Mothers Rally to Save Association for Research on Mothering (ARM)
At first, the mothers were
shocked and saddened as they tried to come to terms with news of the pending
death of a dear friend. But then, almost immediately, the mood shifted to anger
and a need to take action: a refusal to allow this precious resource – a
friend to mothers worldwide – to slip away without a fight.
Why ARM matters
ARM has played a powerful role in the lives of mothers, both here in Toronto and around the world, over the past 12 years. It has hosted conferences, published books and journals, and served as a focal point for research in mothering. But, more than that, it has given women a voice at a time in their lives when many have felt voiceless – or that their experiences weren't being accurately represented by the mainstream culture.
"Association for Research on Mothering was one of the few organizations that took the practice of mothering and what it means to be a mother seriously. In a world that either ignores mothers (save for one Sunday a year) or views us only as a consumer group, ARM gave mothers from all walks of life a real voice," says Jen Lawrence of Toronto
"I never completed university; never majored in Women's Studies. A scholar, I am not. But as a mother, writer and editor, I have benefited greatly from the work of ARM and Andrea O'Reilly [founder-director of the Association for Research on Mothering]," adds Nadine Silverthorne of Toronto. "Whether it's reading well-written, thought-inspiring essays on motherhood, or attending one of ARM's conferences or gatherings, ARM sees motherhood as more than a task or a series of obligations. ARM studies modern mothers from all backgrounds, debates our arguments and brings the world the stories of diverse, brilliant women I feel proud to stand beside. ARM has helped me feel connected to others in my situation, to see similarities with women I might not have considered as peers. It would be a great shame to let this organization disintegrate."
"ARM gave many mothers community," explains May Friedman, who recently edited a book for Demeter Press, the Association for Research on Mothering's book publishing arm. "For those of us who were seeing a disconnect between what we were told about motherhood and what we experienced, ARM gave us a context beyond our individual rage in which to congregate and discuss and raise our consciousness. I am frustrated and outraged that it is closing -- I cannot help but wonder if this would occur to a research centre with a different, non-maternal mandate. I think it is shortsighted on the part of the university and unrepresentative of the current trend in academic thought toward research on mothering/motherhood. In short -- I think it sucks."
"I was astounded to discover that ARM wasn't receiving any institutional support from York," says Kate Sanagan of Toronto. "What they are asking for is such a small amount: $20,000. Then I started thinking about the power of moms online and how we could brainstorm ways to resurrect ARM; to help them to move toward a more sustainable model."
Sanagan and a group of ARM supporters that is growing in number by the hour (you can add your name to the list by emailing Sanagan at email@example.com) have committed to working together to raise that $20,000. The group expects to have a Facebook Page up shortly and will be tapping into all kinds of other online tools to keep the great ideas flowing. Judging by the early discussions on Twitter and the number of emails that have been flowing, the mothers agree: ARM must be saved. After all, ARM has been there to support mothers for the past dozen years. Isn't it time to return the favour?
How you can help
Founder-Director of the Association for Research on Mothering, is urging ARM's
supporters to take the following actions:
1. Write a letter of support on ARM's behalf to a select group of officials at York University. Their names and email addresses are listed in the letter announcing the closure of ARM (see link in top line of this post) as well as here and here).
Note: Please cc your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and please ask others who are concerned about the future of the Association for Research in Mothering to write letters as well.
Association for Research
on Mothering (ARM)
206T Founders, York University
4700 Keele Street
Canada, M3J 1P3
3. Purchase Demeter Press titles (view catalogue here and then place your order by mail, sending a cheque payable to Demeter Press).
Finally, Don't forget to let Kate Sanagan know if you're willing to help with the effort to save ARM.
Note: I will be interviewing ARM founder-director Andrea O'Reilly later this afternoon. And I have requested an interview/comment from officials at York University. I will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.