Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Center for Gender & Sexuality Law


My basic argument is this: Motherhood is a central but confusing icon within our social structure. It is at once domination and dominated, much as mothers are both revered and regulated. The reverence and regulation are not so much in conflict as in league. The rules remind women of how to behave in order to stay revered. This reverence is something more than a fan club for mothers. It matters in such practical and concrete ways as keeping one's children, having credibility in court, getting promoted at work, and so on.