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New fathers and mothers as gender troublemakers? Exploring discursive constructions of heterosexual parenthood and their subversive potential

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abstract Current constructions of heterosexual parenthood in western societies seem to be trapped in a change-retention dilemma. Many elements have changed, but many others have stayed the same. Although ‘new fathers’ do change diapers, the mother is very often seen as the ‘main parent’. Parenthood is still constructed along the heterosexual gender binary that equates women with mothers and men with fathers. In this article I analyze four different scenarios of parenthood that were discursively constructed in 21 qualitative interviews in Switzerland. I focus on the discursive construction of the subject positions ‘mother’ and ‘father’, the discourses drawn upon, and their potential to subvert the gendered construction of heterosexual parenthood when justifying certain versions of parenthood. Drawing on Judith Butler’s concept of ‘gender trouble’, I explore the possibilities for change and the dangers of reifying the gender binary, and critically discuss the possibilities and limitations of gender trouble in this context
   
type journal paper
   
keywords gender trouble, performativity, subversion, discourse, new mothers, new fathers, gendered parenthood, binaries
   
project Gendered Parenthood: Warum Frauen nicht Vater werden k├Ânnen
language English
kind of paper journal article
date of appearance 1-5-2008
journal Feminism and Psychology
publisher Sage
ISSN 0959-3535
ISSN (online) 1461-7161
volume of journal 18
number of issue 2
page(s) 207-230
review double-blind review
   
citation Nentwich, J. C. (2008). New fathers and mothers as gender troublemakers? Exploring discursive constructions of heterosexual parenthood and their subversive potential. Feminism and Psychology, 18(2), 207-230.