Lesbian mothering

My long-term relationships have all been heterosexual. This is a personal blog, but I do want to point out not all mothering comes in one package. This is, pretty obviously, something I originally wrote for a class. The paper was about families with monogamous, lesbian mothers. I welcome the work of others in order to hear and share people’s first-hand experiences!

Lesbian mothering is an empowering and feminist act in a heterosexist, patriarchal state. Lesbian mothering is not an issue in itself, however heteronormativity constructs it as so. Therefore, it is important to study queer mothering on its own as opposed to simply lumping it into one monolithic group of feminist mothering. As author Baba Copper says, “There are issues important to lesbian mothers that heterofeminists do not address.” It is almost important not to create one narrative for an enormously diverse lesbian mother population.

Audre Lorde and Katherine Arnup both write about being open about their same-sex relationships, in their respective readings, and the positions their children feel society puts them in for having a non-heteronormative family structure. Homophobia is not a matter restricted to the schoolyard, but also the workplace, “Interestingly enough, it is the teachers at this school who still have not recovered from [my son’s] openness [about his mother],” writes Lorde. Lorde writes that she is raising black children in a racist, sexist world. It is not homophobic taunting her son Jonathan reports hearing regarding his mother at school, but racial slurs. In addition to re-defining gender roles, if not abolishing them completely, feminist mothering introduces thought that challenges intersectional forms of oppression like racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, etc. Arnup was told by one daughter of a lesbian mother that she interviewed that this daughter was made aware of racism at an early age because of her mother’s queer, feminist mothering. Lorde’s son says the strongest benefit he has received from having a lesbian mother is he does not have the same hang-ups about gender roles as other kids. The most negative aspect he felt was the ridicule he got from some kids with straight parents: “‘You mean from your peers?’ I said. ‘Oh no,’ he answered promptly. ‘My peers know better. I mean other kids.’”

The patriarchy fear lesbian mothering because it is the most obvious way a woman can show her children that survival without a man is possible. This realization proves that there are choices outside of heteronormative structure for women, and more options for women means more power for women. “I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself,” writes Lorde, “and by being honest with them about what I find there, without expecting a response beyond their years. In this way they begin to learn to look beyond their own fears.”

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