This is our last blog highlighting abstracts of papers to be given at this year’s OHA Annual Meeting in Tampa by the International Committee Scholarship recipients.
Panel: Life Stages and Identity
Presenting Author on individual submission: Single and Lesbian Mothers: Narratives of Resistance and Change
While it is widely accepted that political activism by lesbian and gay groups, and the women’s movement in the early 1970s was central to changing social attitudes in Australia, the contributions of single and lesbian mothers is less evident and more problematic. Dominant discourses of motherhood were at odds with feminist ideals; ‘the mother’ with child was to be revered only within the framework of a specifically defined nuclear family structure: any variation from this model family has been subject to negative social pressure(s). Presenting an exaggerated threat to heteronormative patriarchal structures of family, single and/or lesbian mothers have challenged ‘traditional’ notions of family with a fluidity and diversity of family structures. More importantly, these ‘alternative’ families have prompted a host of research that has consistently shown that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting and relationships within the family) that contribute to determining children’s well-being and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures. This paper will examine interviews with single and/or lesbian mothers who raised their children over the last forty years to locate narratives of resistance and change.
Hope to see you all at the OHA Annual Meeting in October.