1st Edition

The Political Uses of Motherhood in America

By Cynthia Stavrianos Copyright 2015

    As various contemporary groups use the language of motherhood to advance their political causes, maternal rhetoric has become very visible in the American political discourse of late. Yet while it has long been recognized that women have invoked their political status as mothers to organize and authorize their political action in the past, scholars have only just begun to examine the recent reemergence of this frame. This book describes the wide variety of political causes that mothers are organizing to address, and analyses whether ideologically conservative organizations are disproportionately represented among groups using motherhood to mobilize women. Stavrianos examines the use of maternal discourses in closer detail through a comparative case study of five groups using motherhood as their primary frame for collective political action: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Million Mom March, Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, Mainstreet Moms Organize or Bust, and Mothers in Charge.

    Scholars interested in women and politics, interest group politics, social movements, political behavior, women’s studies, motherhood studies, and framing strategies will find this book noteworthy, as it adds to a growing body of literature exploring the use of motherhood as an emerging political frame, and to the interdisciplinary discussion of contemporary discourses of motherhood.

    1. Introduction. 2. The Uses of Motherhood in American Politics. 3. Motherhood Makes Strange Bedfellows: An Overview of Politically Active Mothers Groups. 4. Origins of Action: Founding Motivations. 5. Grieving Mothers, Anchor Babies and Time out Chairs: Ideological Variation in Political Uses of Motherhood. 6. The Possibilities and Perils of Political Motherhood.


    Cynthia Stavrianos is assistant professor of political science at Gonzaga University. Previously, Dr. Stavrianos taught Women's Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Political Science at Northern Arizona University. She teaches courses in American politics, women and politics, urban politics, and race and ethnic politics.Her research interests include motherhood as a frame for political action and ridicule as a response to women’s political action.