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Making Modern MothersEthics and Family Planning in Urban Greece$
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Heather Paxson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223714

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223714.001.0001

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Remaking Mothers

Remaking Mothers

From an Ethic of Service to an Ethic of Choice

(p.38) 2 Remaking Mothers
Making Modern Mothers

Heather Paxson

University of California Press

This chapter traces material, ideational, and ethical shifts in what Athenian women have been expected to do in order to demonstrate gender proficiency and be good mothers. It also tracks changing family strategies within a secularizing context of increased labor market participation, consumerist dispositions, and medical means of fertility control. The humble attitude toward fertility control corresponds to a sense that motherhood constitutes the purpose of being a woman. It draws from these narratives local critiques of modernity and patriarchy that emerge from the confluence of an ethic of service and an ethic of choice for women. The ethic of service said to have flourished before the war has not disappeared; it has been overlaid with an ethic of choice. “Old” and “new” attitudes and ethics fold in on one another, even as each is called on to explain everyday life.

Keywords:   fertility control, motherhood, labor market, consumerist disposition, Athenian women

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