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AHRC-funded 'Motherhood in Post-1968 European Literature Network' Workshop Papers

Changing Models of Motherhood? Hideous Progeny and Mother-Blame in Ana García-Siñeriz, Esas mujeres rubias (2011)


Abigail Lee Six

About Abigail
Abigail Lee Six is Professor of Spanish at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published on a wide range of Spanish writers dating from the 19th century to the present day, but most recently has been working to bring the usefulness of Gothic studies to the attention of Hispanists and demonstrate the relevance of Hispanic texts to Gothic scholars beyond the Pyrenees. This research has produced several articles and two monographs so far, one on the fiction of the contemporary novelist Adelaida García Morales, Haunting Words (Boydell & Brewer, 2006) and the other, Gothic Terrors (Bucknell University Press, 2010), on a selection of mainstream Spanish writers. Her research in this and other areas always takes gender into consideration and she was therefore happy to sit on the steering committee of the interdisciplinary research network on Motherhood in post-1968 Europe, which gave rise to the article in the present issue.
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Esas mujeres rubias (2011) [Those Blonde Women] by Ana García-Siñeriz is a Spanish novel giving a mother's first-person account of her life to date, including losing her only daughter at age fourteen due to a condition called Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Although other motifs are present, the core of the story is maternal bereavement – its causes and its effects – and inextricably bound up with this is a depiction of motherhood across three generations: that of the narrator in the present day; her mother, in the Franco years; and her maternal grandmother before that. The article compares the experiences and attitudes of the three women and explores the presentation of mother-blame in the novel in order to try to determine whether these fictional characters reflect a constant in our cultural conceptualization of motherhood or, on the contrary, a phenomenon which has either gained or lost traction over time. In particular, it explores and questions the issue of maternal choice inextricably bound up with this and debates the view found in real-life research that women today have significantly more choice about motherhood than in previous generations, arguing instead that what has changed are only the specifics of how, why and over what choice is exercised, rather than any step change from no choice to real freedom of choice. The novel offers a vivid dramatization of the limitations to maternal choice across the generations and how these inflect mother-blaming, showing that there seems to be no sign of the phenomenon's waning.

How to Cite: Lee Six, A., 2013. Changing Models of Motherhood? Hideous Progeny and Mother-Blame in Ana García-Siñeriz, Esas mujeres rubias (2011). Studies in the Maternal, 5(2), pp.1–19. DOI:
Published on 01 Jul 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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