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Mediated Moms

Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth

Edited By Heather L. Hundley and Sara E. Hayden

Images of «good mothers» saturate the media, yet so too do images of mothers who do not fit this mold. Numerous scholars have addressed «bad mothers» in the media, arguing that these images are a necessary counterpoint that serves to buttress the «good mother» myth. While mediated images of women who fail to enact good motherhood may promote good mothering as an ideal, the essays in Mediated Moms: Contemporary Challenges to the Motherhood Myth, suggest that this is not all that is occurring in contemporary portrayals of maternity. The authors in this volume explore how images of mothers have expanded beyond the good/bad dichotomy, simultaneously and sometimes paradoxically serving to reinforce, fracture, and/or transcend the ideology of good motherhood.
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12. “Devil Mamas” of Social Media: Resistant Maternal Discourses in Sanctimommy

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By VALERIE PALMER-MEHTA & SHERIANNE SHULER1

Feminist rhetorical scholars have characterized the diverse discourses of motherhood that pervade U.S. culture as “polyvalent” (Kinser, 2013, p. xv), “slippery” (Buchanan, 2013, p. xvii), “conflicting”, and “complex” (O’Brien Hallstein, 2010, p. 6). Inherent in such characterizations is the ultimate paradox of maternal rhetoric: It is imbued with, and commands, both symbolic force and peril. As Kinser (2013) avers, motherhood invokes “widely shared cultural codes that operate in tension with each other, expanding women’s political voice and igniting social change, but also reifying gendered norms that contract and attenuate women’s agency and possibility” (p. xiii). Across time and space, motherhood discourses have functioned variously to ensure that women stay in their place. In response, women have strategically deployed maternal metaphors to envision alternative social orders and have creatively resisted confining notions of motherhood while imagining new ones in their place (Buchanan, 2002; Hayden, 2003; Knudson, 2009).

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