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Faculty of Community Services

May Friedman




416-979-5000, ext. 2525

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May Friedman blends her passion for social work with the exploration of other fields, including motherhood studies, fat studies and analyses of popular culture. She examines the ways that social work discourses intersect with other dominant discourses. Pedagogically, Friedman has focused on social work field practice and has taught the third year practice course for many years. Her publications include writing on digital media, transnationalism, motherhood, non-normative bodies, gender fluid parenting and many other interests and topics.  

Research Interests:

Research interests:

  • Motherhood and mothering.
  • Networked media.
  • Transnationalism and transnational feminism.
  • Life writing.
  • Social policy.
  • Social work activism.
  • Feminist and poststructuralist theories and practices.

Research projects:

  • Project: Through thick and thin.
  • Year: 2015.
  • Role: Co-investigator.
  • Funding received: $75,000.
  • Funded by: Women’s College Hospital Foundation.


  • Project: Greetings from motherland.
  • Year: 2013.
  • Role: Collaborator/consultant.
  • Funding received: $27,000.
  • Funded by: Canada Council for the Arts.


  • Project: Mommyblogs and the changing face of motherhood.
  • Year: 2012.
  • Role: Sole Author.
  • Funding received: $8,000.
  • Granting body: SSHRC Aid for Scholarly Publication Program.


  • Project: Mothers under fire: Examining criminalized mothering and criminal mothers.
  • Year: 2011.
  • Role: Co-principal investigator.
  • Funding received: $7,000.
  • Funded by: SSHRC Standard Institutional Grant.


  • Project: The good mother project.
  • Year: 2011.
  • Role: Collaborator/consultant.
  • Funding received: $9,000.
  • Granting body: Toronto Arts Council.

Current Courses:

  • SWP 132: Foundations of Social Work
  • SWP 341: Transformative Social Work Practice
  • SWP 31/36 A: Social Work Practice Seminar
  • SWP 31/36 B: Social Work Field Practicum

Selected Publications:

Peer-reviewed publications


  • Friedman, M. (2015). Reproducing fat-phobia: Reproductive technologies and fat women’s right to mother. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (JMI), 5(2), 27-41.

  • Friedman, M. (2015). Unpacking MILF:  Exploring motherhood, sexuality and feminism. Atlantis:  Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice 36(2): 49-60.

  • Friedman, M. (2015). Mother blame, fat shame and moral panic: Obesity and child welfare. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, 4(1), 14-27.

  • Friedman, M. (2014). Here comes lots of judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a site of reclamation and resistance. The Journal of Popular Television, 2(1), 77-95.

  • Palumbo, E. and Friedman, M. (2014). Occupying Social Work:  Unpacking the Social Work/Activist Divide.  Journal of Critical Anti-Oppressive Social Inquiry, 1(1), 82-100.

  • Friedman, M. (2012). Fat is a social work issue:  Fat bodies, moral regulation and the history of social work. Intersectionalities: A GlobalJournal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity and Practice, 1(1), 53-69.

  • Friedman, M. (2010). On mommyblogging:  Notes to a future feminist historian. Journal of Women's History, 22(4), 197-208.


  • Teekah, A., Scholz, J., Friedman, M., and O’Reilly, A. (2015). “This is what a feminist slut looks like”: Perspectives on the SlutWalk Movement.  Toronto: Demeter Press.

  • Green, F., and Friedman, M. (2013).  Chasing rainbows: Exploring gender fluid parenting practices.  Toronto:  Demeter Press.

  • Friedman, M. (2013). Mommyblogs and the changing face of motherhood.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

  • Friedman, M. and Schultermandl, S. (Eds.).  (2011). Growing up transnational: Identity and kinship in a global era.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press.

Book chapters:

  • Friedman, M. and Poole, J. (2015). Drawing close: Critical nurturing as pedagogical practice.  In Janice Waddell, Linda Cooper and Jacqui Gingras (Eds.), Teaching as scholarship:  Preparing students for professional practice in community services. Wilfred Laurier: University Press.

  • Friedman, M. (2015).  Daddyblogs know best: Histories of fatherhood in the Cyberage.  In Elizabeth Podnieks (Ed.), Pops in Pop Culture: Fatherhood, Parenting and the Modern Family. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Friedman, M. (2015).  An Open Letter to Sinéad O'Connor and Miley Cyrus, on the topic of Sluts, Constrained Choices and the Need for Dialogue.  In Alyssa Teekah, Erika Jane Scholz, May Friedman and Andrea O’Reilly (Eds.), “This is what a feminist slut looks like”: Perspectives on the SlutWalk Movement, pp. 169-178. Toronto: Demeter Press.

  • Friedman, M. (2011). The personal, the political and the complexity of identity: Some thoughts on mothering.  In May Friedman and Silvia Schultermandl (Eds.), Growing up Transnational: Identity and Kinship in a Global Era, pp.181-189.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press.

  • Friedman, M. and Schultermandl, S. (2011). Introduction.  In May Friedman and Silvia Schultermandl (Eds.), Growing up transnational:  Identity and kinship in a global era, pp. 3-20. Toronto:  University of Toronto Press.

  • Friedman, M. (2010). It takes a (virtual) village:  Mothering on the Internet. In Andrea O'Reilly (Ed.), Twenty-first century motherhood:  Experience, identity, policy, agency, pp. 352-365.  New York: Columbia University Press.

Position Currently Held:

Associate Professor

Creative Activity
Awards and honours

Contact details

Office details

  • Office location: EPH-208D, Eric Palin Hall