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Join us for a morning of Movement and Motherhood: Celebrate motherhood in all its forms this May with a real conversation with Amy Westervelt. Start-off the morning centering yourself with movement, in a warm-up series of exercises to focus the body and the mind. Then stay for breakfast and an intimate conversation with Amy
A clear-eyed look at the history of American ideas about motherhood, how those ideas have impacted all women (whether they have kids or not), and how to fix the inequality that exists as a result.
After filing a story only two hours after giving birth, and then getting straight back to full-time work the next morning, journalist Amy Westervelt had a revelation: America might claim to revere motherhood, but it treats women who have children like crap. From inadequate maternity leave to gender-based double standards, emotional labor to the "motherhood penalty" wage gap, racist devaluing of some mothers and overvaluing of others, and our tendency to consider women's value only in terms of their reproductive capacity, Westervelt became determined to understand how we got here and how the promise of "having it all" ever even became a thing when it was so far from reality for American women.
In Forget "Having It All," Westervelt traces the roots of our modern expectations of mothers and motherhood back to extremist ideas held by the first Puritans who attempted to colonize America and examines how those ideals shifted--or didn't--through every generation since. Using this historical backdrop, Westervelt draws out what we should replicate from our past (bringing back home economics, for example, this time with an emphasis on gender-balanced labor in the home), and what we must begin anew as we overhaul American motherhood (including taking a more intersectional view of motherhood, thinking deeply about the ways in which capitalism influences our views on reproduction, and incorporating working fathers into discussions about work-life balance).
In looking for inspiration elsewhere in the world, Westervelt turned not to Scandinavia, where every work-life balance story inevitably ends up, but to Japan where politicians, in an increasingly desperate effort to increase the country's birth rates (sound familiar?), tried to apply Scandinavian-style policies atop a capitalist democracy not unlike America's, only to find that policy can't do much in the absence of cultural shift. Ultimately, Westervelt presents a measured, historically rooted and research-backed call for workplace policies, cultural norms, and personal attitudes about motherhood that will radically improve the lives of not just working moms but all Americans.
Book signings will be at the end of the morning, with books available for purchase on-site.
About Amy Westervelt
Amy Westervelt is a journalist and the founder of Critical Frequency, a podcast network started in March 2018. Her book Forget "Having It All"—How America Messed Up Motherhood and How to Fix It is a historical and intersectional look at how American ideas about motherhood were formed and how they've shaped the lives of women, whether they have kids or not. The book was published November 2018 and has been featured on Marketplace, The Brian Lehrer Show, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, and more. Amy also reports, hosts and produces the podcast Drilled, a true-crime podcast about climate change that's featured as a "bingeable listen" in Apple Podcasts. Her network also produces and distributes ten other shows on a variety of topics, all made by women. In 2015 Amy was awarded a Rachel Carson award for her role in starting the climate reporting group Climate Confidential, which syndicated climate change stories to multiple national outlets; in 2016 she won a Murrow Award for her radio series on the impacts of the Tesla gigafactory; and in 2018 she was the Journalism and Women Symposium entrepreneurial fellow. (Twitter @amywestervelt)
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