March 31, 2009


One feminist family value that is articulated in Feminist Family Values Forum through the piece by Glora Steinem is the idea that children should be raised by both of their parents; not in the sense that the father brings home the money and the mother is the care - taker and nurterer; both parents equally partake in the daily duties of the child. This can also be translated into homosexual relationships, and single families where there is a lot of outside support from relatives and friends. The reason that this family value is explicitly feminine is because it tosses out gender as simply a culturally created norm and treats all human beings the same; it allows people to get in touch with the human qualities that are put into feminine/masculine categories and therefore be equal partners in raising children. This type of family value draws upon a view where there is no "typical family"; it accepts all types of families as a functional family where each person has something to bring to the table as far as raising children goes. This differs from the traditional view of "family" where the household is headed by "the male - headed patriarchal nuclear household" (Steinem, 47). In ths traditional family the woman is the homemaker and the man is the breadwinner, and cannot be seen as weak by showing his feelings that would be considered "feminine" and unmanly. This type of family value allows people to become whole people as Gloria puts it, because they toss out cultural norms where we categorize feelings according to sex and connect with their whole family.

a response

I understand Alex M’s trepidation to equate inherent feminine qualities to the organization of women around community issues. In order to effectively uproot patriarchal family systems and social spheres it is imperative that the health and wellbeing of a community is the responsibility of all community members. Lehr’s article articulates many of the underlying beliefs that pose problems for forming a well balanced and equally balanced power dynamic within a family and a community.

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blog 06

I think that this analysis of family life, and furthermore, definite family roles, by Valerie Lehr provides a great case for reconstruction of the family. Her discussion on lesbian and gay roles, as well as the environment those roles create for children, is especially convincing. As she went over all of the injustices that confine individuals, particularly masculinity and the conundrum of heterosexuality, it became more and more apparent to me that nothing short of a complete revolution of social strata will suffice. She faced the tradition family by displaying each level of the corruption that comprises it. Family, that is, as the structure of raising a child. She attacked the division of labor in the family, and hence the entire role of femininity and masculinity as normal. It should not be “possible” for lesbian women to be fathers and gay men to be mothers. Parenting has been sectionalized and damaged by gender applications. People should be able to create homes, and raise families, for the love of children and of eachother. By scaling how the traditional family demeans man and woman, heterosexual and homosexual alike, Lehr applied her ethics of equality and morality. This is what makes her work both feminist and queer.

My Sixth Blog

In the Pardo article shows how MELA came together to ensure better and safer community for their children. Because they are women working towards a goal of bettering life for everyone that is a way that it become a feminist issue. I think that just by becoming involved in the policies of the community it differs from traditional family values. By advocating for the for more help in the community they became feminists and acted outside of the traditional caretakers In traditional family issues the male would be the one dealing with any kind of conflicts or political issues. The male voice would be heard and taken into account over the female voice. But these women wanted changes to happen in their community so they worked together to make their issues known. They stayed in the traditional roles because they knew that without a male presence they would not be heard. The women also kept the traditional “family” by doing their work in the community but making sure the house was clean, there was food on the table and did all the responsibilities that are traditionally for women not men. They made sure to still find into their caretaker roles even though they would step out of that role through the community activism

March 30, 2009

Blog #6

In Mary Pardo’s article, she discusses how women in East Los Angeles organized for political action based on their roles as mothers. She discusses how the women started out by advocating change in arenas that are typically associated with traditional motherhood, such as the issue of children’s safety, as Pardo brings up in the example of mothers advocating playground safety from drug dealers and so on. The mothers then moved on to advocating a more inclusive definition of family: the community as family. This differs from traditional family values, which idolizes the small, heterosexual family model. Instead, the women of MELA considered “family” to be anyone at all. The article discusses how single women, while not “mothers”, were encouraged to participate in the organization, since as women they had a vested interest in the community. This is exemplified in the issues of the prison and waste incinerator proposed to be built in their community. The entire community banded together, fronted in large part by the women to fight for a better standard of living for everyone. MELA also incorporated the help of men to incorporate the community as a whole into the efforts, which opens up issues that encompass all individuals but are based on a goal towards a better community environment.

Blog 6

In Valerie Lehr’s article, she argues that there is no reason why a lesbian cannot be a father or a gay man cannot be a mother.

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Response #1

Mary Pardo talked about the Latino women as heterosexual who is active on behalf of her family when there is going to be a freeway bulid on their property. Homosexual couple is relate in a way that their family are made up of children as well. They are fighting for the rights of gay or lesbian couple so that thier children would not have to endure injustice like being discriminate for having gay or lesbian parents. This shows that whether heterosexual or homosexual children are the purpose of fighting for justice in order the children in our community to live in a safe environment. It showed that parents do not have to be defined by heterosexual or patriarchy, but someone who is responsible to take action to make a positive change. The reading by Mary Pardo where the women followed the priest to protest. Valarie Lehre showed us that the gay and lesbian has fought for these different methods such as surrogacy, foster parent, adoption, or co-parenting which is very different from the traditional heterosexual family values to be legal so that they could have a family and become parents. Both couples have contributed to the responsiblity of becoming parents.

Feminist Values

Lardo’s article explains the devotion of a group of Latina women known as the “Mothers of East L.A” or MELA. MELA sought to protect themselves and their families from governmental exploitation and they refused to allow the governor to build a prison in their neighborhood. The feminist/queer value that the MELA exemplified is how they transformed the definition of “mother” to include militant political opposition to state proposed projects that they saw as adverse to the quality of life in the community. The women of MELA have defied “traditional” family values in many ways; they do not follow the “traditional” meaning of mother. A member of MELA Erlinda Robles said, “When you are fighting for a better life for children and “doing” form them, isn’t that what mothers do? So we’re all mothers. You don’t have to have children to be a “mother.”” They have also expanded the boundaries of “motherhood” to included social and political community activism. MELA definition of “family” is a revision of the nuclear family they view the community as “family” and seek to protect the well-being of everyone within their community. Aurora Castillo said, “Mothers are for children’s interest, not for self interest.”

Response to Erika

While I agree with Erika that the queering of motherhood into activism seems to be a re-invention of a cherished family value I don’t think that it is necessarily a good idea that we position activism as a direct result of nurturing feelings. In Gloria Steinem's portion of the Feminist Values Forum she discusses the extension of family to include fatherhood and the tribe of people in the Kalahari who extend the nurturing role to men as well as women and especially to older people rather than just the birth-parents. All of our readings for this week helped build upon the idea that motherhood and activism are linked through an extension of personal feelings of protecting and nurturing one’s own family. When a community needs nurturing, the mothers of the community step in to help in alignment with their identity as mothers and nurturers. The example of the Kalahari women demands we stop for a moment and question how naturally we assume nurturing to be the role of women and exclusively of mothers. So although the organizing in the United States can include non-mothers, the philosophy at base of this organizing seems flawed to me, and in the end may hurt those movements founded on an identification with the inherent qualities of motherhood.

March 27, 2009

Blog 6: hetersexual motherhood

Mary Pardo’s article on the activism of the Mother’s of East Los Angeles illustrates how the traditional family value of heteronormative motherhood becomes feminist when used as a vehicle for community activism. The members of MELA drew on their roles as mothers when deciding which issues to organize around and how to organize. For instance, many of the women involved in MELA got their start in activism because they were concerned about the conditions of the schools their kids were going to. Traditional notions of motherhood also imply some degree of subordination to the family patriarch, who is often the breadwinner. MELA used this notion to their advantage by granting a man the presidency (but keeping the true decision making power in the hands of women) in order to garner more support and greater membership in the group.
The value of heteronormative motherhood depends very much on a heterosexual model of family (mother, father, and children), but members of MELA have confronted and divorced themselves from this model, as evidenced by their reassurance of one member without children that a mother is anyone who works on behalf of children. Thus, a heterosexual relationship and family are not necessary for effective participation in the group. I would argue that this constitutes a queering of the traditional notion of motherhood; co-opting the values of caring, nurturing, and protection while removing the strict requirements of heterosexuality and reproduction/childbirth/childrearing.

March 26, 2009

Blog 6: Family Values

Blog Question #6:

In a 200-word post, list and describe a feminist/queer family value that is articulated in one of the readings (Feminist Family Values Forum, Lehr, Pardo). Your entry should address the following:

• What makes your family value explicitly feminist/queer?
• How does it differ from some of the “traditional” family values?
• What definition of “family” does it draw upon?