectly natural step for them to take those conversations in public directions. As the Halifax Motherhood Collective, they have held several events over the last couple of years. Importantly, this work has involved rethinking the practicalities of what a parent-and-child friendly grassroots event actually looks like -- something most movements and grassroots organizations grounded in the dominant culture completely ignore, even when they pay token attention to providing child care. And through these events, most promiently Alternative Mother's Day gatherings in the last two years, they have given mothers and other parents a chance to come together, share their experiences, and collectively develop politics flowing from critical analyses of contemporary ideologies and diverse lived experiences of motherhood. In particular, they have developed an analysis that points to the nexus of capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism in shaping the social organization and ideologies of motherhood that dominate in North America today. Hadley, Marshall, and Smith talk with me about those experiences and critical analyses; about the collective; and about how they hope to build on this work in the future.

To learn more about the Halifax Motherhood Collective, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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