Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ronald Emerick, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Karen Dandurand, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lingyan Yang, Ph.D.


Examing popular film, news stories, and relevant literature, primarily from America published in the 20th and 21st century, one can see the theme of motherhood is explored, revealing that men and women are often given messages that reinforce prescribed gender roles. Men who engage in maternal practices are often shown in one of three ways: as a source of horrifying potentiality; as an example of comedy; or, the most rare, as a real, working model of masculine maternity. Women, on the other hand, are given another script. The push to mother, or the motherhood imperative, is often foisted upon women; the rejection of motherhood and anti-maternity is further used as a means to illustrate the converse of the ideal imperative. In many ways, this presentation is a criticism of both genders‘ performance of maternity, showing how motherhood is marketed and directed to the populace for consumption as an agent for social, moral and biological control. The push to revise the language by which we talk about maternal practices is criticized and held up as a means by which to navigate change.