From outsiders to motherhood to reinventing the family: constructions of lesbians as parents in the psychological literature – 1886-2006
Clarke, V. print (2008) From outsiders to motherhood to reinventing the family: constructions of lesbians as parents in the psychological literature – 1886-2006. Women's Studies International Forum, 31 (2). pp. 118-128. ISSN 0277-5395
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2008.03.004
This article provides a feminist critical psychological analysis of the psychological literature on lesbian parenting. Rather than offer an overview of the findings and methods and an evaluation of the scientific merit of the literature, the aim of this article is to examine the construction of lesbians as parents and the evolving history of the category ‘lesbian mother’ in psychological research. The period under analysis begins with the construction of lesbians as outsiders to motherhood in the work of early sexologists and ends with the construction of lesbians as reinventing the family in the work of lesbian and gay psychologists. Five phases of research are identified and the analysis explores what research in each phase reveals about the social and political meanings of lesbians raising children. The article concludes by charting the emergence of feminist critiques of the psychological literature. These critiques raise important questions about the regulatory role of psychology and the (re)production of heteronormativity in research on lesbian parenting.
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