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BookReview: RETHINKING LESBIAN MOTHERHOOD Amy Hequembourg Lesbian Motherhood: Stories of Becoming New York and London: Harrington Park Press, 2007, 191 pp., ISBN 978-1-56023-687-0


Barrett, Helen


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Abstract 132 BookReviewRETHINKINGLESBIAN MOTHERHOOD Amy Hequembourg Lesbian Motherhood: Stories of BecomingNew York and London: Harrington Park Press, 2007, 191 pp., ISBN 978-1-56023-687-0SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/13505068080150020402Helen BarrettBirkbeck, University of LondonHequembourgproposes a refreshing new approach to the depiction of lesbian motherhood.She presents a well-informed review of relevant studies and a cogent delineationof the social and political context of lesbian motherhood. Hequembourg suggeststhat it is time to move beyond dichotomizing discourses that have tended tostunt thinking about the nature of lesbian motherhood by locating it withinreductivist conceptualizations that portray it as a discrete state to be contrastedwith `normal' motherhood. Such discourses, which cast lesbian motherhood interms of sameness/difference, assimilation/resistance, emerge from either/ordebates that almost inevitably exude the sense of a need to defend the legitimacyof the status of lesbian motherhood. They tend also to lead researchers intorather sterile and intellectually shallow waters where the goal of the researcheffort becomes to prove the null hypothesis, that is, to demonstrate no differenceson comparisons between children growing up in lesbian-led fam- ilies and thosegrowing up in more traditional constellations. While such studies can servea useful function within legal contexts, Hequembourg argues that they failto engage with the full spectrum of individual experiences of growing up inlesbian-led families and are inherently problematic on methodological andcon- ceptual grounds. Hequembourg has begun to develop a promising approach,based on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987). This represents an attemptto escape from legalistic or dichotomizing discourses, by acknowledging discoursesof sameness and difference but conceptualizing them as occurring within amore dynamic system. The picture painted is of women constantly negotiatingaway from and towards hegemonic dis- courses according to varying social contextsand relationships. The most `conform- ing' women (i.e. those where coupleshave adopted traditional `male'/`female' gender roles) are not necessarilyconsciously negotiating new positions. However, Hequembourg portrays themas constantly creating social identities and statuses that evolve across differingsocial situations. This creates an overall impression of alternative discoursesas gyrations around hegemonic discourses, with the constant133processof becoming consisting of micro-movements around and about macro- discourses.Such a conceptualization contests a view of women as entrenched within staticconfrontational discourses and so points the way to a far more subtly nuancedunderstanding of the nature of lesbian motherhood. To support her new waysof thinking about lesbian motherhood, Hequembourg provides illustrations drawnfrom thoughtful analysis of the narrative accounts provided by lesbian mothers.These self-portrayals provide evidence of a variety and subtlety that seri-ously challenge the validity of more popular discourses that tend to producea more limited, stereotypical view. While it may have been useful if the differencebetween micro- and macro social contexts had been distinguished and definedmore clearly and there was a ten- dency at times to repeat rather than toelaborate, Hequembourg's attempt to develop an alternative conceptual frameworkis commendable. In my view, this book is an extremely valuable addition tothinking about lesbian motherhood.REFERENCEDeleuze, G.and F. Guattari(1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.Minnesota University of Minnesota Press.
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2008
Seitenangabe S. 132-133
Zeitschriftentitel European Journal of Women's Studies, 15 (2008) 2
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/13505068080150020402
Status Postprint; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)