Women without children
A heuristic exploration of childless female identity and pronatalism
Keywords:pronatalism, childlessness, transpersonal feminism, heuristic inquiry, empathy, empathic explication
Heuristic methodology (Moustakas, 1990) was employed to explore the experiences and identities of women without children in relation to predominant discourses around womanhood and motherhood. Seven co-researchers participated in the study, a mix of intentionally and involuntarily childless women aged between 50 and 75. Individual depictions were created through a narrational technique of empathic explication, based on data produced from conversational interviews and historical material. A composite depiction was then created, illustrating an archetypal experiential journey unfolding from the position of being female and conveying key aspects of experience and processes of identity formation. Research findings reveal that embodied experiences of womanhood from the position of a woman without children demonstrate complex, diverse, and transpersonal experiences that challenge and surpass the boundaries of predominant conceptions of womanhood. The study’s findings support the development of a feminist participatory perspective in working to destabilise and reconceptualise essentialist conceptions pertaining to womanhood, and effectively challenge the widespread conflation of ‘woman’ with ‘mother’ in predominant discourses.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Fiona Hovsepian
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