Other Mothers or OtherMothers
Othermothers are women, including but not limited to biological mothers, who provide care for children not biologically their own, as well as the world we inhabit. This role is not new, nor is it unique to a particular culture. My first exposure to othermothering was via Patricia Hill Collins, a scholar, researcher, and theorist who reanimated the term to describe the valued, but often ignored work of women in black communities. But even a cursory look at herstory reveals that othermothers have populated the world, created and preserved communities and cultures, and "done the work," way before we started paying attention.
Othermothers use mothering strategies, which are varied in form and range from direct childcare to social activism. These strategies are creative and revolutionary; they are distinguished by their reliance on qualities typically associated with women—nurturing, loving, caring, supportive, relational. Othermothers are women who use their innate mothering skills in everything they do: raising kids, building community, starting and running businesses, and activating within the political sphere. We reject the rigid dichotomy of “woman” versus “man” that has led to the devaluation of women (and men) and the work we do in the world. The devaluation of women’s work and mothering strategies has led to the marginalization of our gender, in our homes, in our places of work, in our communities. We facilitate connections and help women to discover (or rediscover) their strengths so that they can be well in the current world, while (re)creating a world where mothering is valued and respected. We seek to change our community, its members and institutions, through authentic action that reflects who we are as women, and that restores to women the respect and value that should be offered to us all.
So far, I think it's fair to say that all of us here at Femina would describe themselves as proud othermothers. To celebrate this role, we are launching Femina, and its attention to mothering work, by hosting a First Friday event at the Ware Center (Lancaster, PA). Please visit the Events tab for details. We'd love to meet you. hg