Towards a feminist re-imagining of motherhood

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

Like this podcast? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Candida Hadley, Susanne Marshall, and Andrea Smith about the Halifax Motherhood Collective. They are working to develop grassroots feminist understandings of motherhood and to provide opportunities for mothers to come together, share their experiences, and imagine new ways for mothering (and for other aspects of the work of caring and social reproduction) to happen in our society.

Becoming a mother -- or, with some gendered differences, also other sorts of parents who play a significant caregiving role -- can be really, really hard. Yes, it can be wonderful too, and have moments of satisfaction and joy and fulfillment, but for many women, those initial years as a mother come along with an incredible weight of social isolation, personal constraint and intensely regulatory expectation.

Candida Hadley, Susanne Marshall, and Andrea Smith are all mothers. They all also have histories of grassroots political involvement of various sorts, including in feminist politics. So a few years ago when they were hanging out and talking about being moms -- about the isolation and about all of the other motherhood-associated challenges -- it was a perfectly natural step for them to take those conversations in public directions. As the Halifax Motherhood Collective, they have held several events over the last couple of years. Importantly, this work has involved rethinking the practicalities of what a parent-and-child friendly grassroots event actually looks like -- something most movements and grassroots organizations grounded in the dominant culture completely ignore, even when they pay token attention to providing child care. And through these events, most promiently Alternative Mother's Day gatherings in the last two years, they have given mothers and other parents a chance to come together, share their experiences, and collectively develop politics flowing from critical analyses of contemporary ideologies and diverse lived experiences of motherhood. In particular, they have developed an analysis that points to the nexus of capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism in shaping the social organization and ideologies of motherhood that dominate in North America today. Hadley, Marshall, and Smith talk with me about those experiences and critical analyses; about the collective; and about how they hope to build on this work in the future.

To learn more about the Halifax Motherhood Collective, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.