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Troubling MotherhoodMaternality in Global Politics$
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Lucy B. Hall, Anna L. Weissman, and Laura J. Shepherd

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190939182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190939182.001.0001

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Ideal Citizens and Family Values

Ideal Citizens and Family Values

The Politics of Reproductive Fitness

(p.103) Chapter 7 Ideal Citizens and Family Values
Troubling Motherhood

Anna L. Weissman

Oxford University Press

Motherhood is political, fundamental to the social (re)production of values, norms, and culture. This chapter shows how the institution of Motherhood, “family values,” and traditional gender roles have been coopted by the rhetoric of the nation and institutionalized by the state as a site of difference, (re)producing Insiders and Outsiders, exclusionary logics of collectivity, and embodied national boundaries. The chapter first identifies and defines “biological” reproductive difference as the foundation of traditional sex/gender roles, particularly emphasizing the focus on procreation in normative femininity. Reproductive difference is foundational to Western patriarchal society and its definitions of kinship, family, and sociopolitical belonging. I differentiate the patriarchal institution of Motherhood and the active “mothering,” showing how the institution of Motherhood privileges heterosexual, reproductive sex and essentializes the (cisgender/heterosexual) female body as necessarily reproductive. This normative maternal identity is racialized and can be seen through the politics of reproductive fitness. I examine this through an analysis of differences in sterilization laws and practices across the globe. Sterilization is accessible and/or enforced differently based on one’s identity; gender/sexual orientation, race, class, and ability dictate both historically and in modern society voluntary and involuntary sterilization practices. Ultimately, I demonstrate that one of the products of the institution of Motherhood is a normative model of raced female sexuality: a necessarily reproductive, white female sexuality.

Keywords:   reproduction, repronormativity, motherhood, nationalism, sterilization, sexuality, gender, race

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