Querying the discourses of love: an analysis of contemporary patterns of love and the stratification of intimacy within lesbian families

Gabb, Jacqui (2001). Querying the discourses of love: an analysis of contemporary patterns of love and the stratification of intimacy within lesbian families. European Journal of Women's Studies, 8(3) pp. 313–328.

URL: http://ejw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/8/3/31...

Abstract

This article looks at the discourses of love through an analysis of the 'stratification of intimacy' within lesbian families. I suggest that traditional discourses of love effectively reify our emotions into socially prescribed categories, where 'mature love' is conflated with sex and desire. The love that mothers feel for their child(ren) is set apart, 'instinctive', wholly separate to adult (sexual) love. However this 'stratification of intimacy' obscures the lived experiences and feelings of many parents. In this article the author argues that whom we love is culturally constituted: it is unnecessarily quantified whereby monogamy is (mis)read as the sign of true (adult) love. I illustrate how lesbian mothers' location on the social margins enables them to construct new 'patterns of love' within their 'families of choice' in ways that challenge these traditional discourses of love. This theoretical analysis is based upon 'patterned variations' drawn from qualitative research with 20 lesbian families with children living within the Yorkshire region in the UK.

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