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The Reproduction of Mothering

Women's maternal role has profound effects on women's lives, on ideology about women, on the reproduction of masculinity and sexual inequality, and on the reproduction of particular forms of labor power. Women as mothers are pivotal actors in the sphere of social reproduction (Chodorow 11).

Chodorow considers the evolutionary basis for women taking the role of mothering and finds that there is considerable evidence that this aspect does not explain the behavior:

Children of both sexes, though more often girls, often perform caretaking functions in addition to women. The prehistoric reasons of species or group survival which tied women to children have not held for centuries and certainly no longer hold today. . . Societies no longer need women's mothering for physical reproduction. The evolutionary-functional account does not explain why women mother today (Chodorow 28).

The biological evidence has long been accepted without a proper study as to whether it explains this behavior or not:

Conclusions about the biological basis of parenting in humans can only be speculative. But the evidence from animals, plus observations of human parenting, allow us to conclude that the hormonal basis of nurturance in particular is limited (Chodorow 29).

Chodorow similarly considers evidence from other disciplines and other conceptions of the source of gender differences from sociological interpretations through different psychological constructs. One of the facts that emerges from her study is that whether the behavior can be fully explained or not, the fact that the behavior has become associated with women has contributed to the place women have in society and the potential they possess to change their lot:

Girls and boys develop different relational capacities and senses of self as a result of growing up in a family in which women mother. These gender personalities are reinforced by differences in the identification proces...

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The Reproduction of Mothering. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:28, July 20, 2017, from
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