Topics: LifeMother

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Last updated: September 20, 2019

GayleRubin, in her essay, The Traffic in Women,builds upon a theory that situates the structural oppression of women in workingkinship systems that reproduce heterosexuality and create gender divisions: “Farfrom being an expression of natural differences, exclusive gender identity isthe suppression of natural similarities” (Rubin, 180). She relies on economicinterpretations from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, an anthropologicalperspective from Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the theories of psychoanalysis from SigmundFreud and Jacques Lacan to define the “sex/gender system,” and how it has beenhistorically evident in society.AnnaTsing’s essay, Monster Stories: Women Charged with Perinatal Endangerment,discusses the varying degrees of criminal negligence stemming from ambiguouschildbirth incidents that resulted in infanticide due to unassisted childbirth, specifically outside of a medical environment. Tsing focuses on the “monsterstories” of two young women who gave birth alone and were then charged with perinatalendangerment.

Throughout these stories, Tsing discusses the perceptions andcharacterizations of what makes a “good,” “bad,” or “unnatural” mother throughthe lens of a court and how those mothers are convicted depending on her raceand class. 

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