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ques_motherhood - de-essentializing sex/gender/kinship...

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de-essentializing sex/gender/kinship; querying motherhood moving to final topic: from thinking about sexuality — as desire, behavior, identity, and various constellations of the 3 — to reproductive politics — not unrelated stories helpful transition is to recall the history we traced (Katz) of contrasting sexual ethics: procreative ethic of sex — sex is productive of babies, producing babies is good, therefore — in this way — sex is good pleasure ethic of sex sex is pleasurable, can be thought of and valued apart from procreation the pendulum swings of sexual ethics (agrarianism to capitalism; post WWII baby boom to Playboy™ & 60s sexual liberation) has been matter of emphasis , not absolute difference — not mutually exclusive; both available for rhetorical appeal — certainly today: pleasure ethic today bolstered by increasing visibility of homosexual lifestyles — straight people don’t want to miss out on pleasure part — but increasing “abstinence-only” sex ed new voice for procreative ethic (more in couple weeks) sex can be procreative; sex can be pleasurable — it’s often neither what we’re talking about are reigning ideologies of what sex “is” and should be , how people expect to experience it, and why we should value it — its significance as a component of “human nature” missing from this distinction (Katz) is how these competing ethics have been differentiated by – and used to differentiate -- not only along an axis of sexuality (while many heterosexuals were committed to procreative ethic, homosexuals carved out alternative identity based on a different attitude toward sex, pleasure ethic) but also of gender — among heterosexuals (once we get that category), procreative ethic has been applied more consistently to women than to men — women’s “natural” sexual desire said to be aimed at procreation more consistently than men’s these sexual ideologies have flip-flopped frequently enough in recent history — even your lifetimes — not difficult to realize that sexuality — how people experience themselves and others as sexual beings — is historically and culturally produced, shaped however , it may be more difficult to view motherhood in the same way — as ideologically produced, “socially constructed” — but it’s true sexuality, motherhood, marriage, The Family (capital letters) — these are all pieces of the same puzzle — elements that some have depicted as the “foundation of society” or, alternatively, as the “foundation of civilization” — a particular, exhaulted, type of society 1
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But as Collier, Rosaldo and Yanagisako point out, “most of our talk about families is clouded by unexplored notions of what families ‘really’ are like.” “Confusing ideal with reality , we fail to appreciate the deep significance of what are, cross-culturally, various ideologies of intimate relationship, and at the same time we fail to reckon with the complex human bonds and experiences all too
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