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Goldsmiths - University of London

Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Motherhood: Crafting Radical Narratives and Representing Social Change through Cultural Representations

Reed, Elizabeth. 2018. Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Motherhood: Crafting Radical Narratives and Representing Social Change through Cultural Representations. Women: A Cultural Review, 29(1), pp. 39-58. ISSN 0957-4042 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines how lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) women negotiate mother identity narratives through critical engagement with diverse media representations. I draw on the reported experiences of LGBQ mothers living in Great Britain, collected in semi-structured, in-depth qualitative interviews during 2013 and 2014. Interview data is used to examine how queer and social-radical positions are articulated through, and to explore LGBQ women’s relationship to, the identity of mother and its attendant traditional gender role. The LGBQ women I spoke with identified a range of representations drawn from sources including graphic novels, children's books, and television, as significant in their negotiation of mother identities. I argue LGBQ women's selection and usage of representations illustrates their deliberate, conscious and ideologically driven negotiations of cultural images and indicates the way in which media is central in articulating mother identities.

I conclude by suggesting that traditional images of motherhood, and the existing vocabulary of mothering, are radically redeployed by women whose identities fall outside of the heteronorm. Further, I demonstrate that the use of existing representations of motherhood to describe different non-heterosexual mother identities is a key way in which LGBQ women model social change and seek to circulate alternative, validated narratives of motherhood.

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The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Women: A Cultural Review, 2018.


LGBQ mothers, media images, negotiated reading, social change, radical, non-heterosexual, mothering, representation

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8 January 2018Accepted
29 March 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Jan 2018 09:56

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2018 01:00

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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