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Discourses of Motherhood among a Group of South African Mothers

Lisa Jeannes, Tamara Shefer


The motherhood myth is the myth of the Perfect Mother. She must be completely devoted not just to her children, but to her role. She must be the one who understands her children, who is all-loving and, even more importantly, all-giving....We believe that she alone is the best caretaker for her children and they require her continual and exclusive presence. She must embody all the qualities traditionally associated with femininity such as nurturing, intimacy and softness. Thats how we want her to be... Forna (1999, p.23)

Whilst the past century has seen many changes in terms of womans rights, with particular regard to education, employment opportunities and indeed female representation in the economic sector, it seems little has changed regarding motherhood. Popular culture is clinging to the notion of the 'perfect mother', insisting that this is one domain of womanhood that cannot be and never has been different.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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