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Disabled women and socio-spatial 'barriers' to motherhood

McFarlane, Hazel (2004) Disabled women and socio-spatial 'barriers' to motherhood. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Disabled women’s social history of institutionalisation and spatial segregation has, over time and space, set them apart from mainstream society and rendered them invisible in the spaces and places of everyday life. In more contemporary times, when disabled women ‘invade’ reproductive spaces, their presence as prospective parents, ‘becoming mothers’ or mothers, is often regarded as ‘out of place’. This study hence incorporates a historical review that traces the spatial realities of disabled women’s and girl’s lives between 1796-1910 in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This reveals the development of social stereotypes and misunderstandings of disabled women’s lives and bodies, particularly their assumed asexuality and inappropriateness for undertaking reproductive or mothering roles. Disabled women’s ‘voices’ are to the fore in the contemporary chapters of the thesis, reflecting the reproductive and non-reproductive experiences of 27 disabled women resident in the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas. These narratives offer an insight into the embodied experiences of ‘disability’ in private and public space. Being placed sexually ‘off limits’, and rendered ‘out of place’ in and by reproductive or mothering environments, constitute some of the social and spatial barriers to motherhood encountered by disabled women. It is hoped that this study contributes to the process of recovering the forgotten histories and neglected experiences of disabled women, particularly in terms of their social exclusion, infantilisation and desexualisation that have reduced disabled women’s participation in child-rearing and motherhood across time and space. The chronological framework of this study reveals slow but positive changes in social attitudes towards disabled women expressing reproductive choices, raising children and creating a ‘place’ for themselves as mothers in contemporary society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Prof. Chris and Lowder, Dr. Stella
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-1289
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:37
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1289

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