Gender and body-based distinctions continue to be a defining component of women’s identities, both in psychoanalytic treatment and in life. Although females have made progress in many areas, their status within the human community has remained unstable and subject to societal whim. A Womb of Her Own brings together a distinguished group of contributors to explore, from a psychoanalytic perspective, the ways in which women’s sexual and reproductive capabilities, and their bodies, are regarded as societal and patriarchal property, not as the possession of individual women. It further examines how women have been viewed as the “other” and thus become the focus of mistreatment such as rape, sexual slavery, restriction of reproduction rights, and ongoing societal repression.
Postmodern gender theories have greatly enhanced understanding of the fluidity of gender and freed women from repressive stereotypes, but attention has shifted prematurely from the power differential that continues to exist between men and women. Before the male/female binary is transcended, the limitations imposed upon women by the still prevailing patriarchal order must be addressed. To this end, A Womb of Her Own addresses issues such as the prevalence of rape culture and its historical roots; the relationship of the LGBT movement to feminism; current sexual practices such as sexting and tattooing and their meaning to women; reproductive issues including infertility; adoption; postpartum depression and the actual experience of birthing—all from the perspectives of women. The book also explores the cultural definitions of motherhood, and how such definitions set exacting standards both for the acceptable face of motherhood and for women generally.
While women’s unique anatomy and biology have historically contributed to their oppression in a patriarchal society, it is the exploration and illumination of these capabilities from their own perspective that