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How might your role in the family or household influence your interaction with the nuclear world? Feminists have drawn attention to how these roles are often stratified by gender, linked to gender segregation and inequality in the workplace and sustained by powerful cultural norms around motherhood. The writing activities that follow aim to help you analyse critically how women’s association with homemaking and mothering shapes their entry into nuclear industries or anti-nuclear activism.

There are four writing tasks associated with this activity. The first asks you to unpack the role of gender in women’s anti-government activism, and reactions to it, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. The second task is a critical analysis of ‘maternalist’ motivations at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in the UK. The third task asks for short answers in response to questions about the variety of roles women played at Oak Ridge, as part of the Manhattan Project. Finally, you will assess how ideas and imagery have been mobilised by the organisation ‘Mothers for Nuclear’. 

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Divisible Explanation This activity consists of four tasks: 'Radiation Brain Moms'; 'Greenham Women'; Women of Oak Ridge', 'Mothers for Nuclear', which could be separated into different class sessions if required. The tasks do not necessarily have to be completed in order: the instructor could choose to set one or two of the tasks or set them in a different order. The one exception is that the Greenham Women activity should be undertaken before the Mothers for Nuclear activity, in order that students have some grasp of maternalism before engaging with the latter case study. Instructors may also choose to vary the length and type of written assignment for each task.
Learning Objectives
  • recognise the range of subject positions women have occupied in relation to nuclear technologies
  • recognise the intersection of gender with racialised and other hierarchies in the production of these different subject positions
  • identify how motherhood tropes have been mobilised both for and against those technologies, and both by women and against them
  • evaluate the impact of motherhood tropes on nuclear industries and on women's lives

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