Celebrating Mama’s Day

The Strong Families Initiative has a most excellent Mother’s Day card-generator that you can use to celebrate the radical women in your life. Why? Because:

We know that mamas defy categories. We are all engaged in families and communities in motion–from immigration status to sexuality and gender, from health and ability to disability and transformation. Day to day, the most constant thing is a commitment to figuring it out.

We wanted a way to recognize the day that would bring us back to it’s roots. Originally a cry against the Civil War, Mother’s Day was meant to be a radical revisioning of what is possible when you put mothers at the center of things.

To that end, we worked with an incredible group of artists to create a series of e-cards that will be released on May 8th. Taken together, the set of cards creates an image of mamahood that will not be available at the CVS nearest you. Each card lovingly depicts an aspect of mamahood and family that will likely feel very familiar to most of us…immigration, tenderness, separation, disability, love, and queerness.

From now through Mother’s Day, our blog will feature posts by mamas on an amazing range of topics, from nursing and working, to being pregnant while gender queer, to race, immigration and mamahood.

Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and keep checking their blog. You can make your own e-card here.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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25 Responses to Celebrating Mama’s Day

  1. Elle says:

    All families matter expect of hetreonormal white families? Its silly to feel under represented, but I feel like I am being pushed out of feminism everyday with little things like this.

    I am not black, brown queer or trans enough for modern femenism. White girls need not apply, appearntly?

    • Jill says:

      All families matter expect of hetreonormal white families? Its silly to feel under represented, but I feel like I am being pushed out of feminism everyday with little things like this.

      I am not black, brown queer or trans enough for modern femenism. White girls need not apply, appearntly?

      …seriously? I promise you will be ok.

  2. Donna L says:

    A mermaid with breasts and facial stubble is supposed to represent trans women? Good God. How typical.

  3. EG says:

    Its silly to feel under represented, but I feel like I am being pushed out of feminism everyday with little things like this.

    No, you’re right the first time. It is completely silly. “Silly” is the least offensive word I can think of to describe what you are saying.

    Donna, you’re really right. It’s the stubble that gets me. What the fuck is that doing in there? (Pardon my language; I’m still seething over R. David’s commentary about how Native American child-raising practices are probably inherently abusive.)

    On the mother’s day tip in general, though, it is comments like Elle’s above and R. Dave’s on the thread about Elizabeth Warren that make me extra grateful for having a mother who raised me with good, leftist values, and made me strong and secure enough that I don’t feel “pushed out of feminism” by the fact that there exist a few websites that don’t plaster white women all over everything. I sent my mom one of the cards–I think she’s strong and even “adaptable” enough to manage to identify with another mother even when that mother is brown.

  4. Barry says:

    I didn’t notice the racial angle in the cards–just the great art, and the overall message. Stupid of me, I know. Even more stupidly, I feel it’s still a great way to get a strong progressive and feminist message out there. And how shall I number the ways…? In as many as possible.

  5. Medea says:

    I am not black, brown queer or trans enough for modern femenism. White girls need not apply, appearntly?

    The most influential and well-known feminist organisations are still dominated by white women. Less powerful groups of women of colour have to centre themselves because the white women never will.

    Hetero white families are over-represented in American media and yes, you are silly to feel threatened by these Mother’s Day cards. I’m sure you can find some e-cards featuring people who look like you elsewhere.

  6. sb says:

    A mermaid with breasts and facial stubble is supposed to represent trans women? Good God. How typical.

    I found a lot of the depictions problematical, including that one — and the fact that the only disabled and explicitly lesbian women depicted were done as animals.

  7. Jill says:

    A mermaid with breasts and facial stubble is supposed to represent trans women? Good God. How typical.

    I’m not sure the mermaid is supposed to represent trans women. The text references gender being “a universe,” so I read it as depicting a mama who is gender non-conforming in some way.

  8. Donna L says:

    I’m not sure either, but in a way that’s even worse, because it means that trans people — whether trans men or trans women — are excluded entirely from the universe represented by these cards, despite the inclusive rhetoric in the description and the representation of a diverse variety of other kinds of people. So it’s typical in either case.

    • Jill says:

      I’m not sure either, but in a way that’s even worse, because it means that trans people — whether trans men or trans women — are excluded entirely from the universe represented by these cards, despite the inclusive rhetoric in the description and the representation of a diverse variety of other kinds of people. So it’s typical in either case.

      …how? I mean, how is it that trans people are excluded when the images aren’t specifying whether the person in them is cis or trans, but the text accompanying the campaign is very clear that the campaign is focusing on all mamas, including trans mamas? Most of the images don’t have words specifying “this is a trans woman” or “this is a lesbian woman” etc etc. They just show a wide variety of mamas, and the campaign itself is clearly meant to include trans women.

      I guess I’m wondering how the campaign could have visually represented trans women in these images, outside of what they did.

  9. Donna L says:

    I guess I’m wondering how the campaign could have visually represented trans women in these images, outside of what they did.

    If they had had the one of the mermaid without facial stubble, I would absolutely have perceived that mother as a trans woman, given how she was drawn with distinctly “masculine” facial features and (sort of) hairline. (Which would have bothered me a little, but far less than the way they actually did it.) The more I think about it, the more I think I’m right that this was intended to represent trans women, and they added the stubble because they were concerned that without it nobody would have picked up on their “good intentions.”

    As for the possibility that she was intended to be gender non-conforming, I’ve met a lot of gender queer and otherwise non-gender conforming people, but among the small percentage who were male-assigned at birth, I can’t say I’ve ever known one (especially a parent) who spends their life not in a presentation that would be perceived as androgynous, but in a specifically “mixed gender” or genderf**k presentation, with a sharp demarcation in their body between male-coded and female-coded aspects, as in the “breasts and a beard” look. For reasons of physical safety for themselves (and their child), if nothing else.

    Also, they could have conveyed someone being a trans woman with words in some way. I don’t think it’s an excuse for trans erasure to say, well, all of those women might be trans, how do you know?

    • Jill says:

      Donna, those are all totally fair points, and I hear you. I’m giving the campaign and the cards the benefit of the doubt here, in part because many of them (including the mermaid one) were designed by Micah Bazant, a trans artist. Others were designed by artists of color, queer artists, etc. There’s a bit more about who designed each card here.

  10. Donna L says:

    I hear you too, Jill. Nonetheless, someone being a trans guy doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a clue about what is or isn’t offensive to trans women (or the other way round, of course). Maybe the mermaid is supposed to be FAAB; what do I know?

    • Jill says:

      I hear you too, Jill. Nonetheless, someone being a trans guy doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a clue about what is or isn’t offensive to trans women (or the other way round, of course). Maybe the mermaid is supposed to be FAAB; what do I know?

      Oh totally. And I’m definitely not trying to tell you to not be offended or to not question the cards! Just adding in some additional info that I personally found helpful.

  11. Shoshie says:

    I have three of Nikki McClure’s prints. Mr. Shoshie and I completely adore her work. Donna’s critiques aside, it warms my heart to see her involved in this kind of project and makes me even happier to display her work in my home.

  12. I am not black, brown queer or trans enough for modern femenism. White girls need not apply, appearntly?

    Sweetie, if you can’t identify with a non-white person just long enough to, like, skim your eyes over fifteen e-cards on one site, I think your problems are bigger than your feelings about being pushed out of “femenism”.

  13. Donna L says:

    It occurred to me to add that I do like quite a few of them. But not all.

  14. Argenti Aertheri says:

    Sweetie, if you can’t identify with a non-white person just long enough to, like, skim your eyes over fifteen e-cards on one site, I think your problems are bigger than your feelings about being pushed out of “femenism”.

    That, and it appears, to me anyways, like the second card is a white mother and a child with short hair, probably intended as a boy-child, but could be not-a-boy-child. And then towards the end there’s one that’s a woman with an umbrella….she’s blue. You really can’t remotely identify with any of these? (3rd from the end might be going to my mother, if I can figure out how to word it that won’t imply she looks like her mother, don’t want to make mom feel old on mother’s day!)

  15. EG says:

    The blue woman with the umbrella looks just like Mary Poppins’s silhouette to me. Can’t get whiter than that.

  16. LotusBecca says:

    Hey guys. . .let’s cut Elle some slack here. I’m sure she’s probably just now emotionally recovering from the existence of all those black characters in The Hunger Games movie, and now here comes this reverse-racist, reverse-heteronormative power play. Some fucking compassion, folks.

  17. Pingback: Mother’s Day flowers: You really shouldn’t have | Happy Mothers Day

  18. Partial Human says:

    So many cries for the poor, oppressed, cisstraight, white, able, “normal” people.

    Marginalised and oppressed at every turn, receiving only most of the attention in the world. Surely they deserve all of it?

    Will these wrongs ever be righted?

    (Seriously, first fucking comment? I can’t even…)

  19. Angie unduplicated says:

    Partial Human, you’ve said it perfectly.

  20. Grace says:

    While I had a serious WHAT moment over the first comment, I’m glad that the followup here has been exclusively awesome. I was so scared this thread was going to become all about the terrible plight of the white straight cis feminist…

  21. emily says:

    It did occur to me when looking at the cards that none of the mommies looked exactly like me, but it didn’t make me feel “pushed out.” It made me think that maybe other people notice this “they don’t look like me” phenomena more often than I do.

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