‘A Sense of Myself as a Mother’: An Exploration of Maternal Fantasies in the Experience of ‘Circumstantial Childlessness’ (2017)
Type of ContentJournal Article
AuthorsTonkin Lshow all
‘Circumstantially childless’ women (Cannold 2000) are those who have seen themselves as having a biological child or children at some point in their lives, but have come to — or are approaching — the end of their reproductive years without giving birth, for primarily social rather than biological reasons. The women who experience this form of childlessness are part of a growing demographic in Western countries, but the experience is not well understood. Using a detailed case example of one participant in a qualitative feminist psychosocial study of the experience of 26 circumstantially childless women in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Tonkin 2014), I draw on Hollway’s (2015) work on the development of maternal subjectivity and Ettinger’s (2006b) concept of the ‘matrixial’ to try to make meaning of her apparently non-sensical ‘sense of myself as a mother’. I suggest the term ‘fantasy mother’ as a further dimension of motherhood, as a way to take account of aspects of this experience that appear to cut across available discourses of maternity.
CitationTonkin L (2017). ‘A Sense of Myself as a Mother’: An Exploration of Maternal Fantasies in the Experience of ‘Circumstantial Childlessness’. Studies in the Maternal. 9(1).
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