Hadfield, L.; Rudoe, N. and Sanderson-mann, J.
Motherhood, choice and the British media: a time to reflect.
Gender and Education, 19(2) pp. 255–263.
In this paper we ask: How is motherhood being represented in the British media, especially in relation to choice, age and fertility? Do media discourses reflect a redefinition or transformation of 'motherhood' in the twenty-first century, and what implications do they have for feminist research into maternal identity and motherhood? As three Ph.D. students from The Open University, all working on different aspects of motherhood, we examine and discuss the significant debates around motherhood, fertility and choice taking place recently in the British media. In the context of increasing divergence from traditional family forms, advances in medical technology such as assisted reproductive techniques, and changing attitudes to sexual behaviour and marriage over the past few decades, motherhood and parenting remain contested sites in the public domain. The availability of contraception and of abortion has given rise to increased choice, and yet women's fertility choices are increasingly subject to scrutiny and criticism. In particular, media debate in the UK has focused on challenges to traditional motherhood and the implication that the family is 'in crisis'. This is particularly evident in the coverage of teenage mothers, older mothers and women who delay motherhood. Such media representations of older and younger mothers and those women who 'leave it too late' reveal significant insights into the social construction of motherhood.
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