vol 29 - 2003
no. 2 no. 3

Recent years have produced startling changes in the practices of motherhood, an institution always historically conditioned but now reshaped by postmillennial technologies and neoliberal economics. This issue of Feminist Studies brings together a number of important essays that illustrate, analyze, and critique current developments in a range of social and historical contexts. Their geographical sites include Egypt, India, and the United States–assisted reproduction clinics, surrogate mothers’ hostels, Ghanaian-American kitchens, child custody courts, rural garbage dumps, breastfeeding chairs, and mothers’ beds. They address who can be a mother, the gendering of parents and children, how states seek to limit and to enforce motherhood, and what social choices determine who pays the costs and privileges of parenthood.

The issue begins with Rajani Bhatia’s essay, “Constructing Gender from the Inside Out: Sex-Selection Practices in the United States,” which won the 2009 Feminist Studies Award for the best essay written by a graduate student accepted in that year. A feminist familiar with critiques of preferences for boys in India, Bhatia studies experimental and commercial practices that now allow families in the United States to select the sex of a child. Even though many of the well-off white women who use these services select girls rather than boys as their offspring, she still finds such practices problematic. Bhatia analyzes the rhetorics of popular journalism and pro-parenting Web sites to show how U.S. mothers tie gender to children’s sex and simultaneously create identities for themselves as mothers who fantasize about the pleasures of sharing ballet lessons and Barbie dolls with their daughters. Although their participants see themselves as em­powered by the choices of new technologies and the market, Bhatia suggests that the analysis of “sex selection as a form of gender-based vio­lence” in the less developed world might apply as well to the new technologies of sperm sorting and sex selection among privileged parents in the United States. {READ MORE as PDF }

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Rajani Bhatia
Constructing Gender from the Inside Out:
Sex-Selection Practices in the United States

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Amrita Pande
“At Least I Am Not Sleeping with Anyone”:
Resisting the Stigma of Commercial Surrogacy in India

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Christa Craven and Mara Glatzel
Downplaying Difference: Historical Accounts
of African American Midwives and Contemporary
Struggles for Midwifery

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Laura Briggs
Reproductive Technology: Of Labor and Markets
(Review Essay)
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Ruby C. Tapia
Race, Class, and the Photopolitics of Maternal
Re-Vision in Rickie Solinger’s Beggars and Choosers

(Art Essay)
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Laura Bier
“The Family Is a Factory”: Gender, Citizenship,
and the Regulation of Reproduction in Postwar Egypt

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Psyche Williams-Forson
Other Women Cooked for My Husband:
Negotiating Gender, Food, and Identities in an
African American/Ghanaian Household

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Creative Writing:
Cindy Elmore
On and On, Over and Over: The Gender War in Child Support Enforcement Court (Creative Nonfiction)
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Sharon Erby
Pushing (Fiction)
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Lyn Lifshin
My Mother and the Bed (Poetry)
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Cover Art:
Priscilla Carrasco, Migrant Mother, 1967.

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