studies in ambivalence

by rantywoman

I take a critical, poststructural, feminist stance within a constructivist analytical framework to suggest that the medicalization, commodification, and bureaucratization of the most available alternative paths to motherhood create the role of the “infertile woman”—i.e., the white, middle class, heternormative, married, “desperate and damaged” cum savvy consumer. By contrast, the women who participated in this study are better described as the “ambivalent childless” (i.e., neither voluntary nor involuntary) and the “pragmatic infertile.” These women experience infertility and childlessness—two interrelated, potentially stigmatizing “roles”—in ways that belie this stereotype, reject the associated stigma in favor of an abiding, dynamic ambivalence, and re-assert themselves as fulfilled women in spite of their presumed deviance.