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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

M/Otherhood: We are all invested in the Future: Narratives from Women who are not Mothers

Quaid, Sheila (2019) M/Otherhood: We are all invested in the Future: Narratives from Women who are not Mothers. In: Parenting: Nature Nurture Future 3, 9 November 2019, Thought Foundation Community Arts Birtley Gateshead.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


In this paper I present early and interim narratives from a recent pilot study. I conducted interviews with a range of women who are not mothers as I became aware that the voices of women who are not mothers, for whatever reason, are often missing in analyses of maternal ideology. This pilot data collection with sampling of women who are NOT mothers forms stage one of research which will be used to capture a ‘snapshot’ of experiences to support a chapter on women who are child-free. I critique pro natalist ideologies which suggest that all women’s bodies should be reproductive bodies. These ideologies affect all of us as women. Mothers and non-mothers both live with assumptions and ideas about our bodies and reproductive autonomy remains contested in most societies. The pilot reveals narratives of loss and grief emerged for those those who yearned for a child or children but could be mothers. Motherhood for lesbians was seen as dangerous and transgressive but also the choice not to have children for single heterosexual women creates “Otherhood” and for women in relationships with men produces ambiguities, assumptions and judgements about how women without children are positioned in cultural narratives of the ‘maternal’. History tells us that when women take control of reproductive bodies either by organising their own motherhood or deciding against motherhood the punishments are severe as she is constructed as ‘other’

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Depositing User: Sheila Quaid


Item ID: 11376

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ORCID for Sheila Quaid: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 09:21
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2020 13:58