Some chose donors from among their own circles and friends of friends; others used sperm banks.
Queering reproduction : achieving pregnancy in the age of technoscience
In the transition from doing it ourselves to high-tech methods, Mamo argues, we got caught up in a matrix that includes genetic determinism, medicine, capitalism, insurance coverage, and heteronormativity. Why the change from low-tech to technosperm? But the thirty-six lesbians whom Mamo interviewed mostly gave a single answer to the question of why high-tech: unequivocal legal rights to their children. Granted, it would have changed the book — from one about biomedicine to one about family law — but her informants persuaded me that this is the real story about how reprotech constitutes lesbians as activists, not soccer moms, or maybe both.
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In November , along with the historic election in the United States of its first black President Barack Obama, Proposition 8 was passed in the state of California. This amendment to the California Constitution, which added a clause that marriage could only exist between a man and a woman, served as a reminder that the battles for queer citizenship rights can not be taken for granted. That the setting for her ethnography is the Bay Area of San Francisco, the queer cosmopolitan Mecca of California, adds a theoretical complexity, and a political urgency, to the insights of Mamo's book.
Queering Reproduction is a welcome addition to a growing body of recent scholarship around the complex practices and experiences of queer families and the discourses of relatedness and familiarism that these families are able to use, and are also constrained by. What Mamo's book shares with this emerging scholarship is a willingness to stretch the terms of sexual identity under which these claims are made, and to engage creatively with the intersections of class, race and gender, which, along with sexuality, form the connective tissue through which everyday experiences of queer families are felt and lived.
The new generation of queer scholarship around the family seeks to destabilise the homogenous, universal lesbian mother who was celebrated in much gay-liberation literature in the s and s, and to think through the many other axis of difference besides sexuality that inform the options and actions of queer subjects seeking parenthood.
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Roisin-Ryan-Flood's excellent transnational research, Lesbian Motherhood: gender, families and sexual citizenship explores the ways in which Swedish and Irish lesbians drew on particular cultural discourses around family and gender in order to produce an account of who could be considered a parent in their families; while Yvette Taylor's Lesbian and Gay Parenting: securing social and educational capital reminds us that queer parents are classed as well as sexual subjects.
In the book, Mamo examines the sociocultural histories of medical reproductive technologies, from the alternative empowerment practice of self-insemination within lesbian-feminist cultures, to the growing provision of assisted reproduction services by commercial organisations and clinics.