University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre for Family Research Seminar Series > In Search of Doctors, Donors and Daddies: Lesbian Reproductive Decision-Making

In Search of Doctors, Donors and Daddies: Lesbian Reproductive Decision-Making

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A growing number of lesbian women are choosing to embark on parenthood in the context of an openly lesbian lifestyle. Previous research has often focused on the experiences of children in these families. More recently, researchers have turned their attention to the subjectivities of lesbian parents themselves. This paper will explore sexual citizenship and lesbian reproductive decision-making in two European countries. The ways in which lesbians may reinvent prevailing discourses of parenthood in local contexts has rarely been addressed. In this paper, discourses of fatherhood among lesbian parents in Sweden and the Republic of Ireland are explored, based on interviews with 68 participants. Lesbian parents in both countries shared a preference for a known donor. However, Swedish lesbian parents placed a strong emphasis on a donor who would play an active parenting role. In contrast, Irish participants preferred donors to have no involvement in parenting. The significance of biology to kinship was both destabilised and reinforced, while gender and parenting discourses were also reinvented in complex ways. Reproductive decision-making among lesbian parents reflects hegemonic discourses of fatherhood in both countries. The ways that these discourses are subverted and reinscribed reveals the situatedness of lesbian parents in national contexts, where the ‘Other’ is also nonetheless deeply embedded in local discourses. This therefore enables a reconsideration of ‘queering’ by lesbian parent subjects, whose reproductive decision-making may be characterised by both subversive and normative aspects in complex ways.

This talk is part of the Centre for Family Research Seminar Series series.

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