"Work it out with your wife": Gendered Expectations and Parenting Rhetoric Online

  • Rashley L
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Parents are increasingly seeking information about parenting online. However, like traditional sources of parenting instruction—family, friends, and advice books—online parenting resources communicate not only suggestions about childrearing, but also gendered expectations about parental roles. While the Internet provides space for a wide range of attitudes about parenting, from individual websites to online maga- zines to large commercial sites, many parents make use of the latter. One such representative site, BabyCenter, initially appears progressive in its attitude about equal division of labor between mothers and fathers, but a close rhetorical analysis of the site’s structure and language reveals very traditional expectations in which the mother is primarily responsible for child care. These attitudes infl uence visitors to the site as they participate in community spaces, engaging in dialogue with other parents. This arti- cle analyzes how these attitudes are presented, how parents choose online parenting sites, and how they respond to and resist the expectations they fi nd there.

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  • Lisa Hammond Rashley

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