Matricentric Feminism is a Gift to the World


Andrea O’Reilly has a new book out called Matricentric Feminism. What’s that you ask? Its a feminism that centres mothers and recognises that being a mother is its own social, political, economic and psychological position. Mothers are a social category and need a feminism that recognises this. Likewise, as feminists we need to re-centre motherhood given the ongoing structural inequality produced by motherhood.

O’Reilly explores the theory, practice, activism and academic position of matricentric feminism. She takes us on a journey through diverse maternal feminist theory,  the emergence and growth of the motherhood movement in the 21st century, the practice of feminist mothering (and mothering as a feminist) and the complex, unacknowledged place of motherhood within academic feminism. I had the honour of writing the forward for this book having known Andrea personally and professionally for almost two decades now. You can read my forward here.


From the blurb:

The book argues that the category of mother is distinct from the category of woman, and that many of the problems mothers face—social, economic, political, cultural, psychological, and so forth—are specific to women’s role and identity as mothers. Indeed, mothers are oppressed under patriarchy as women and as mothers. Consequently, mothers need a feminism of their own, one that positions mothers’ concerns as the starting point for a theory and politic of empowerment. O’Reilly terms this new mode of feminism matricentic feminism and the book explores how it is represented and experienced in theory, activism, and practice. The chapter on maternal theory examines the central theoretical concepts of maternal scholarship while the chapter on activism considers the twenty-first century motherhood movement. Feminist mothering is likewise examined as the specific practice of matricentric feminism and this chapter discusses various theories and strategies on and for maternal empowerment. Matricentric feminism is also examined in relation to the larger field of academic feminism; here O’Reilly persuasively shows how matricentric feminism has been marginalized in academic feminism and considers the reasons for such exclusion and how such may be challenged and changed.

Breastfeeding in Public: A Personal and Political Memoir

Mothers at the MarginsI have a chapter “Breastfeeding in Public: A Personal and Political Memoir” in Mothers at the Margins Stories of Challenge, Resistance and Love edited by Lisa Raith, Jenny Jones, Marie Porter and published with Cambridge Scholars Press. You can check out the book and order it here. I will have a copy of my chapter available on this site in the coming months.

Mothering and Psychoanalysis book launch

Anne Manne

Anne Manne

We had a wonderful launch for Mothering and Psychoanalysis last night. You can view photos from the launch by John Mayger here.

Book launch of Mothering and Psychoanalysis

You are invited to the launch of my edited book Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives at Readings, Hawthorne, August 28th at 4pm. The book will be launched by the wonderful Anne Manne.  Come for a snack and a chat. Hope to see you there! Oh, and you can also pick up a copy of the book at the launch. Directions: Readings Hawthorn — 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122

Breastfeeding ‘in public’: A personal and political memoir

Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.


Karen Armstrong Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

Karen Armstrong
Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.


In this article I offer a reflective autobiographical account of being asked not to breastfeed my then 13 month old at the Hepburn Bathhouse ostensibly for “hygiene” reasons and ultimately―for the organization changed their story―for “safety” reasons.  I explore the scholarly literature on breasts and breastfeeding especially as it relates to the public/private distinction on which the controversy implicitly rests making the case that it is our collective inability to symbolically place breasts―are they sexy or are they maternal? Are they natural or are they medicinal?―that renders “public” breastfeeding so challenging.  I make two further arguments: first, that breastfeeding controversies are increasingly defined by what the sociologists Michael Bittman and Judith Pixley call “pseudomutuality” (1997, p. 81), or, by a pretence of mutuality, such that discriminatory individuals and organisations routinely claim to be “pro-breastfeeding” and; second, claiming our right to feed in public is part of a broader maternal politics of embodied citizenship shifting extant norms premised on the ideal of the unencumbered, autonomous subject. Reconfiguring the image of the ideal-typical citizen as one who may also be pregnant with, birthing and/or nurturing another is part of this politics. In this view, breastfeeding “in public” is literally a transformative “coming out” redefining public space.

This chapter will be published in J. Jones, M. Porter and L. Raith. Mothers at the Margins. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015.  (Please note: This link is to the table of contents and introduction. I will upload a copy of this paper soon).


I will be presenting the chapter in modified form at two conferences:

1. MIRCI “Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood From Ancient Greece to Contemporary Times” Conference, May 23rd-24th, 2014, Hellenic Education and Research Center in Athens, Greece.

2. Australian Breastfeeding Association Conference “Liquid Gold”, Melbourne, 1-3 August, 2014.


Breastfeeding in public – panel discussion

WIW poster D1_CP1

I am hosting a panel discussion on breastfeeding in public at the Words in Winter Festival in Daylesford on Sunday August 3rd, 1pm at The Rex. Joining the panel will be noted academic and writer Dr Fiona Giles author of Freshmilk: The Secret Life of Breasts, Anna Kaplan documentary film maker and producer of The Booby Trap, Susan Reddrop and myself.  You can see the program here. Hope to see you there!

Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives


Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives

Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives

I am thrilled to announce the publication of Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives This book brings together the different disciplinary strands of psychoanalysis, sociology and feminism to consider motherhood and mothering. The psychoanalytic focus includes both theoretical and clinical applications ranging from textual analysis of films, books, art, theory and popular culture through to qualitative research on mothers, clinical case studies and analyses of therapeutic technique. The sociological focus includes a critique of therapy culture and its gendered implications. This collection is not only a contribution to psychoanalytic feminism but also, and importantly, a contribution to the feminist and sociological critique of the institution of therapy and the role of the therapist. Examining the maternal turn in psychoanalytic theory and practice and the rise of women therapists, this book seeks to shed light on the feminisation of therapy. Taking shape around five core themes: the therapist as mother, the mother in therapy, mothers in art and culture, psychoanalytic theory of mothers and mothering, and sociological interventions in therapy culture , this book endeavours to generate dialogue across disciplinary borders while placing mothers, mothering and motherhood at the centre of analysis.

The book can be purchased from Demeter Press for half price until Sept 1st here.  It is now available on Amazon too. You can purchase it here.


Women and Depression

Depression” is an entry I wrote in The Multimedia Encylopedia of Women in Today’s World (Sage, 2011). It examines the phenomenon of depression in relation to women in a global context.

Encyclopedia of Motherhood – Sharon Hays

This is an entry in The Encylopedia of Motherhood (Sage, 2010) I wrote on the sociologist  Sharon Hays. She is the author of a critically important book in motherhood studies, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. This short piece gives an overview of Hays’ key ideas and work.  You can also read the introduction for the Encyclopedia of Motherhood by the editor Professor Andrea O’Reilly.

When Eve Left the Garden: A Modern Tale about Mothers who Leave their Families

“When Eve Left the Garden: A Modern Tale about Mothers who Leave their Families” is a chapter I wrote in Andrea O’Reilly, Marie Porter and Patricia Short (eds.), Motherhood: Power and Oppression, The Women’s Press/Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, 2005, pp. 265-283.

This chapter is based on my early (and subsequently revised) PhD research on “mothers who leave”. I develop an argument that the mothers I interviewed were leaving the “institution of motherhood” which assigns the majority of childcare and domestic work to women – rather than children or mothering per se. I examine British and Australian data on leaving mothers, current data on the division of domestic labour, and prevailing feminist theories of autonomy before elucidating the case of Liz. After six years of marriage and motherhood Liz left her partner and child to live in her own home; however, she continued to co-parent her son and have him stay over two to three nights a week. I postulate that in retaining their active mothering but moving out of the default position in the home, leaving mothers offer a “third way” beyond the extant antinomy between autonomy and care.

Petra Bueskens | Mother, scholar, psychotherapist | Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Melbourne Daylesford