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Invisible Mothers: A Content Analysis of Motherhood Ideologies and Myths in Magazines

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to identify prevalent motherhood ideologies and myths in contemporary women's magazines. The results indicate that contemporary magazines promote a traditional motherhood ideology, yet perpetuate motherhood myths that undermine mothers who stay home. Traditional motherhood, which excludes Women of Color and employed mothers, is promoted. Mothers are almost exclusively presented in the domestic, rather than the public or integrated domestic–public, contexts. Myths that employed mothers are busy, tired, and guilty, and that employed mothers neglect and are unattached to their children, are not upheld. However, negative myths that at-home mothers are confused, overwhelmed, and interested only in superficial topics are upheld in the magazines analyzed. The implications of these results on the perpetuation of patriarchy are discussed.
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