In almost every culture, women are perceived to fulfil Project M, it’s like her anatomy predetermines her fate. In most cases, the ideas about woman are crucially linked to marriage, maternity, and motherhood. But is this really a natural phenomenon? By the way, yes, we’re still on the same page, this is an Usagi Drop post.
By examining the women of this series—Masako, Haruko, Nitani, and Daikichi’s mom—one of the things that I noticed about Usagi Drop is it tries to hit its viewers on the emotional level by showing that the “mother” is the kin relationship most expressive of biological fact. The relationship between mother and child is peculiarly “natural” because of the indisputable fact that the woman has given birth to the child. But at the same time as Daikichi and Rin duo shows, Bunny Drop challenges the notion of having a “complete” family and the role of the mother in the growth and development of the child.
As we have witnessed in Masako’s character, giving away and disowning a child were two of the most condemned decisions that a woman can do. That’s because between the two sexes, pregnancy, labour, and lactation are exclusive to female attributes. These biological processes were used to naturalize the function of a woman in the society, and bequeathed her a specific role of becoming a mother—to reproduce and nurture a child. But if we’re going to think deeply about the concept of “mother”, we can see that it is not really given as a “natural” process. What I’m trying to say here is, because such biological activities are exclusive to a woman, it doesn’t mean that she has to reproduce, fertilize, and even nurture her own child. Hence, the association between “woman” and “mother” is by no means as “natural” as it might at first.
Now, say I’m Masako’s lawyer, if we’re going to abide solely on biology, scientific cellular mechanization and whatnot, then I could’ve won the case and proven that Masako is not guilty of being a bad mother because biological facts of motherhood don’t necessarily produce a universal and immutable mother-child relationship or unit. However, the world is not just comprised of black and white, and not even the rainbow shades are enough to colour this socially constructed world. The mother-child relationship represents a specific practice of social and emotional responsibility, because “mother” is a social notion that embodies the dependency that is inevitable in the form of the “child”.
For instance, when Haruko run off from home, she brought Reina with her regardless of how heavy her baggage is and how she doesn’t really have any source of income. Another example is Nitani. She single-handedly raises Kouki, and her type of parenting shows that maternal love isn’t restricted to daily childcare or physical proximity. Hence because of these normalized human ideologies and ethics about mother and child, I can never fully prove that Masako is not guilty of being an appalling mother. I believe she herself is also experiencing guilt and remorse to what she had done. Indeed, she certainly lacks resources, emotional support, and maturity; however in the eyes of the society, these excuses are not sufficient enough to leave Rin just like that, even though she left her child in Grandpa’s family .
Thus, as shown by the women of Usagi Drop, the notion of being a woman is always tied to motherhood based on the underlying biological and social definition. However, regardless of this concept, parenting isn’t exclusive to mothering alone. As exemplified by Daikichi and Rin, a mother figure isn’t necessary in raising, nurturing and loving a child–what’s important is who is willing to be part of the family.
- Here is my first article about this series: Deconstructing the Definition of A Family — Idea From Usagi Drop
- Have you ever wonder why almost all baby history books have a picture or drawing of mother and child, but not father and child? Normalized?