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Calling for nothing less than a radical reform of family law and a reconception of intimacy, The Neutered Mother, the Sexual Family, and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies undertakes an ambitious and even revolutionary rethinking of the law's approach to the family.
This new book by one of America's foremost feminist legal theorists argues strongly against current legal and social policy discussions about the family because they do not have at their core the crucial concepts of caregiving and dependency, as well as the best interests of women and children.
Unlike other work focusing on similar themes, The Neutered Mother argues that is the nurturing tie between mother and child, and not the sexual bond between husband and wife, that should be protected and subsidized as the center of society's concern for the "family." Martha Fineman is especially interested in pointing out the importance of nurturing work to the larger society as well as making a connection between mothering and other kinds of caregiving. She explains that the symbol of the child may stand for the elderly, the ill or the disabled just as the symbol of the mother is not strictly tied to gender--women can choose not to be mothers (or caretakers) and men can become mothers when they do the caregiving work associated with motherhood.
The Neutered Mother scrutinizes the definitions of family and mother throughout the volume while paying close attention to issues of race, class and sexuality. In addition, Fienman convincingly contests society's refusal to dignify, support and respond to the needs of caregivers and illustrates the burden they must bear due to this treatment.
The Neutered Mother is a crucial step toward defining America's most pressing social policy problems having to do with women, motherhood and the family.