Chapter

The Embattled Body

Gay Becker

in The Elusive Embryo

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780520224308
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925243 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520224308.003.0004
The Embattled Body

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This chapter examines women's and men's bodily experiences of infertility in the context of cultural dialogues about reproduction and gender. It describes gendered ideals of the body that profoundly affect women's and men's responses to bodily disorder. Bodily order and cultural order are equated with fertility. People living with infertility who subscribe to heterosexual views of gender experience are sensitive to dominant ideologies of gender. They feel different from others because of their infertility. Thus, while gender is destabilized, issues of normalcy persist. Those affected react both by attempting to fit into rigid cultural molds and by resisting those molds. Attempts to achieve a state of “gender normalcy” are characterized by inconsistency. The stories that follow illustrate the interaction of gender, sexuality, and feelings about the ability to reproduce in shaping people's ideas about themselves.

Keywords: infertility; bodily order; cultural order; heterosexual views; gender normalcy

Chapter.  8896 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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