Sara Ruddick—Reconfiguring Perspectives on Motherhood

Sara Ruddick, whose seminal 1990 book, “Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace,” helped develop a feminist perspective for reviewing and analyzing the practices and intellectual disciplines involved in rearing children, died on March 20.

We note Ms. Ruddick as a reconfigurer. She offered a context through which mothers could see, understand, and take themselves up differently and more honestly. She championed a way to alter the style of mothering. Ms. Ruddick shifted the focus away from motherhood as a social institution or a biological imperative to a responsive experience based on the attentive, day-to-day practices of educating and rearing a child.

Ms. Ruddick, from our perspective, understood motherhood as a relational activity. That is: shared, meaningful, and fluid practices that integrally shape the identities of both the child and mother. She promoted a being-with that required attention, an understanding of beliefs and values, and the realization that consistent, grounded practices, and genuine responses to a child’s demands created pathways for the choice-driven, love-founded development of child and mother.

Ms. Ruddick, a longtime professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the New School for Social Research, provided a means to reframe motherhood from a socially configured role, complete with sets of abstract quality requirements that teased one to chase perfection, to a person-to-person, moment-to-moment lived experience founded on articulated passions, driven by meaning making, and manifest in and through concrete actions and doings.

Her insights support a position of nonviolence: mothers by and through their nurturing practices and activities cannot accept or admit violence in social or workplace settings. Thus, mothers, by and through lived experience and passionate practices, must naturally resist militarism and war.

Further, in her re-articulation of motherhood and its relational, existential definition, Ms. Ruddick made a place for men as “mothers.” Since, motherhood is founded on the relationship and the practices that lead to growth and nurturing, motherhood is, from her perspective, sex-neutral. And with this comes a reframing of traditional male roles and the nature of masculinity and the paternalism.

Thank you Sara Ruddick; we are grateful for your trailblazing.

For more:
See William Grimes’ New York Times obituary of Ms. Ruddick.
review of  “Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace.”
Or investigate our Naridus 5-Minutes Helper Book™ , a tool on the power of relationships and passions.


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Innovative Women’s Leadership and Gender Efforts for Law Firms

Earlier this week the Post-Gazette highlighted the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) for giving Top Priority to gender and diversity concerns in the local legal community. We’ve had the good fortune to be part of this important work and would like to throw kudos to the ACBA’s Institute for Gender Equality, lead by Linda Varrenti Hernandez.

The Institute provides an innovative approach to change and gender initiatives by offering workshops and classes to decision-makers and practitioners that promote both hands-on and structural change.

We were asked to bring thought leadership to the decision-making side of the curriculum. We reframed the gender question from a women’s issue to a business imperative—Gender is a Strategic Business Concern, Not a Women’s Issue. In making a strong business case for women, managing partners came to understand how unquestioned assumptions about women, leadership, and workplace best-practices affect decision making, the ability to attract, develop, and retain high-quality female talent, and ultimately the growth and sustainability of their firms in a quickly changing and highly dynamic marketplace.

Congratulations to the Allegheny County Bar Association for it top-priority efforts.

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Intrafemale Trouble? Are We Really Mean?

Apparently mean girl behavior is much more prevalent than most of us want to acknowledge.

In her new book, “The Twisted Sisterhood,” Kelly Valen reveals that 88 percent of the women she surveyed felt “currents of meanness and negativity emanating from other females.”

We often encounter a flavor of mean girl behavior when we see women not supporting, mentoring, or collaborating with other women in the workplace. By not supporting one another, women perpetuate old patterns and limit opportunities for growth and positive change for all.

We are curious about your experiences and welcome your thoughts: Have you suffered from “mean girl” behavior? What flavor? Are we really mean?

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Who Is Your Female Power Model?

I just took a six-question, online assessment–Who is Your Female Power Model? The assessment is based on work by Alice Eagly, a well noted social psychologist at Northwestern University whose research focuses on gender.

Me?  To my surprise the assessment paired my style with Michelle Obama.  Now, I like that!  The next time someone asks me to compare my leadership style with someone else’s, I’ll have a very unexpected answer!

Give it a go and let us know Who Is Your Female Power Model!  What thoughts come to mind in relationship to women’s leadership and development? Were you surprised?

Looking forward to your comments.

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Why Narrative and Identity Development is Important

Since we’ve launched our new site, a number of visitors have asked “Why is narrative and identity development important?”

Narrative and identity development is an emerging and growing method through which organizations invite individuals to (1) address the core issues—which rest at the heart of living an engaged and rewarding life—of meaning and significance, and (2) create a personal narrative, the wellspring to improve self-confidence, clarify values, focus goals, and form an inspired and realistic vision of the future.

While this approach may seemingly fall outside the scope of “professional development,” it actually goes right to its core.

As participants experience the process, they catch sight of the range of their skills and talents, and come to see how who they want to be can be fulfilled by taking up roles, responsibilities, and relationship in ways that support and deepen a sense of personal identity. The development provides a means for participants to define, articulate, contextualize, and integrate their passions and aspirations in terms of work and the roles and responsibilities they take up at work. They come to see how work is meaningful, congruent, and integral to the notion of self.

This is a game changer because it ties work to self in ways that are often overlooked. A common result: leadership becomes a way of living, a way of artfully responding to the day-to-day, the minute-by-minute.

The integrative and application focus which narrative and identity development provides, helps participants reclaim, renew, or enhance motivation and energy, which in turn gives rise to commitment, engagement, participation, and the inspiration to bring out the best in themselves and others. And the narrative component provides a contextual basis often absent from or overlooked by many strength-based or appreciative perspectives.

Because narrative and identity development heads directly to the heart of how someone understands who she/he is and provides an empowering global context from which to respond to the challenges and satisfaction work provides, the process directly supports and complements other internal development efforts by acting as a keystone for job-specific skill building, behavior modeling, and technical training…. Importantly, narrative and identity development is concrete, process driven, and results oriented.

In short, narrative and identity development helps people to “switch on” in an honest and genuine manner. Why? Because they more closely meld the meaning and significance derived from work with the overall meaning and significance of their lives.

Note: As for application, flavors of the process support women’s leadership development, mixed-gender leadership development, professional development and executive coaching, as well as preparation for a role transition.

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A Few Thoughts about Narrative and Identity in Response to Reg Henry’s Column

Reg Henry, in a humorous June 30 column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brother, can you spare a narrative?, contends that most people do not know their stories and that narrative is often abused and misused to manipulate and polarize.

Following is a Naridus response. We suggest there is a fundamental ethical importance of knowing both the American Narrative and one’s personal narrative. Narrative provides the pathway for both social and individual change.

Looking forward to your response.

Reg Henry catches sight of the power of narrative, (Portfolio, June 30), to provide continuity, clarity, and sense-making to one’s world. Mr. Henry’s examples reveal how narrative is often mistaken, overlooked, or abused in the form of polarizing and self-serving spin. I don’t think it’s so much “Brother, can you spare a narrative?” as it is, “Brother, can we tell our narrative?”

For the most part we all share a common narrative—the American Narrative: a melting pot of pioneering, can-do, responsible, fair and just people who do right by their neighbor and the world. Regardless of which side of the political fence one stands, this narrative provides grounding, shared beliefs, and an American identity. When we tell the story of who we are it provides clarity of imagination for the future and sense-making for decisions in the present.

Martin Luther King called on the foundational American premise that all men are created equal to reveal the deficiency of Jim Crow and provide the core narrative roots for civil rights. Candy Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, called upon the responsible, do-right-by-your-neighbor component to supply the moral and social clarity that forever changed the indifferent, boys-will-be-boys acceptance of drinking and driving. Presently, we see the Christian influence of our narrative—the belief in stewardship—reforming how Americans review ecology and environmental choices. Too often we forget or discount our common narrative, which leads to a loss of identity, acting in ways that are incongruent with our core beliefs, and missing opportunities to live in ways that reveal the best of whom we can be.

Mr. Henry contends that many Americans have no narrative. I suggest that we each always have a narrative, but it is often not given the credence deserved. Few of us have been taught or shown the transformational, identity-integrating power of knowing and telling our story. We’re more often focused on measuring and quantifying skills and achievements, but rarely concerned to what end.

Too often our narratives are left to chance and we follow paths that may not suit our passions and callings. My experience makes clear that narrative development should be begin early. Many young adults have little clue as to why they are following the route they are following. Later in life they are often misfit for their careers, marriages, communities, which leads to unhappiness, and a yearning for something better. Brother and Sister, knowing the nuance of our American narrative can reveal the common ground from which to genuinely discuss common concerns, and see through snake oil huckerism. Taking ownership of our individual narratives helps each of us thrive, and make choices about living that serve to reveal who we can and want to be. In essence, attention to our narratives is a genuine, ethical concern.


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Are we too androgynous for sex…

Are we too androgynous for sex? When roles make passion irrelevant. No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class –

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In Sweden, the Men Can Have It…

In Sweden, the Men Can Have It All – – Giving women equal rights at work & men equal rights at home

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Friend of Naridus, John Repp, has a new Chapbook!

Hey, our good friend, long-time supporter, and knockout poet (and more), John Repp, has a just had a new chapbook, Big Canneautee, released from Seven Kitchens Press, which you may find of interest.
You can also learn more about John and his writing here.

Read! It’s good for the brain.

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great meeting today: a client …

great meeting today: a client today wants to drive women’s initiatives because it’s the right thing to do, not solely for ROI.

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