course logo Written Assignment:
Motherhood, Parenthood, and Custody
due February 29

Answer all the following questions; when referring to the readings, cite properly, including page numbers and a full citation at the end of the assignment.

1. With regard to the primary caretaker presumption, Carol Sanger writes, “Consideration of custody now starts not from a preference for gender equality with custody rules falling in behind, but from an assessment of what having custody of a child means—in many ways a description of mothering—and the legal implications that follow from that” (876). Discuss this statement in the light of the definition of the primary caretaker presumption as it appears in Garska v. McCoy. Do you agree that this legal definition actually assesses “what having custody of a child means”? Why or why not? Explain Mary Ann Mason's criticisms of the primary caretaker presumption. Do you agree with her objections? Why or why not? How does this legal standard relate to the gender neutral vs. special protection debate that we have been discussing?

2. Ashe and Cahn argue that “Feminism is limited to the degree that it fails to give some account of aspects of women that seem ugly or undesirable. . . . In its attempt to give an account of alternative women's realities, feminist theory must explore the different forms that those realities take” (925). We have read two articles that attempt to view “alternative women's realities” from the inside, from the perspective of the women stigmatized and criticized by society. Choose either the article by Austin or that by Ashe and Cahn, explain the key issues raised in the article and describe your reaction to them. How do you think legal theory can best and most fairly deal with this type of difficult situation?

Daniel McCarthy <>
Barbara F. McManus <>
HON303/WMS303 Topics and Assignments I
February 2000