AustLit logo
y separately published work icon Hecate periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Issue Details: First known date: 2019... vol. 45 no. 1/2 2019 of Hecate est. 1975 Hecate
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The house husbands or SNAGS, a new phenomenon, did not see this as a permanent role and most, sooner or later, tired of a lack of life in the public sphere; despite a brief fashion for the male population's public job being private Home Duties, many men longed to re-enter the usual world; one in which important or sometimes stimulating things went on. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (in the government Department of Social Services) has regularly researched attitudes to gender roles within households in relation to things such as divided domestic work and has found, in its surveys, considerable support for shared housework. Other factors are in play in many countries, especially the incidence of child marriage (650 million girls) and of Female Genital Mutilation (imposed upon 200 million girls), the latter increasingly administered by actual health services rather than the stereotypical old, female relative with a razor blade and a sewing basket. The witches and midwives of centuries ago were one thing (documented, for example, in Barbara Ehrenreich's 1973 Witches, Midwives and Nurses) but more recently, in COVID-19 times, women are much in demand in their jobs/professions as health workers, and have been given enthusiastic encouragement to lead their working life in close contact with often viralent infections, as "essential workers"-a category that seems to have benefits for the bourgeoisie who belong to it, but not many for nurses working long and demanding shifts, wearing often-uncomfortable Personal Protective Equipment, in hospitals and infection-testing clinics.' (Carole Ferrier, Editorial introduction) 


  •  Contents indexed selectively. Other works not individually indexed include:

    Self-Portrait as Landscape by Despy Boutris

    Post-Trauma Still-Life with Chosen Family by Despy Boutris


* Contents derived from the 2019 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction. Matricentric Feminism : Abjection and Disruption in Australian Stories of Mothering, Petra Bueskens , Sophia Brock , single work criticism

'[...] it has also become a place for radical and "gender critical" feminists concerned to centre women and mothers in their work, and who retain a sense of the importance of embodiment, sexual difference and a feminist analysis of gendered power relations. While the university purports to be a place for the free expression of ideas, the post-modern turn and some more recent strands of ideological progressivism have made the free expression of the full range of feminist ideas, including those pertaining to women and mothers, menstruation, breastfeeding and child care, increasingly difficult to name, explore and analyse. [...]even as women have gained access to all domains of social life as civil equals, becoming a mother continues to generate entrenched structural inequalities, including, in particular, a pronounced wage, wealth and leisure gap. [...]we have creative writing-poetry and prose-by a range of Australian women writers dealing with the topic of motherhood and mothering and, again, we can find quite frequently a theme of loss-a loss of ideals, the loss of fantasies of perfection, the loss of security, the loss of identity, the loss of income, the loss of a child, the loss of life and more.'  (Publication abstract)

(p. 3-22, 308)
Abject Relations : Postmaternal Australia in The Babadook, Caitlin Still , single work criticism

'This article contextualises Jennifer Kent's 2014 film The Babadook (2014) within postmaternal Australia. Theorised by Julie Stephens, the postmaternal refers to a paradigm characterised by the disqualification of maternal forms of care as indices of citizenship. Stephens argues that the postmaternal has underpinned significant personal suffering in the lives of women in the thirty years since its ascendancy to ideological predominance. Kent represents the distress of her maternal protagonist, Amelia, according to the conventions of horror and the Gothic, as she mothers in a situation of extraordinary personal trauma. This paper focuses, however, upon the political dimension of Kent's representation of the maternal, and applies D. W. Winnicott's object relations theory to Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection to articulate the interplay of psychic and structural factors underpinning Kent's representation of the mother. A central contention is, accordingly, that Kent depicts a maternality subject not solely to personal trauma, but also to a societal abjection of the maternal and related forms of care upholding postmaternal capitalism. This is an abjection that Amelia depressively internalises, turning from mother to monster. Also considered is the signifying potential of haunting and monstrosity, where maternal concerns are repressed and abjected from the public sphere. Demonstrated are the political underpinnings of the maternal Gothic, and the possibility of redemption through the embrace of human interdependence.'  (Publication abstract)

(p. 23-42, 311.)
Love Art Inc.i"Once they went through the black velvet curtain the evening", Kathleen Mary Fallon , single work poetry (p. 25-133, 309)
"I Sat Back...and Waited to Die" : The Erasure of Self as a Response to Motherhood in Helen Hodgman's Blue Skies, Barbara Mattar , single work criticism

'This paper offers a close analysis of an under-researched Australian novel, Blue Skies by Helen Hodgman, that represents pregnancy and early motherhood as a burdensome, joyless responsibility from which the mother must escape. The un-named first person narrator is unable and unwilling to transition into "a role I didn't choose." Deliberately shunning the 'discourses' of a good suburban mother, the narrator chooses risk and individuality over attributes typical of "good motherhood." The narrative explores her path to self-erasure by reflecting on the natural landscape of coastal Hobart and through the use of Tasmanian Gothic (Davidson). Hodgman's text is a complete denial "matrescence" and positions self-erasure as the only possible outcome where the transition to cultural norms of good motherhood has failed. The lack of naming the mother acts as metaphor for the silence surrounding the loss of womanhood and the absence of any maternal subject position. Blue Skies is a key literary example of the views of motherhood that second wave feminism held it to be a state of erasure, where women claimed that wifehood and motherhood made them feel as though they didn't exist-a problem with no name, as Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique documented back in 1963.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 43-55, 310)
Breaking the Rules of Normative Motherhood and Family : Matrifocality, Motherlines, and the Mask of Motherhood in Sally Hepworth's The Secrets of Midwives and The Family Next Door, Andrea O'Reilly , single work criticism

'What is of interest to me about Sally Hepworth is how she, as a commercial writer using the popular literary genre of women's fiction- and who told Terri Barnes that "the goal of writing for me has always been to entertain-takes up the central concepts of contemporary maternal theory to trouble normative meanings and practices of motherhood and family. This article explores how Hepworth breaks these normative rules in her use of the theoretical concepts of matrifocality, motherlines, and the mask of motherhood. The two novels upon which I focus both employ an emphatic matrifocal perspective. In The Secrets of Midwives (2015), the motherline repositions women from a heterosexual allegiance to a matrifocal one and rescripts family as a relation of choice and commitment rather than one of biology. In The Family Next Door (2018), the unmasking of motherhood excavates the lived realities of mothering to counter normative motherhood and make possible an empowered maternal authenticity.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 56-76, 310)
Mary Leunig - The Activist Art of Blood and Guts, Denise Ferris , single work criticism

'This article examines maternal representation in the Drawings of artist Mary Leunig, positioning her work as a form of activism. Images offer collective and unspoken knowledge, and have a vast capacity to infiltrate perceptions. Recognising the power of the visual to convey narratives that challenge the established culturally dominant ideologies, I argue that Leunig visually reveals the damaging gaps between mothering, and motherhood as institution. For over three decades, her published drawings have confronted normative and accepted representations of mothering and motherhood. Her drawings represent her personal experience as a mother and also the influence of motherhood as an institution upon her experience of mothering. Leunig's drawings and their stories identify the lack of a matrifocal society, one within which, as Miriam Johnson put it in Strong Mothers, Weak Wives, mothering could be "a role that is culturally elaborated and valued." I identify themes that relate to Leunig's maternal experiences, and also the arguments of scholars critical of the domestic status quo who question mothering's traditional representations, in which women are asexual, natural caregivers. Leunig's drawings vividly show her preoccupation with the high price paid by mothers for domestic accountability, bearing responsibility for the work of care and, significantly, the emotional price also of the maternal relationship. Her drawings visualise mothers as both martyrs and the surviving heroes of a war-amidst chaotic domesticity and a family life in a deep separation from the world outside. Leunig has a difficult story and visualises difficult stories, exposing herself and baring all-her art epitomises the term "blood and guts," signifying vigour, violence or fierceness. Her visceral style may alienate some audiences but, I suggest, perceived transgression is both necessary to and emblematic of feminist history, and it also demonstrates her activism. Leunig's five books challenge an embedded view of mothering, exhibiting publicly the essential outrage that, in the feminist movement, has been instrumental to social revolution and transformational change.' (Publication abstract) 

(p. 77-100, 309)
Frontlinei"Some stories remain like bruises,", Angela Costi , single work poetry (p. 101-102)
Kostaki's Harvest Woesi"The soil here bleeds too", Angela Costi , single work poetry (p. 102-103)
'How to Drape a Saree' Bhagwanlila Exports, Varanasi, Indiai"With a blouse and petticoat on,", Angela Costi , single work poetry (p. 103-104)
Heavyi"I can see how I carry Yiayia's war", Angela Costi , single work poetry (p. 105)
Ideas for Novels 7i"Sydney gives you space to breathe", Anna Couani , single work poetry (p. 106-108)
A Child of Squalori"Unheard", Catherine Gamble , single work poetry (p. 108)
The Letteri"arrived yesterday, dropped into my mailbox by a postman who rides a", Pym Schaare , single work poetry (p. 109, 310-311)
The Wind Has No Bordersi""Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun"", Jill Jones , single work poetry (p. 110-114, 309-310.)
Hagi"Once upon a time mourning", Janet Fraser , single work poetry (p. 115-116, 309.)
Our Mothers Were Birdsi"Or ate them raw, or fried them on a gas stove with butter or ghee and", Nike Sulway , single work poetry (p. 117-124, 311)
Placenta : A Soft Sculpture for Health Education Opens up an Awkward Dialogue, Rebecca Vandyk , single work essay

'[...]within the art world a number of works portray the pregnant woman as heroic and strong, but this is suggested to be an ongoing expression of the worth of women being inherent in their fertility, rather than the works imparting a sense of personal confidence, or an embodied focus for women who birth. [...]social disgust for women's reproductive processes has permeated into birthing women's sense of self, creating notions of disgust and fear, with consequences for labour and post-childbirth. In this paper I will touch upon how public health and societal institutions have progressively eliminated our sense of comfort with, and reverence for the blood and bloodied matter that comes from the reproductive processes of the female body, and also explore how human cultural "sacred" birthing rituals have been replaced with medicalised rituals that are lacking in spiritual nurture, and how these may be contributing to the fast-escalating statistics of post-natal mental health diagnoses. [...]I will demonstrate the power of a created, artistic artefact to elicit dialogue that, while awkward at first, opens a treasure trove of human connection through story-telling and shared reverence for the female contribution of blood to the human species.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 134-153, 311)
Lily Ends It for You, Frances Wyld , single work prose
'The reindeer that they were so intent on protecting from the wolves will enter their dreams as prey. The delicate throats of the calves will become objects of ardent desires until they imagine their own teeth protruding through their lips, sharpened for the moment when they will strike and the warm blood of the calf will fill their mouths and satiate their souls. Wheeled suitcases clatter past her sitting spot as reminders that she, too, will go away soon, clattering a bag behind her, the important baggage of a life lived amongst strangers and strangeness. The mountains provided a soft bed for those who wanted to rest, and within a few generations the people had put down roots in the small villages where they left the old and the young and the infirm behind, throughout migration.' (Publication abstract)
(p. 154-174, 311)
Towards an Autoethnography of Stillbirth, Janet Fraser , single work essay

'In 2009, the author gave birth at home to her third child, and second daughter, who was stillborn. This paper is about some of that experience of birth, police investigation, the coronial inquiry and the personal aftermath over the last seven years since the inquest. There was a three-year wait from birth to inquest which was a very long gestation and a time in which she could not speak out. Between her activism on behalf of birthing women through a long campaign by doctors and some midwives to remove consumer-driven homebirth from Australian women, and her refusal to be an obedient woman, public punishment had to be devised. The paper draws out the ways in which loss is described depending upon the perceived level of social compliance of the woman, or girl, who was pregnant, including experiences of pregnancy and birth that were made public such as those of Keli Lane, a young Australian woman convicted of murdering her baby.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 175-186, 309)
The Misogyny of Surrogacy : Disappearing Women as Mothers, Renate Klein , single work essay

'In the billion-dollar global surrogacy trade, women are disappeared both as birth mothers and as genetic mothers (egg "donors"). Instead, they are viewed as breeders-gestational carriers, incubators, ovens - and invisibilised as anonymous egg "donors." Conversely, a sperm donor dad is proudly talking about being the "father of my own child." In this article, I address the misogyny of commodifying pregnant women to produce quality-tested "take-away babies" for money or love. As in prostitution, it is the rich who pay and the poor who serve-and lose the child they grew in their own bodies from their own flesh and bones over nine months. They also face potential harm to their short- and long-term health and fertility. Pregnant women lose control over their lives as they have to submit to harmful medications, numerous screenings for any "faults" their future child might have, possibly followed by foetal reduction or abortion. They also have no control over food selection and birth arrangements-all overseen by the patriarchal IVF industry that laughs all the way to the bank. As surrogacy appears to become mainstream, I suggest that we need a "mother revolution" in which women stand up and reclaim pregnancy and birth as life events in which they are fully in charge and refuse to obey a patriarchal medical miracle world. Surrogacy needs to be resisted by reducing demand. Stop surrogacy now.' (Publication abstract)

(p. 187-208, 310)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 5 Mar 2021 08:46:56