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Lesbian Motherhood: Stories of Becoming

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Abstract

A unique practical application of poststructuralist theory to lesbian mothers’ narratives, Lesbian Motherhood: Stories of Becoming analyzes the personal stories of 40 lesbian mothers to discover the complex ways their sense of self is constructed in the current legal, political, and social climate. These intimate narratives are examined by using Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s conceptual framework to understand subjectivities by focusing on the many flexible lines of movement that constitute subjectivities, or ‘becomings.’ This unique source reveals deep insight into a lesbian's construction of self through her stories about her own sexuality, parenting, and other experiences in becoming a mother.
... More and more researchers question the dichotomy between resistance and subversion and show its potential harm for queer people in their reality (Hequembourg 2007;Lewin 2009;Ryan-Flood 2009;Hicks 2011). For example, while researching gay fatherhood, Ellen Lewin shows that they are somewhat between a rock and a hard place. ...
... In such context, displaying or even manifesting one's normality or better ordinariness is an act of resistance, challenging homophobic prejudices and contesting heteronormativity of kinship. A quasi-similar tendency in presenting lesbian and gay parenthood has been already noticed in older Western studies (Wright 1998;Hequembourg 2007). For example, Amy Hequembourg (2007) shows the contradictions inherent in the normalisation strategy adopted by her informants who desired to be like others to overcome the dominant stereotypes, although they were painfully aware of their own otherness. ...
... A quasi-similar tendency in presenting lesbian and gay parenthood has been already noticed in older Western studies (Wright 1998;Hequembourg 2007). For example, Amy Hequembourg (2007) shows the contradictions inherent in the normalisation strategy adopted by her informants who desired to be like others to overcome the dominant stereotypes, although they were painfully aware of their own otherness. However, this apparent resemblance should be treated with extreme caution of not maintaining a false perception of Poland as "lagging behind the West" which I have already criticised at the beginning of the book and elsewhere . ...
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Queer Kinship on the Edge explores ways in which queer families from Central and Easter Europe complicate the mainstream picture of queer kinship and families researched in the Anglo-American contexts. The book presents findings from under-represented localities as a starting point to query some of the expectations about queer kinship and to provide insights on the scale and nature of queer kinship in diverse geo-political locations and the complexities of lived experiences of queer families. Drawing on on rich qualitative multi-method study to address the gap in queer kinship studies which tend to exclude Polish or wider Central and Eastern perspectives, it offers a multi-dimensional picture of ‘families of choice’ improving sensitivity towards differences in queer kinship studies. Through case studies and interviews with diverse members of queer families (i.e. queer parents, their children) and their families of origin (parents and siblings) the book looks at queer domesticity, practices of care, defining and displaying families, queer parenthood familial homophobia, and interpersonal relationships through the life-course. This study is suitable for those interested in LGBT Studies, Sexuality Studies, Kinship and Eastern European Studies.
... The media and conservative pundits have framed lesbians as unfit parents because their children presumably have no father figure. Popular rhetoric has pathologized lesbians, portraying them as oversexed, egocentric, and immoral, and their relationships are critiqued as unstable (Hequembourg 2007). ...
... In this literature, assimilation refers to practices aimed at stressing similarity or normalcy. For example, many lesbian mothers in Lewin's (1993) and Hequembourg's (2007) studies emphasized their similarity to other heterosexual families and downplayed their lesbian identities, thus preventing difference from being constructed as deficit. Alternatively, some scholars and lesbians themselves have argued that lesbian families actively resist patriarchal oppression by their very existence and everyday parenting decisions (Dunne 2000;Hequembourg 2007;Sullivan 2004). ...
... For example, many lesbian mothers in Lewin's (1993) and Hequembourg's (2007) studies emphasized their similarity to other heterosexual families and downplayed their lesbian identities, thus preventing difference from being constructed as deficit. Alternatively, some scholars and lesbians themselves have argued that lesbian families actively resist patriarchal oppression by their very existence and everyday parenting decisions (Dunne 2000;Hequembourg 2007;Sullivan 2004). ...
Article
My dissertation broadly examines the impact of legal inequality on planned lesbian families, and particularly on co-parents. Data come from in-depth interviews with 27 women in planned lesbian families who conceived a child (themselves or with a partner) via artificial insemination. I explore how co-parents’ legal inequality affects their ability to create equitable families and also how co-parents negotiate a parental identity in a hostile legal and social climate with no institutional scripts to draw on. The first part of my dissertation sheds light on the importance of the availability of legal second-parent adoption for achieving equality in lesbian relationships and illustrates how crucial power is in relationships, even when partners are same-sexed. Previous research found that the majority of lesbian couples tend to value and accomplish parity in their relationships, providing grounds for optimism about the diminution of power as a component of intimate relations in such families. However, due to sample accessibility, previous research has been limited to states where both women had parental equality under the law. In contrast, the present study finds that the quality of the couple relationship is profoundly affected by legal strictures. I apply Lipman-Blumen’s (1984) concepts of marcomanipulation and micromanipulation to understand how legal inequality creates conditions that lend themselves to a power dynamic in lesbian families that mimics traditional heterosexual marriage. The second part of my dissertation explores the process by which co-parents construct parental identities when there are no institutional scripts to draw on. Previous research assumed that co-parents seek a mother identity, but this study illustrates that not all co-parents desire that status. Rather, they actively carved out a parental identity that reconciled their sex, gender identity, and role in the family. Co-parents’ identity construction was made difficult due to threats from legal and social discrimination, along with incongruence between their gender identities and motherhood norms. As a result of these struggles, co-parents in this study identified in one of three ways: 1) As “mathers,” 2) as fathers, or 3) as other mothers. Insofar as co-parents successfully unhinge the relationship between woman and mother, they provide a provocative challenge to gendered family arrangements.
... The desire for children was depicted as part of a natural, evolutionary process in family formation. Some co-mothers ascribed this normal desire for children to naturally occurring, biologically-based desires (Park, 2013) encoded in female DNA (Hequembourg, 2007). Some narrated having always been psychologically aware of a biologically induced desire to procreate, invoking the cultural sense of women as "natural or born mothers," as "maternal." ...
... In mainstream U.S. culture, the normal way a family is formed is presumed to be the result of a man and woman marrying and producing biological offspring. By definition then, the very nature of a two-woman family resists this presumed natural order (Hequembourg, 2007); two women having sex does not naturally produce offspring. By extension, co-mother families are often characterized as unnatural by society at large . ...
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This study examined co-mother family of origin stories. Origin stories, representing the formation of a family, are culturally understood within a master narrative of heterosexual love and biological childbearing. Beginnings of co-mother families rupture this dominant, gendered, boy-meets-girl script. Investigating whether or not co-mother stories reify the normative master narrative or if instead their narrations resist and/or possibly transform conventional understandings, analysis identified three co-mother origin story themes: Becoming a Family (1) as Normal, (2) as Negotiation, and (3) as Normalization. Themes differ in terms of depiction of co-mother family formation as congruent with current norms, as something that needs to be made to seem normal (i.e., in need of normalization), or as something between normal and normalization—to be negotiated internally within the couple. Study results are discussed within a broader framework of family coming-together stories.
... In the last three decades, works in queer family studies have explored the emergence of two-mother households, mainly based in Euro-American societies and under the frameworks of psychology, sociology, medical technologies and ethics (Dunne, 2000;Goldberg & Sayer, 2006;Hequembourg, 2007;Hequembourg & Farrell, 1999;Lewin, 1993;Mamo, 2007;Marina et al., 2010;Wright, Cole, & Rothblum, 1998;Ziv, 2020). Although this paper focuses on a lesbian couple conceiving children by means of planned ARTs to form a family, it should be acknowledged that the lesbian step-family is the traditional and most common form of family made up of two mothers in the Euro-American contexts-the children having been conceived in one or both lesbian(s)' previous heterosexual relationships and now sharing the household with both female parents (Mizielinska, in press;Pelka, 2009;Wright et al., 1998). ...
... Different from lesbian step-families, going through ARTs as a lesbian couple means they "opt into motherhood," which radically disrupts norms in reproduction (Dunne, 2000, p. 13). In their parenting, lesbian mothers resist and accommodate existing patriarchal and heterosexual norms at the same time to negotiate their social identity and roles of mother (Lewin, as cited in Hequembourg, 2007); therefore, lesbian motherhood should not be studied within the binary frame of resistance versus assimilation: rather, it instantiates both of them (Hequembourg, 2007). ...
Article
Lesbian motherhood is an emerging practice among Chinese lesbian couples. Although this form of family-making might be appealing to Chinese lesbians who cannot legally marry their partners, lesbian mothers are subject to substantial risks and challenges arising from the lack of recognition by Chinese authorities and other family members. This study focuses on an anonymous lesbian’s confession about her motherhood. It conducts a case analysis to investigate the incompatibility between transnational reproductive services and national household regulations and Marriage Law. This study analyses the persistence of patriarchy in a lesbian family, which suppresses women’s agency both corporeally and in family roles. Through this analysis, this paper intends to explore lesbian mothers’ vulnerabilities as they face a continuum of patriarchal exploitation in the absence of legal and social recognition. It also questions the radical challenge that lesbian motherhood is often assumed to make to male dominance and gendered norms.
... Non-heterosexual women are claimed to be unable to maintain long-term relationships, because they are immoral, egocentric and never able to fulfil their sexual desire to the fullest. (Hequembourg, 2007). In the Polish context particularly the Church discourse of sin has its power, yielding the moral value to one's intimate choices, along with conservative discourse of politicians, which relates on the one hand to Church teachings and to pathologization and psychologization on the other. ...
... They may enter discourses of resilience to norms or accommodation, as being aware of cultural mechanisms of motherhood, parenthood and adjusting to them for various reasons. When referring to Polish realities, it might be noticed that the strategy which is mostly used by non-heteronormative couples when describing their relationships and families, is normalization of parenting experience, described by Hequembourg which evokes through description of a relationship and family as ordinary and normal, not being different from a heterosexual one (Hequembourg, 2007). Heroines of press reportages refer to sameness of their practices and experiences to heterosexual couples: ...
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You should/mustn’t be a mother: intersectionalities of gender and sexuality within non-heteronormative women familiesIn this paper I aim to illustrate the intersectionality of sexuality and gender within non-heteronormative women families with usage of intersectionality framework from the classical text of K. Crenshaw Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, which analyzes the structural, political and representational intersectionalities. Taking into consideration the impossibility to embrace all identity constructs and intersections between them, I’m going to focus on two dimensions: gender and sexuality, which, as I will try to illustrate, are crucial for studying realities of inequalities faced by non-heteronormative women parents in Poland. Powinnaś/Nie wolno ci być matką: intersekcjonalność gender i seksualności w rodzinach nieheteronormatywnych kobietCelem artykułu jest przedstawienie intersekcjonalności seksualności i gender w rodzinach nieheteronormatywnych kobiet w oparciu o metodologię klasycznego tekstu K. Crenshaw Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, w którym analizie poddana została intersekcjonalność strukturalna, polityczna i reprezentacyjna. Biorąc pod uwagę niemożność uchwycenia wszystkich konstruktów tożsamościowych i ich wzajemnych relacji, skupię się na dwóch aspektach: płci kulturowej i seksualności, które jak postaram się zobrazować, mają decydujący wpływ na nierówności napotykane przez nieheteronormatywne kobiety-rodziców w Polsce.
... Changing sensibilities about motherhood as a source of patriarchal domination have caused a shift in the debates about lesbian motherhood (Lewin, 1993). Nevertheless, lingering tensions persist among lesbians regarding the issue of whether or not motherhood represents heteronormative assimilation (Hequembourg, 2007). In addition to sampling issues and research design, another reason that similarities in lesbian and gay parenting experiences typically go unrecognized is because of the underlying assumption that the desire to parent is somehow more fundamentally or even biologically intrinsic to women (Lewin, 2006). ...
Article
Research on lesbian and gay parenting has stimulated theoretical advancement in family studies. Subjective understandings of lesbian and gay parents offer scholars a novel lens through which to view identity construction, management, and negotiation. Triggered by a recent queer shift in family research, however, some lesbian and gay parenting scholarship has begun to critique identity theories as constructing hegemony around the identity “gay” or “lesbian” in that they assume a uniform subject. Queer theory challenges the foundations of identity scholarship; unpacks the assumptions that underlie research on families, gender, and sexualities; and deconstructs how the rubric of difference has framed and limited existing knowledge. I conclude with suggestions for complicating and expanding queer theory.
... Moreover, much societal and legal reluctance to accept lesbians as good mothers derives from fear that their children will be psychologically harmed or more likely to identify as homosexual (Thompson 2002), despite considerable research evidence to the contrary (Stacey and Biblarz 2001). Media pundits and politicians have also pathologized lesbian parents, portraying them as egocentric and immoral and their relationships as unstable (Hequembourg 2007;Richey 2010). Women who fail to mother in ways congruent with motherhood ideals are subject to "deviance discourses" (Miall and March 2006, 46) and to being labeled as unfit or bad (Arendell 2000). ...
Article
This article argues that to gain a more complete understanding of how lesbian families experience parenthood outside of the heterosexual context, scholars must consider how co-parents negotiate a parental identity, rather than presuming that women parents want to mother. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 17 women in a state that denies them parental legal rights, this article asks how a non—biologically related and non—legally related woman parent determines a parental identity in a social system that continually reminds her of her liminal position. Interviewees divided roughly evenly into the self-identified categories of “mother” and “father” and a collectively generated category of “mather,” a hybrid of the two words. The word mather served to anchor co-parents in otherwise uncertain seas, but the other groups felt their parental identity was significantly constrained by ill-fitting role expectations based on gender. We conclude by addressing the possibility for alternative family forms to transform the institution of gendered parenting.
... Lesbian mothers are held accountable for their perceived nonconformity, as others react with discomfort, skepticism, and sometimes outright denial of the lesbian family form. Such disconfirmation can lead to rejection, decreased social support, vulnerability for lesbian families, and can create barriers between female coparents (Biblarz & Savci, 2010;Dalton & Bielby, 2000;Hequembourg, 2004Hequembourg, , 2007. The ways mothers cope with such stressors is essential to the well-being and security of family members and to reducing others' heteronormative discrimination and prejudice. ...
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Although lesbian mothers are often called to justify their family's legitimacy, we know little about these interactions. The current study included 44 female coparents across 10 focus groups discussing the interactive process of discursive legitimacy challenges. Using the theoretical framework of remedial accounts (Schönbach, 1990), inductive and deductive coding revealed several existing and new types of challenges, accounting strategies, and evaluations relevant to interactions of lesbian mothers. Communicative processes unique to the interactions of female coparents included challenges emerging from societal master narratives (e.g., health care, education, politics, religion); accounting strategies such as leading by example; and evaluations related to the ways in which children render the family acceptable. Findings offer strategies for coping with the discursive challenges lesbian mothers encounter.
... The first primary discourse identified, the DEM, reinscribes the centripetal cultural ideology of essential motherhood. Essential motherhood, referred to as the "quintessential" form of motherhood, is rooted in a biological, singular, heteropatriachal view of motherhood, and remains positioned as the universal, idealized prototype to which all US women should be held accountable (Hequembourg, 2007). Given its culturally normative and taken-for-granted status, essential motherhood often remains unexamined and invisible, engendering it ideological power. ...
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Framed by relational dialectics theory (Baxter), this investigation considered the meaning(s) of motherhood in female-female co-motherhood. Analysis identified two competing discourses: (1) discourse of essential motherhood (DEM) and (2) discourse of queer motherhood (DQM). Speakers' invocation of the DEM reinscribes the mainstream US cultural discourse that children can have only one authentic (i.e., biological) mother, whereas invocation of the DQM denaturalizes the DEM's presumptions of authentic motherhood as biological, interrupts monomaternalism, destabilizes the patriarch, and troubles the equation of biological with moral motherhood. Whereas interpenetrations of the DEM and DQM were typically sites of adversarial discursive struggle, in a few instances, the DEM and DQM rose above their antagonistic relationship, combining to create new meanings of motherhood.
... Selfless and self-sacrificing mothering is regarded to be part and parcel of contemporary motherhood ideals (Wall, 2013). Feminist scholars point out how women have generally been raised to place the needs of others above their own and are constructed as being nurturing and selfless (Hequembourg, 2007). ...
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This article focuses on lesbian mothersʼ emotional experience of motherhood. It forms part of a larger qualitative and exploratory study with 10 lesbian couples in South Africa on their lived experience of planned motherhood. The study is located in a feminist phenomenological framework. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants described many different emotions associated with new motherhood: hope, joy, love, anxiety, helplessness, exhaustion, and feeling companionship and togetherness as well as feeling compromised and deprived. Mothers described these emotions, but also focused on the development of a new identity, that of being a mother.
... 157). Hequembourg (2007) doubted they were entirely correct (p. 132). ...
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Are the outcomes for children of gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents in general the same as those for heterosexual parents? That controversial question is discussed here in a detailed review of the social science literature in three parts: (1) stability of same-sex parental relationships, (2) child outcomes, and (3) child outcomes in same-sex adoption. Relationship instability appears to be higher among gay and lesbian parent couples and may be a key mediating factor influencing outcomes for children. With respect to part 2, while parental self-reports usually present few significant differences, social desirability or self-presentation bias may be a confounding factor. While some researchers have tended to conclude that there are no differences whatsoever in terms of child outcomes as a function of parental sexual orientation, such conclusions appear premature in the light of more recent data in which some different outcomes have been observed in a few studies. Studies conducted within the past 10 years that compared child outcomes for children of same-sex and heterosexual adoptive parents were reviewed. Numerous methodological limitations were identified that make it very difficult to make an accurate assessment of the effect of parental sexual orientation across adoptive families. Because of sampling limitations, we still know very little about family functioning among same-sex adoptive families with low or moderate incomes, those with several children, or those with older children, including adolescents or how family functioning may change over time. There remains a need for high-quality research on same-sex families, especially families with gay fathers and with lower income.
... Thus findings that children of LGBTQ parents show developmental "normalcy" have often been used to advocate for LGBTQ people's rights to become parents and retain custody of their children, while findings demonstrating these children's "difference" have been used by their political adversaries (Gibson, 2014a(Gibson, , 2014b(Gibson, , 2015Patterson, 2005Patterson, , 2016. 5 LGBTQ parents themselves have responded to dominant concerns about how gender and sexuality operate in diverse ways. Some follow what Lisa Duggan has termed homonormativity and emphasize their sameness with "mainstream" (heteronormative) families (Duggan, 2003;Hequembourg, 2007). However, the mantle of such tenuous respectability is variably available to LGBTQ individuals and families, particularly alongside race, class, and gender expression and identity (Riggs, 2007). ...
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How are lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer (LGBTQ) parents of children with disabilities categorized by service providers, and how do parents anticipate, interpret, and respond to such categorizations? This intersectional study investigated the experiences of LGBTQ parents of children with disabilities with service providers in Toronto, Canada. Parents described pressures to “fit” into providers’ limited understanding of family. Some parents described facing overt discrimination, including one parent who was seen as a possible sexual predator. Some described being perceived as representatives of “diversity” for organizations, or “pet lesbians” in the words of one couple. Others described being misread as a non-parent, as in “just the nanny”, particularly in conjunction with their racial minority status. Parents described how their experiences of being “outside the mainstream” helped them challenge systems and normative beliefs. Findings suggest that a context of scarce disability resources shapes parents’ experiences of how LGBTQ identity comes to matter.
... Esto es así para la madre no gestante claramente, pero también para la madre gestante, ya que la reconfiguración de roles afecta a ambas. Esta oportunidad podría suponer un alejamiento de la tendencia a conceptualizar las maternidades lesbianas en base a las similitudes y diferencias con las maternidades "normales" o tradicionales, como sugiere Hequembourg (2007). ...
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Few studies have examined lesbians’ and gay men’s parental decision-making processes. Our goal in this work was to review what literature says about this understudied area of research. We first looked at transformations that have made it possible for lesbian- and gay-parented families to gain visibility. We then described how parental aspirations of lesbians and gay men have been operationalized. Factors shaping parental decisions were categorized as sociodemographic (gender, age and cohort, and race/ethnicity), personal (internalization of anti-homosexual prejudice and openness about one’s non-heterosexual orientation), relational (one’s partner’s parental motivation and social support), and contextual (work conditions, access to LGBT support networks, information and resources, and social, legal, and medical barriers). Research findings were discussed and implications for future research and social policies regarding the issue of prospective lesbian and gay parenthood were drawn.
Chapter
As the contemporary fathering and family landscape grows increasingly more complex, a growing body of scholars are beginning to expand knowledge on the social matrix of men’s relationships with children by exploring the experiences of gay men as potential and active fathers. This chapter provides an overview of the existing empirical and theoretical scholarship on gay fathers and their involvement with children. In addition to reviewing the dominant themes in the literature, we detail the changing legalities facing gay fathers and their families, suggest implications for policy makers and practitioners, and offer practical resources for educators.
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This chapter examines the understudied question of how lesbians and gay men choose to become parents or remain childfree. The limited research suggests that several factors shape how lesbians and gay men decide to become parents or remain childfree, including personal considerations, support networks, work-related issues, and intimate partner relationships. Existing research also suggests that the role of these factors in parental decision making is shaped by race, class, gender, and sexuality. In general, those with greater race and class privilege tend to have greater access to material resources, to receive greater support from family members, and to intentionally decide to become parents. This chapter reviews past literature on lesbian and gay parenting decisions, suggests new questions for further research, and discusses how studying lesbian and gay men’s parenting decisions informs our understanding of families in general. Reviewing the literature shows how lesbian and gay men’s parenting decision-making processes are socially constructed. In addition, the chapter sheds light on why and how diverse family forms develop at particular historical moments in time. One of the most pressing questions for future research is how race, class, disability, nationality, and geographic location shape parenting decision-making processes.
Chapter
This chapter examines ideas about hospitality for all in early childhood care and education (ECEC) in Aotearoa New Zealand. ECEC has a unique relationship with hospitality through te ao Māori (the Māori world view) and manaakitanga (looking after people). Although Te Whāriki, (Ministry of Education, 1996) Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood education curriculum, espouses a kaupapa (philosophy) of welcome through the Whānau Tangata Principle (Family and Community) most ECEC environments tend to be heteronormative (Gunn & Surtees, 2004). Heterosexuality is therefore pervasively established as the only option for adult sexual and life partnerships. Research suggests that, for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ), hospitality in educational settings can be in short supply (Allen & Elliot, 2008). In 2006 I conducted a study into the experiences of a group of gay mothers in a range of ECEC centers. In this chapter I argue that, despite the heteronormative nature of ECEC settings (see Gunn & Surtees, 2004; Robinson, 2005), some teachers demonstrated an authentic hospitality to the families in my research. The involvement of families and whānau in ECEC requires teachers to have a commitment to ethical practice and democracy. Meaningful collaboration provides opportunities for teachers to listen, and to make space for the Other (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005). My study showed that hospitality has the potential to confront and disrupt the pervasive presence of heteronormativity. I begin this chapter by describing the context for LGBTQ, and ECEC in Aotearoa New Zealand, followed by an examination of relevant constructs of hospitality. I then briefly outline my research project and share and discuss stories from my study with reference to two key ideas about hospitality: hospitality as hosting and hospitality as curriculum.
Article
Legislation in New Zealand would suggest that there is a liberal and accepting attitude towards diverse families in this country, yet discrimination and heteronormative expectations are strongly evident. In this article I report the findings of a study of the experiences of lesbian-parented families in early childhood centres. Seventeen gay women from twelve lesbian-parented families were asked about their experiences, and their children’s experiences, in a variety of early childhood education settings. The findings, which are discussed in terms of a theory of heteronormativity, describe the steps the women reported they needed to take to prepare their children to cope in a heteronormative world. I conclude that, despite seemingly supportive legislation, this group of gay mothers felt it necessary to protect their children from heteronormativity and to prepare them for coping with discrimination.
Article
Lesbian couples seek to become parents in a heteronormative world and in the context of complex biological, social, and legal challenges that may constrain same-sex parenting. Because of these constraints and challenges, lesbian couples experiencing a reproductive loss may encounter issues that heterosexual couples typically will not. Prior to pregnancy, lesbians may experience loss and grief because they cannot conceive a child together without the assistance of a third party. Same-sex families are marginalized; simply deciding to become parents leaves them open to criticism and negative judgment. If pregnancy is not achieved or does not end in a live birth, lesbian couples face decisions about how, whether, and who to conceive a subsequent pregnancy. Although laws vary by state, the social (nonbiological) mother may not have legal status as the child's parent; therefore, the decision of which partner to become pregnant is especially significant. In the event of a reproductive loss, the grief of the social mother might not be acknowledged. Lesbian couples will benefit from the care of a nurse who understands and is accepting of the complex contexts within which they face the challenges of reproductive loss.
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While a few have argued that social science has been subject to progressive biases, others have discounted such ideas. However, no one has yet performed empirical tests over a large range of studies for such possible bias, which we label macro-level social desirability (MLSD). Combining the results from fifty-nine empirical studies that assessed rates of nonheterosexuality among children of same-sex parents, we found that the higher the maximum rates reported, the less likely those reports were to have been cited in Google Scholar by counts or by annual rate, which may reflect MLSD. However, after several statistical controls, the association for counts became non-significant, while the association for rates became stronger, although the effect sizes were in a moderate (d = .28 or higher) to large range (d, up to .68) by either analysis. Generally, research quality acted as a suppressor variable for MLSD but was significantly related to both counts and rates of citations, indicating that higher quality articles were more likely to have been cited, even controlling for the number of years since first publication. Higher quality articles were slightly more likely to report higher rates of nonheterosexuality among children of same-sex parents. We discuss implications of our findings and suggest future directions of research.
Article
Heterosexism and patriarchy collude to create an expectation of pregnancy for all women. In addition, the bodily production of pregnancy has been socially gendered as feminine because of its association with female-bodied people. These two ideological codes-that all women should become mothers through pregnancy and that pregnancy is a femininely gendered endeavor-suggest conundrums for masculine lesbians. This study relies on interview data with 14 childfree masculine-identified lesbians about the ways in which they are able (or unable) to imagine themselves as pregnant people in their future lives. Participants' navigation of the concept of pregnancy reveal the complexity of gendered bodies and gender practice.
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Building on more than two decades offeminist analysis of the family, this article takes a neoinstitutionalist approach to examine some of the ways that sex, gender, and sexual orientation intersect in lesbianheaded two-parent families, affecting how they construct their roles as mothers. Institutionalist theory tends to de-emphasize how actors deliberately construct social arrangements such as parenting roles within the family. The authors' analysis of interviews from 14 lesbian mothers remedies this deficiency by focusing both on how they draw upon and transform institutionalized scripts, practices, and understandings of family roles and relations. Their findings reveal how these mothers reinscribed gendered understandings while simultaneously challenging heteronormative ones in their efforts to construct and maintain socially viable two-parent families.
Article
This article analyzes the arguments of two of the central positions in the debate over assimilationism in the gay and lesbian community as a means of exploring the meaning of resistance, opposition, struggle, and agency within the context of a dominant and generative field of power. Instead of debating which position is better or most effective, or which involves "true resistance," we use Foucault's formulations to suggest that each represents but one among a multiplicity of strategies, all existing simultaneously in a field of power. Because this field is composed of a plurality of dissonant, multilayered, multidimensional relations of power, we argue that no single form of resistance can be identified and uniquely practiced. Instead, each struggle contributes its own partial modification to the overall transformation of the field of power, and simultaneously highlights the inconsistencies faced by agents who attempt to present a coherent identity in opposition to structures of domination.
Article
Part of the intellectual and political movement to provide homosexuals equal rights and opportunities under the law extends to homosexuals and bisexuals seeking custody of their biological children after divorce and/or custody of an adopted child. Family courts take into consideration parents' sexual orientation when considering custody decisions. To date, the data based research on children reared by homosexual parents is sparse. A search of the published literature identified fourteen data based studies which addressed some aspect of homosexual parenting and its effects on children. Each study was evaluated according to accepted standards of scientific inquiry. The most impressive finding was that all of the studies lacked external validity, and not a single study represented any sub-population of homosexual parents. Three studies met minimal or higher standards of internal validity, while the remaining eleven presented moderate to fatal threats to internal validity. The conclusion that there are no significant differences in children reared by lesbian mothers versus heterosexual mothers is not supported by the published research data base.
Article
This article revisits Irigaray's theory of sexual difference in the light of more contemporary developments in terms of nomadic becomings and non-unitary subjectivity, especially in Deleuze. It defends the notion of embodied materiality on philosophical grounds, by linking it to the issues of power, access, hegemony and exclusion, which are central to post-structuralism. Through a detailed analysis of the sexual politics of difference feminism, the author argues for a non-reactive redefinition of the feminine as a project of becoming, and connects it firmly to feminist discussions about gender and queer theory.
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The identity of lesbian-mother combines a marginalized identity (lesbian) with one of the most revered mainstream identities (mother). With data collected through exploratory in-depth interviews from nine lesbian-mothers, the authors use symbolic interaction framework to explore the strategies that lesbian birth mothers and comothers employ to gain acceptance for their marginal-mainstream identities in their family networks. Respondents experienced varying levels of resistance from their social networks, with comothers being especially vulnerable due to their lack of both biological and legal substantiation. The authors explore the process of identity negotiation in three realms of everyday experience: in relationships with extended families, in relations within the nuclear family, and in lesbian relationships that have ended.
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This article analyzes the author's experience performing public sociology on same-sex marriage and gay family rights issues in order to illustrate the paradoxical and tacitly conservative conditions that structure contemporary public sociological discourse. It demonstrates how, under contemporary conditions of globalized, market-driven communications technologies and neoconservative discursive frames, performing public sociology reinforces positivist epistemology, regardless of one's goals. Paradoxically, the arena of sound-bite sociology exploits reflexive and semiotic knowledge to convey research in rhetoric that reinforces the positivist, normalizing ideological regime that the former seek to deconstruct.
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Lesbian mothers and families encounter significant discrimination and oppression in many areas of life. This paper discusses the history of lesbian motherhood as well as the current social, political, and economic conditions faced by such families. The role of the therapist is also discussed.
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Forty‐five lesbians who are also parents provided information on their families of creation via a researcher‐designed questionnaire. The purpose of the study was to gather descriptive data about the family lives of the women, using an ecological perspective for interpretation of results. The major findings revealed that the women were cognizant of the impact of their sexual orientation on their children, that they were vigilant about maintaining the integrity of their families, and that the stress they felt was buffered by social support networks.
Article
The author explores the concerns of lesbian mothers and their partners. Twenty-eight lesbian couples who were raising children participated in structured interviews. Results suggested that lesbian parents and co-parents are deeply committed to creating strong families. The primary concern of parents related to worry about potential social difficulties for their children. The diverse ways the women came to motherhood illustrate the trend toward alternative insemination and adoption within the lesbian community. Implications for practice are offered.
Article
Conducted a longitudinal study to examine the psychological well-being, family relationships, and the formation of friendships/intimate relationships among individuals raised in lesbian families. 25 young adults (aged 17–35 yrs; 8 males) from lesbian families and 21 aged-matched controls (12 males) raised by heterosexual single mothers were interviewed regarding their family and peer relationships, sexual orientations, and psychological adjustment. Ss raised by lesbian mothers functioned well in adulthood in terms of psychological well-being and of family identity and relationships. The commonly held assumption that lesbian mothers will have lesbian daughters and gay sons was not supported.
Article
This article is part of alarger project exploring the continuity betweentwo philosophical positions – that of Frenchpoststructuralist Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)and John Dewey – that appear at first sight tobe separated by time, place and culture. Thescope of the present paper is necessarilylimited and focuses on one aspect of theproject, namely: the problematics ofsubjectivity, or subject formation, inDeleuze's philosophy. Deleuze's position isestablished as pragmatic by virtue of itssharing the value allotted by Dewey toexperiential and experimental inquiry inphilosophy. By drawing initial parallels with anumber of selected Dewey's excerpts, this paperaims to open up a space for the imaginarydialogue between two philosophical thoughts soas to consider a possibility for applyingDeleuze's philosophy to educational theory andpractice in the context of current debates andin a manner continuous with the Deweyan legacy.The paper concludes by affirming Deleuze'splace in the contemporary scholarship on Dewey.
Article
The effect of biological motherhood on parents' transition to parenthood and their division of labor is a much contested issue. This paper explores the impact of biological motherhood in a unique context—lesbian parenthood—where biological requirements can be analytically separated from gender effects. The analysis is based on a study of 25 middle-class lesbian couples' transition to parenthood and their division of labor. Each couple had at least one biological child under the age of six and all children were born within the context of the couples' relationship. I conducted in-depth interviews with each partner and all participants filled out a short questionnaire. The distinction between the biological and non-biological mother affected couples in three domains of motherhood: public, relational, and personal motherhood. Comothers countered public ignorance, social and legal invisibility, and the lack of biological connection to the child by sharing primary childcare and establishing a distinct parenting role within the family. The participants employed various models of the division of labor to provide one full-time mother for as long as economically possible. Desire to be with the child, economic considerations, and strong commitments to equality and shared motherhood rather than biological requirements informed decisions about leave strategies and long-term paid work arrangements. Time/availability proved to be the best predictor of involvement in family work. Conflicts erupted whenever one partner perceived the other as not doing her fair share of domestic work.
Article
The author reports on 37 children who are being raised by female homosexuals or by parents who have changed sex (transsexuals): 21 by female homosexuals, 7 by male-to-female transsexuals, and 9 by female-to-male transsexuals. The children range in age from 3 to 20 years (mean = 9.3) and have lived in the sexually atypical households for 1-16 years (mean = 4.9). Thirty-six of the children report or recall childhood toy, game, clothing, and peer group preferences that are typical for their sex. The 13 older children who report erotic fantasies or overt sexual behaviors are all heterosexually oriented.
Article
Societal values determine the appropriateness of motherhood. These values are reflected by a society that believes the married heterosexual woman to be the most appropriate to parent. It is these appropriate mothers who form the apex of a three-tiered hierarchy that consists of women who are defined as (a) most appropriate, (b) marginally appropriate, or (c) least appropriate. This paper explores lesbian motherhood within the social context of American society. The "motherhood hierarchy" is presented as a conceptual framework for viewing lesbian mothers, and evidence from the literature supporting the existence of this hierarchy is integrated throughout the discussion. Special attention is paid to the inappropriate mother, and focus is placed on the antilesbian mythology that supports it.
Article
Recent surveys of lesbians have revealed that one-third have been heterosexually married, and one-half of these have had children. Studies comparing lesbian mothers and their children with divorced heterosexual mothers and their children provide data of value to clinicians preparing to evaluate or treat members of this population. Studies show similarities between the two groups in marital history, pregnancy history, child-rearing attitudes, and lifestyle. Motherhood, not sexual orientation, is the most salient factor in both group's identity. Lesbian mothers had more congenial relations with ex-spouses and included men more regularly in their children's lives. Coupled lesbians had greater economic and emotional resources and provided children with a richer family life than did mothers of either group living alone with children. No difference in frequency not type of psychological problem was found in the children. Children benefited from group discussions to relieve anxiety about changes in their lives and in their mothers' sexual orientation.
Article
Two types of single-parent households and their effects on children ages 3-11 years were compared. One type comprised 50 homosexual mothers and their 56 children, and the other was a group of 40 heterosexual mothers and their 48 children. There were 30 daughters and 26 sons of homosexual mothers and 28 daughters and 20 sons of heterosexual mothers. The sexual identity and social relationships of the children were assessed in relation to the sexual orientation of the mothers. The samples consisted of families from rural and urban areas in 10 American states. All have lived without adult males (18 years or older) in the household for a minimum of 2 years (average 4). Families with heterosexual mothers were matched to families with homosexual mothers on age and race of mother; length of mother and child separation from father; educational level and income of mother; and number, age, and sex of children. Data are reported from childrens' tests designed to provide information on general intelligence, core-morphologic sexual identity, gender-role preferences, family and peer group relationships, and adjustment to the single-parent family. No significant differences were found between the two types of households for boys and few significant differences for girls. Concerns that being raised by a homosexual mother might produce sexual identity conflict and peer group stigmatization were not supported by the research findings. Data also revealed more similarities than differences in parenting experiences, marital history, and present living situations of the two groups of mothers. The postulated compromised parental fitness of lesbian mothers, commonly asserted in child custody cases, is not supported by these data.
Article
An anonymous survey of 23 gay and lesbian parents and 16 heterosexual single parents was conducted in order to see whether the parents' homosexuality created special problems or benefits or both, for their children. Both sets of parents reported relatively few serious problems and generally positive relationships with their children, with only a minority encouraging sex-typed toys, activities, and playmates. Heterosexual parents made a greater effort to provide an opposite-sex role model for their children, but no other differences in their parenting behaviors were found. Gay and lesbian parents saw a number of benefits and relatively few problems for their children as a result of their homosexuality, with lesbians perceiving greater benefits than gay men. Conversely, the gay males reported greater satisfaction with their first child, fewer disagreements with their partners over discipline, and a greater tendency to encourage play with sex-typed toys than did the lesbians. The findings suggest that being homosexual is clearly compatible with effective parenting and is not a major issue in parents' relationships with their children.
Article
Thirty-seven school-age children reared in 27 lesbian households were compared with 38 school-age children reared in 27 heterosexual single-parent households, with respect to their psychosexual development and their emotions, behaviour and relationships. Systematic standardized interviews with the mothers and with the children, together with parent and teacher questionnaires, were used to make the psychosexual and psychiatric appraisal. The two groups did not differ in terms of their gender identity, sex role behaviour or sexual orientation. Also, they did not differ on most measures of emotions, behaviour and relationships--although there was some indication of more frequent psychiatric problems in the single-parent group. It was concluded that rearing in a lesbian household per se did not lead to atypical psychosexual development or constitute a psychiatric risk factor.
Article
Forty children ages five to 12, divided equally into groups according to their mothers' sexual object choice and within group by sex, were assessed by a research team. Gender development of the children was not identifiably different in the two groups. Prevalence of disturbance among the children was not found to be a function of the mother's sexual object choice. Case material is used to illustrate the variety and complexity of the issues involved.
Article
Children's play and activity interests as indices of sex-role behavior were compared for a sample of lesbian and heterosexual single mothers and their children. More striking than any differences were the similarities between the two groups of children on acquisition of sex-role behavior and between the two groups of mothers on encouragement of sex-role behavior.
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Reviews the findings of lesbian family research published between 1980 and 1996. The research describes characteristics of lesbian families, and challenges faced by these families, in the context of heterosexist and homophobic societal attitudes. The research reveals lesbian parents and their children to be healthy, secure, and quite effective in negotiating the many challenges that accompany their stigmatized and minority status. Lesbian couples are confronted by an environment that disavows their unions, challenges their right and fitness to parent, and denies them basic civil and legal protections to individual and family security. Yet, they have succeeded in creating nurturing, egalitarian families in which they are bearing and raising well-functioning, well-adjusted, and socially tolerant children.
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This paper explores how social psychology has theorized the relationship between the individual and society. This is done through a genealogical analysis of the Social Identity Tradition (SIT). It is argued that the current state of SIT is profoundly shaped by a range of intellectual and moral strategies derived from the work of Henri Tajfel. This 'Tajfel effect' manifests itself as a way of settling theoretical, practical and moral disputes through the invocation of Tajfel as a founding figure. However, this strategy also ties SIT into a model of the subject and an understanding of society that is increasingly seen as problematic. The paper then goes on to show how a range of core concepts at the heart of SIT may be usefully reformulated by drawing on the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Their work offers SIT a way of thinking about individuals and groups as sites for connection and differentiation. This is illustrated using the example of Nazi social relations that was originally deployed by Tajfel. Potential issues and direction for SIT as reinvigorated by the encounter with Deleuze and Guattari are then sketched out.