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Unnatural Mothers, Mothering Unnaturally: Technologies of Reproduction and the Politics of Maternity in Hiromi Goto's "Hopeful Monsters"
Ruthven, Andrea
Universitat de Barcelona
Through scientific discourse and reproductive technologies, the reproductive body and the maternal body continue to be constructed as ‘natural’. At the same time, these technologies have begun to blur the boundaries between what is considered an acceptable reproductive body, and consequently an acceptable maternal body, and an unnatural or a socially undesireable one. As science purports to offer women greater control over how and when they choose to procreate, through methods which range between delaying or eliminating the possibility of contraception to those which extend the possibility of conception to postmenopausal or infertile women, these same procedures raise questions about the nature and ‘naturalness’ of reproduction. Added to these concerns are the suitablility of the reproductive body as a maternal body. Consequently, and more and more frequently, bodies which defy ideals about maternity and motherhood emerge, and questions about what it means to mother are raised. Bodies which contest the construction of motherhood as natural are frequently represented as monstrous or freakish, and the debate between science and nature is heightened. Hiromi Goto’s short story ‘Hopeful Monsters’ resists the construction of the ‘natural’ maternal body by highlighting the way in which women’s bodies are shaped by scientific discourse. In turn, images of ‘monstrous’ mothers emerge and are challenged, suggesting the need to reimagine what it means to mother and what it means to be a mother. Through reading a selection of the stories this paper will interrogate possible alternatives to constructions of the ‘natural’ maternal body and motherhood, suggesting that the Goto’s ‘monsters’ are perhaps only monstrous as a result of scientific discourse which constructs them as such.
Estudis de gènere
Gender studies
(c) Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010
Inter-Disciplinary Press

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