Radical Leisure: How Mothers Gain Well-Being and Control through Participation in Exercise Classes

Common Ground Research Networks
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2018, pp. ? - ? (120)
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‘Normal’ or ‘good’ mothers adhere as closely as possible to the ideology of motherhood. This involves a normative standard of a socially constructed role of someone who devotes her personal time, energy and resources to attending to the needs and welfare of her children and family. As part of the ethic of care surrounding motherhood, mothers don’t feel justified in taking time out from their daily routine. It is therefore not surprising that lack of leisure, lack of time to self and poor mental health are health issues commonly experienced by working mothers. Using Foucault’s poststructuralist notions of the concepts of power, discourse and resistance, this book suggests that exercise classes taken at a mother’s leisure offer her an outlet to challenge some aspects of her subordination. In her book, Radical Leisure, Dr. Janet Currie documents the rich accounts provided by mothers who, by participating in exercise classes, resist to find a space of their own and take control over their own lifestyle. In Radical Leisure, Janet explains how mothers engaging in exercise classes may gain mental wellbeing and ease stress levels. When mothers participate in exercise classes, they can also feel in greater control of their body shape, but may use the classes in an attempt to shape and discipline their bodies to look a certain way. Mothers can choose what the classes mean to them, liberating or constraining. However, the sense of freedom and stress relief mothers gain from exercise class participation is well worth the effort.
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