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9780262543620

Optimal Motherhood and Other Lies Facebook Told Us Assembling the Networked Ethos of Contemporary Maternity Advice

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780262543620

  • ISBN10:

    0262543621

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2022-11-08
  • Publisher: The MIT Press

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Summary

An exploration of social media–imposed pressure on new mothers: How the supposed safe havens of online mommy groups have become rife with aggression and groupthink.

Many mothers today turn to social media for parenting advice, joining online mothers’ groups on Facebook and elsewhere. But the communities they find in these supposed safe havens can be rife with aggression, peer pressure, and groupthink—insisting that only certain practices are “best,” “healthiest,” “safest” (and mandatory). In this book, Jessica Clements and Kari Nixon debunk the myth of “optimal motherhood”—the idea that there is only one right answer to parenting dilemmas, and that optimal mothers must pursue perfection. In fact, Clements and Nixon write, parenting choices are not binaries, and the scientific findings touted by mommy groups are neither clear-cut nor prescriptive.

Clements and Nixon trace contemporary ideas of optimal motherhood to the nineteenth-century “Cult of True Womanhood,” which viewed women in terms of purity and dignity. Both mothers themselves, they joined a variety of Facebook mothers’ groups to explore what goes on in online mommy wars. They examine debates within these groups over CDC recommendations about alcohol during pregnancy, birth plans that don’t go according to plan, breastfeeding vs. formula, co-sleeping and “crying it out,” and “tweaking” pregnancy test kits to discern pregnancy as early as possible. Clements and Nixon argue for an empowered motherhood, freed from the impossible standards of the optimal.

Author Biography

Jessica Clements is Assistant Professor of English and Composition Commons Director at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and Managing Editor of Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society. Kari Nixon is Assistant Professor of English at Whitworth University. She is the author of Kept from All Contagion and Quarantine Life from Cholera to COVID-19.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
1 It Was Never about the Coffee 33
2 Take Back the Delivery Room 61
3 We Have Never Been Normal 91
4 Breast/Fed is Best 117
5 Precious Little Sleep™ 143
6 "Can I Get a Tweak?" 171
A Very COVID Conclusion 193
Notes 209
References 213
Index 225

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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