Reimagining Mothering in the Pandemic: The Birth of a New Patriarchy


Brown, F. 2022. Reimagining Mothering in the Pandemic: The Birth of a New Patriarchy. North East Modern Language Association: 53rd Annual Convention. Baltimore, MD, USA 10 - 13 Mar 2022
AuthorsBrown, F.

Throughout the Pandemic the media has portrayed a notion of mothering which encompasses the woman as mother, caregiver, nurse, teacher and homemaker. We have been bombarded with messages on ‘successful’ home schooling, ‘happy’ home working and of using this ‘time’ to connect with our children. We have seen social media awash with snapshots of ‘the perfect mother’ alongside opinions of appropriate behaviour, standards and expectations that we should subscribe to. We have laboured alone, birthed in isolation and cared for new-borns without support.
We have had to ‘mother’ in almost impossible circumstances; circumstances which are prescribed by a system in which control stems largely from a group which is male, middle aged, upper-middle class and white. We have delivered care to the most vulnerable in our families and in society yet despite this ‘duty of care’ being placed firmly on female shoulders, alongside the very real pressures of living through a pandemic, we have been sold the notion by the media that ‘we are all in this together’. The reality though is that media messaging around ‘Mothering in the Pandemic’ has meant to be a heterosexual, married, financially stable woman; a social construct that takes no account of either contemporary motherhood or women’s intersectional selves.

In this paper I aim to consider why mothering in the pandemic has allowed patriarchal ideals to be placed at the forefront of what is an engendered issue, how these ideals have been promoted by the media throughout the pandemic, why they have failed, in a time of global crisis, to recognise the impact that intersectionality has on motherhood and what, if anything, the feminist movement can do to rectify it.

Keywordsfeminism; pandemic; intersectionality; neoliberalism; media; motherhood; mothering
ConferenceNorth East Modern Language Association: 53rd Annual Convention
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Online12 Mar 2022
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Deposited15 Mar 2022
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Copyright holder© 2022 Fiona L Brown
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