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Silent bodies: Childfree women’s gendered and embodied experiences
Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5171-2783
Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: The European Journal of Women's Studies, ISSN 1350-5068, E-ISSN 1461-7420, Vol. 20, no 4, p. 376-389Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports from the first studies on voluntary childlessness in Sweden and addresses a so far neglected issue – the embodied experiences of childfree women. These childfree women reject and resist pronatalist understandings that conflate being a woman with being a mother. However, instead of explaining their childlessness by external factors, mentioned in previous research, the interviewed women created a positive feminine identity separated from motherhood with reference to their ‘silent bodies’, i.e. bodies without a biological urge to reproduce. Reducing voluntary childlessness to a mere result of biological determinism, the article argues, establishes a legitimate, natural position, less provocative and stigmatized in a pronatalist society. Nevertheless, paradoxically, drawing on biological determinism both challenges and reinstates pronatalism as it builds on the simultaneous acceptance of, and detachment from, the biological reproductive urge. The study hence highlights how persistent the social and cultural link between motherhood and womanhood is, but also how this relationship can be challenged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2013. Vol. 20, no 4, p. 376-389
Keywords [en]
Biological determinism, childfree women, embodied knowledge, feminine identity, silent body, voluntary childlessness
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-80153DOI: 10.1177/1350506812471338ISI: 000325969900005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84886415430OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-80153DiVA, id: diva2:1395591
Available from: 2020-02-24 Created: 2020-02-24 Last updated: 2020-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Peterson, Helen

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