Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Call for Submissions: The Maternal Is Political

Mother-writers, please note this call for submissions, for my most recent project:

Call for Submissions: The Maternal Is Political

In the 1960s, “the personal is political” became a defining phrase for the women’s movement. Challenging the idea that a person’s circumstances were her (or his) own to transcend, “the personal is political” highlighted the need for people to address social inequities and injustices through the political process and not just as personal, unrelated problems. This insight sprang from the then-groundbreaking recognition that feelings of exclusion and exploitation are experienced not in a vacuum but within the context of a larger group, and that sources of oppression are both systemic and political and thus must be challenged and changed from within the political realm.

Although exclusion and exploitation remain a very real part of women’s experience today, enthusiasm regarding political involvement as an agent of change in our culture has waned. However, third wave feminism and an emerging mother’s movement offer fresh hope and promise for the future. How are mothers affecting the current political landscape? What are the political and social issues that matter most to moms today? How does the world of politics change when women with children become involved? What are the threads that tie motherhood and politics – and what important work is happening now at the place where the two meet?

Exploring the vital connection between motherhood and social change, The Maternal Is Political will feature 30 moving stories by women who are striving to make the world a better place for children and families: both their own and other women’s, in this country and globally. A volume of literary essays written by and for mothers -- one of the largest and potentially most influential voting blocks in the U.S. -- The Maternal Is Political is crafted to help women visualize and claim the collective political clout of mothers: motivating us to discover, appreciate, and use with greater effectiveness our tremendously powerful (and too often underutilized) political votes and voices. Possible topics include:

• Mothers working for change in the education system in the U.S. (addressing quality of education, segregation between inner-city schools and affluent, white suburban schools)
• A mother teaching her child(ren) about how to love the earth and live in ecologically responsible ways
• Getting out of poverty with kids in tow (what does this woman have to say to the government?)
• Two mothers raising their children together; how are they teaching their children about nationalized homophobia and how their lives will be affected because of it?
• A woman of color’s perspective on raising a child while fighting racism (perhaps a story from New Orleans and the connection between racism and how her children’s lives were changed by Katrina)
• How motherhood changed one mother’s political affiliation or level of involvement
• Involving children in a political campaign
• A mother’s response to her child being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan/becoming active in the anti-war movement
• How one mother helped to trigger or bring about social change in her community
• A mother’s run for political office
• Growing up as the child of a politically involved mother
• Spearheading a mothers’ political movement
• Resistance to pressure to vote as dictated by one’s culture (e.g., conservative religious communities)
• Events leading to solidarity with mothers in war-torn countries
• Mothers’ catalysts for switching political parties
• A mother helping her son to avoid the draft (or a mother planning for a potential future draft)
• A mom voting for the first time (or for the first time in decades)
• Traveling to Cindy Sheehan’s “Camp Casey” (possibly with one’s child)
• Volunteering in a political campaign for the first time
• Dealing with a child’s choice to differentiate from her/his parents politically; facing the fear and anxiety (both the child’s and the mother’s) that come with a child’s political awakening
• How a woman’s family has been affected (positively or adversely) by political role models (Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Laura Bush, etc.)
• A mother’s fight to see specific mother- or family-related legislation passed
• The effect of “the politics of motherhood” on one’s family life
• Challenging the politics of abortion under circumstances that pose significant personal risk
• Choosing for political reasons to live with one’s family in another country (or to return to the U.S. for the same reasons)
• Historical experiences of the intersection between motherhood and war (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, etc.)
• Global experiences with cultures that are more politically/governmentally honoring to mothers
• Mothers raising their children in a counter-cultural fashion, due to political convictions
• Any event that illustrates the collective political power of mothers

Potential contributors: Please note that the editor is seeking stories (with a beginning, middle, and end), as opposed to essays that merely express an opinion. Preference will be given to pieces that show, rather than tell, the story; to those that subtly elicit a response from the reader, rather than preaching; to stories that include action, dialogue, and description: the elements of great fiction.

Shari MacDonald Strong is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her essay "On Wanting a Girl" appeared in the Seal Press anthology It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters (edited by Andrea J. Buchanan). She writes the “Zen and the Art of Child Maintenance” column about motherhood and spirituality for Literary Mama, serves as editor of the creative nonfiction department at Literary Mama, writes an ongoing column for Mamazine, and is the organizer for Mother Talk™ events in Portland, Oregon. Shari worked as an editor and copywriter in the publishing industry for 15 years (most recently as a freelance contractor for a division of Random House), and her writing has appeared in a number of publications including Geez magazine. She recently has appeared as a guest blogger at Leslie Morgan Steiner's "On Balance" blog at as well as at Austin Mama. She is the mother of three children: twin boys born via gestational surrogacy and a daughter adopted from Russia, and is married to photojournalist Craig Strong ( and She blogs at

UPDATE: Please send submissions to maternal.political [at] gmail [dot] com

UPDATE 3/28/07: An updated call for submissions is posted here, with a deadline of June 1, 2007.


Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...


Maybe check out this group?

6:50 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Sounds interesting. What's the deadline? Are you looking for proposals or essays? Address to submit to?

1:30 PM  
Blogger ShariMacD said...

Great questions, Elizabeth. I don't know the exact deadline yet, although I expect it will be late spring. I'll post more on that when I'm sure. For now, I'm wiling to look at proposals and not actual essays. People can submit to my address at this blog: smacblog [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for clarifying!

12:54 PM  
Blogger CPA Mom said...


Check out this political blog that I am a member of:
I think you may find some submissions appropriate for your book. We all have strong views on current issues affecting us today and WE VOTE!

Regardless, I cannot wait to read your book. What a wonderful and necessary book!

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great project, and I'm hoping my muse will help me write a proposal for you soon. In the meantime, you might want to check out a group blog I participate in:

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I promise that the comment from CPA Mom wasn't there when I wrote. Sorry for the double link, but come visit us anyway!

8:41 PM  
Blogger ShariMacD said...

No worries, Nicole! Comments on this blog are set up to require approval (so spam will be weeded out), and sometimes I approve several at once. You know what they say: Comment early -- and often!

I'm going to check out your site. Thanks so much to you to both, and to everyone for your suggestions.

9:19 PM  

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