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Plan B: Single Women, Romantic Love and the Making of Babies in The Back-Up Plan and The Switch
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4514-7028
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

That single women protagonists in Hollywood movies spend much of their time “finding a man” to marry and have a family with is a phenomenon as old as, well, Hollywood. As Michele Schreiber has shown in American Postfeminist Cinema: Women, Romance and Contemporary Culture, the heterosexual romance remains a powerful narrative, even as Hollywood productions attempt to stay attuned to social change. In line with this, the late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen new variations on the heterosexual romance, variations connected to the increasing availability of assisted reproductive  technologies (ARTs) such as donor insemination and IVF and the possibilities these open up for new ways of making families. Quite simply, ARTs offer the makers of these movies an array of possible new plot twists and complications.

This paper will explore ways in which the employment of reproductive technologies as plot elements activate and engage with current cultural discourses on family. It will do so through an analysis of two romantic comedies, The Back-Up Plan and The Switch, both from 2010 and both featuring single women who use insemination to become pregnant. The specific focus is on ideas of family as naturally and necessarily predicated on romantic love, a construction of family that, as Stephanie Coontz notes in The Way We Never Were, is a highly historically and socially contingent construction.  It is also presently a culturally and socially powerful one, and thus particularly worth exploring in the relatively new context of assisted reproductive technologies. As will be shown, while these movies to some extent play with traditional notions of family, the need to reconcile romantic love and motherhood is central to both narratives. Consequently, single motherhood, despite its planned and voluntary character, comes across as a state to overcome rather than a valid form of family life.

Works cited

Coontz, Stephanie. The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. BasicBooks, 1992.

Schreiber, Michelle. American Postfeminist Cinema: Women Romance and Contemporary Culture. Edinburgh UP, 2014.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
IVF, romantic comedies, American popular culture, feminism, reproductive technology
National Category
Cultural Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-72997OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-72997DiVA, id: diva2:1294370
Conference
Close Relations: A Multi-and Interdisciplinary Conference on Critical Family and Kinship Studies, Uppsala, Sweden, October 24-26, 2018
Available from: 2019-03-07 Created: 2019-03-07 Last updated: 2019-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Bonnevier, Jenny

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf