Episode 19

Breaking Down Patriarchy and the Institution of Motherhood – with Lane Anderson and an Anonymous Guest

Published on: 17th May, 2022

In her landmark book, Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich writes that “At certain points in history, and in certain cultures, the idea of woman-as-mother has worked to endow all women with respect, even with awe, and to give women some say in the life of a people or a clan. But for most of what we know was the “mainstream’ of recorded history, motherhood as institution has ghettoized and degraded female potentialities.” In this quote, Rich highlights the stark difference between the way our cultural thinks it respects women and the way it actually regards them. It can be a wonderful thing to praise mothers — to celebrate the women around us who channel their love, energy, and resources into the art and the work of raising children — but too often we forget that our cultural ideal of a ‘mother’ is not always accessible nor is it the ideal motherhood for all women. So what happens when a mother doesn’t match up to our institutional expectations? And what happens when a woman decides she doesn’t want to be a mother at all?

On today’s episode, we're digging into these questions as we’re joined by two spectacular guests each trusting us with her own story of how motherhood as an institution has haunted their lives: an Anonymous Contributor who speaks about the realities of unwed motherhood, and returning friend of the podcast, Lane Anderson, who shares her own experiences of having the mantle of motherhood assumed and foisted upon her.

Lane Anderson (she/her) was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has an undergraduate degree from BYU, and a graduate degree from Columbia University. She has spent much of her career as a full-time journalist, publishing hundreds of articles on inequality, human rights, gender, and social and family issues. She has received several Society of Professional Journalists Awards, and a fellowship from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism for her writing on human trafficking. She lives in New York City with her partner and young daughter, and she is full-time faculty at New York University where she is a Clinical Associate Professor teaching writing. She co-writes Matriarchy Report, a newsletter about family issues from a feminist perspective on Substack, and on Instagram @matriarchyreport

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About the Podcast

Breaking Down Patriarchy
An Essential Texts Book Club
Breaking Down Patriarchy is a podcast for everyone! Learn about the creation of patriarchy and those who have challenged it as you listen to bookclub-style discussions of essential historical texts. Gain life-changing epiphanies and practical takeaways through these smart, relatable conversations.

About your host

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Amy Allebest

I grew up in Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, reading, writing, drawing, singing, and practicing the piano and violin. I attended Brigham Young University, where I met Erik Allebest during my first week of freshman year, studied abroad in Israel, lived in Chile for a year and a half as a missionary, and married Erik all before graduating with a degree in English. Erik and I moved around - to Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Spain, and Northern California - while Erik started and ran chess businesses for a living (primarily chess.com) and I stayed home to raise our four children. Those four kids have become brilliant, hilarious people and are our very best friends. I am a long-time trail runner, a recent CrossFitter, a lifelong reader and writer, and an almost-graduate of Stanford University's Master's of Liberal Arts program.