Live Blog: Unsex Mothering Colloquium


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 7:02:16pm









A quick photo of our panelists as we wrap up. Thanks for joining us and be sure to share your thoughts on the discussion in the colloquium section of the website!


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:57:28pm

Suzanne Kim: Is there a way to look at traits that have typically been linked at mother and father and de-gender them, so we have these traits that could be part of mother or father but are not linked to biosex?

Duncan Kennedy: There is a conflict of norms…about how fathers should behave and a conflict about how mothers should behave.


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:50:45pm

Thought from HLS Prof. Janet Halley: Discussion seems to be stuck on the 50s idea of fatherhood and motherhood. If you go back historically far enough, you can get to fathers who are caretakers and mothers who are "grasping harpies," so it seems as though [some commentators] are "reinscribing the very imaginative you're trying to get rid of."


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:47:09pm

Time for Q&A!


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:43:15pm

The unsex mothering I advocate benefits from legalized, regulated surrogacy, as discussed in Katherine Kraschel's response online.

Additional point: "thinking critically about redistributive changes requires us to look not just at who benefits to also who pays." Do women 'pay' as a result of unsex mothering? Possibly. But the fact that mothering is sexed to women is part of why families who hire nannies look for women caretakers rather than "mannies."

Rosenblum: I think that unsexing mothering has the potential to delink the caretaking that goes on, so that what is ultimately extremely lucrative work would be open to many poorly paid men who would make a lot more money if they were working as nannies. Nannies may not all be well-paid, but compared to certain other work, they are.


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:38:25pm

In reference to Suzanne Kim's comments: "One cannot easily unpeel the presumptive understandings of sexuality inherent in mothering from the biosex role that it takse part in."

What is really meant by mothering? A few of the online pieces get at this issue. For example, intimacy is a key element in mothering. (Ex. of the "getting dirty element of mothering": Baby Mama scene about the less glamous sides of parenting).


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:31:44pm

"It's clear that the 'losers' are men who believe in traditional sex roles." Why? In a state like Sweden, where there are more generous parenting benefits, and there is not the same sort of pressure or expectation for men to earn money at the level expected in many ways in the United States.


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:30:12pm

Key question, according to Prof. Rosenblum: What are the actual redistributive consequences for unsex parenting?

At least part of the answer "pulls apart pay inequities between men and women. It's not just divided between men and women but actually based on one's ascribing to traditional or non-traditional sex roles. Men who ascribe to traditional sex roles make the most money. … At the bottom of the pay scale are women who believe in traditional sex roles."


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:28:05pm

In the paper, "I don't know that I'm arguing for actual rights, but rather rethinking the distributional relationships among people that are constructed [because of sex] regarding parenting roles."

There's also an important distinction between unsex parenting and unsex children – that is, not assigning to children gendered roles or stereotypes from an early age. (This has received a great deal of press coverage because of the Swedish story about parents who are not revealing the gender of their child.)


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:23:20pm

There were lots of thoughtful remarks from our commentators, and now Prof. Rosenblum is going to respond. (Apologies for not covering the statements of the panelists — blogger takes full responsibility!)

Rosenblum said that he recently received his daughter's birth certificate. Although both Prof. Rosenblum and his partner are on the ceritificate, the form does not reflect that there are two fathers. His name appears in the spot for "Mother." He said that he shares that story to get at some of the tensions in the paper responses posted online.


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 6:17:13pm

If you haven't yet read Prof. Rosenblum's piece, which is being discussed today, click here to view a PDF of the article.  


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 5:59:35pm

We're joined today by the following guests: Professor Duncan Kennedy (HLS), Professor Mary Anne Case (U. Chicago), Professor Elizabeth Emens (Columbia), Professor Suzanne Kim (Rutgers), and Katherine Kraschel (HLS '12).


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 5:58:57pm

Welcome to the JLG live blog for our Unsex Mothering colloquium! We're hearing now from each of our colloquium participants, who are providing overviews of their pieces. Read more reflections here!


Mon, February 13, 2012 – 2:25:44pm

We're just setting up the live blog. Stay tuned!



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