Graphic Design Seniors
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Iz Levin, Class of 2019

August 05, 2019
Thesisedited 2

THE PROJECT

Polymaternalism: A Model for Justice celebrates queer motherhood and queer reproductive justice. It investigates how those contribute to undermining systems of oppression like cisheteronormativity, misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, colonialism, and classism, and how queering motherhood can contribute to creating widespread social justice. This book is intended to be an accessible and empowering resource for the queer community, and features full transcripts of my interviews with 10 people who are either queer mothers or the children of queer mothers. Representing and including the community I seek to serve was a crucial part of the ethics of this project, and my hope has been that facilitating new queer relationships, peer learning, and solidarity around queer motherhood issues was empowering for all those involved.

The book also includes my Humanistic/Gender Studies thesis essay that connects the interviews with academic and activist discourse on queer motherhood. With my interlocutors, I explore how celebrating queer motherhood expands notions of family and social justice potentialities. To celebrate queer motherhood is to participate in queer justice, reproductive justice, decolonialism as it relates to gender and sexuality, intersectional feminism, and the history of discourse on mothering. To celebrate queer mothers is to systematically and lovingly enable the existence of all families. This can look like supporting queer mothers with solidarity, donating to organizations that support queers' reproduction and family planning, volunteering in child care, advocating for queer-inclusive and queer-parent-inclusive terminology in all sectors, unlearning monomaternalism and facilitating conversation around it, pushing for equal maternity leave for non-biological mothers, fighting for policy reform in reproductive health, and mothering queerly itself.

IZ'S ADVICE

1. Limit the scope of your project. Your experience in thesis will be less stressful and more satisfying if you aim for reasonable, specific deliverables. Even if it feels like people around you have more output, focusing deeply on one object or idea will take you far. I decided to make one book and nothing else, and that was more than enough. 

2. Your health comes before thesis! Design a project that you can complete without sacrificing your physical or mental health. You're in charge of how much work you have to do, and what you learn is more important than the measurable outcome of your project. 

3. Take this opportunity to make something that you might not be able to in a professional job setting, and don't worry about whether or not the project will get you hired. Thesis will lead you to a deeper understanding of how you want to spend your time and energy, which is a tremendous benefit to your career in itself.