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Everyday Expertise, Autism, and “Good” Mothering in the Media Discourse of Jenny McCarthy

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We examine Jenny McCarthy's mediated crusade to cure and prevent autism to better understand contemporary discourses about mothering, expertise, and gender. McCarthy distrusts traditional scientific and medical expertise and exalts what have long been seen as feminine modes of knowing such as instinct and experience. Her claims dismiss the medical community as wholly corrupt while reifying women's stereotypical identity as mothers. Furthermore, her campaign demonstrates the ways in which our current ethopolitical culture – which values multiple streams of knowledge and democratizes expertise – intersects with a postfeminist culture to limit women's power and create a culture of anxiety around motherhood.

Keywords: Jenny McCarthy; autism; ethopolitics; expertise; mothering in the media; postfeminism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2013.841320

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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