liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Silent Bodies: Childfree Women's Gendered and Embodied Experiences
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: The European Journal of Women's Studies, ISSN 1350-5068, E-ISSN 1461-7420, Vol. 20, no 4, 376-389 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports from the first studies on voluntary childlessness in Sweden and addresses a so far neglected issue - the embodied experiences of childfree women. These childfree women reject and resist pronatalist understandings that conflate being a woman with being a mother. However, instead of explaining their childlessness by external factors, mentioned in previous research, the interviewed women created a positive feminine identity separated from motherhood with reference to their silent bodies', i.e. bodies without a biological urge to reproduce. Reducing voluntary childlessness to a mere result of biological determinism, the article argues, establishes a legitimate, natural position, less provocative and stigmatized in a pronatalist society. Nevertheless, paradoxically, drawing on biological determinism both challenges and reinstates pronatalism as it builds on the simultaneous acceptance of, and detachment from, the biological reproductive urge. The study hence highlights how persistent the social and cultural link between motherhood and womanhood is, but also how this relationship can be challenged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013. Vol. 20, no 4, 376-389 p.
Keyword [en]
Biological determinism, childfree women, embodied knowledge, feminine identity, silent body, voluntary childlessness
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-99911DOI: 10.1177/1350506812471338ISI: 000325969900005OAI: diva2:658878
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2007-0939
Available from: 2013-10-23 Created: 2013-10-23 Last updated: 2013-12-03Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Peterson, Helen
By organisation
The Department of Gender StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
In the same journal
The European Journal of Women's Studies
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 83 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link