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Would the feminist mothers in the room please stand up?

Chew on this: Does the term “feminist mother” constitute an oxymoron? Two months ago I threw those words into cyber space and discovered that somewhere between feminist and mother a whole lot can go wrong.

I took a picture of myself next to two four-foot high piles of laundry, talking on the phone and typing on the computer with one child in my arm and my other two standing on the dryer, a sign reading “I Am A Feminist Mother” precariously balanced on the top of the laundry pile. I did it for my I Am A Feminist Mother Photo Exhibit and Contest. And I made that contest/exhibit in preparation for the publication of my second novel, I’ll Take What She Has, a book about friendship, envy, motherhood and feminism. The response, either a shying away out of confusion, or total silence, amazed me.

On the other hand, it confirmed the very trouble I thought just such a photo project could rectify: the idea that motherhood and feminism are, at their root, antithetical.

Here’s my experience. I see conservative, religious, Republican, pro-family, anti-choice women creating mom conferences attended by upwards of ten thousand, writing hugely popular mommy blogs, and, as in the case of Michelle Duggar, gaining international fame via television. These woman do not like the feminists and the feminists don’t like their politics. Yet, these same women actively encourage mothers, seek to infuse mothering with meaning, significance and integrity, and labor ...