Remaking Mothers

Heather Paxson

in Making Modern Mothers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780520223714
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937130 | DOI:
Remaking Mothers

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This chapter traces material, ideational, and ethical shifts in what Athenian women have been expected to do in order to demonstrate gender proficiency and be good mothers. It also tracks changing family strategies within a secularizing context of increased labor market participation, consumerist dispositions, and medical means of fertility control. The humble attitude toward fertility control corresponds to a sense that motherhood constitutes the purpose of being a woman. It draws from these narratives local critiques of modernity and patriarchy that emerge from the confluence of an ethic of service and an ethic of choice for women. The ethic of service said to have flourished before the war has not disappeared; it has been overlaid with an ethic of choice. “Old” and “new” attitudes and ethics fold in on one another, even as each is called on to explain everyday life.

Keywords: fertility control; motherhood; labor market; consumerist disposition; Athenian women

Chapter.  28953 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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