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Title: Making a Mockery of Family Life? Lesbian Mothers in the British Media
Authors: Alldred, P
Keywords: stigma;same-sex couples;homophobia;gay families
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: The Haworth Press, Inc
Citation: Alldred, P. (1998b) Making a Mockery of Family Life? Lesbian Mothers in the British Media, special issue Journal of Lesbian Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 4 (Fall)
Abstract: In Britain, the legal treatment of lesbian mothers and co-parents has improved considerably over the past 15 years (Harne et al, 1997). Despite this, they are still vilified in occasional outbursts in the popular press. This article identifies arguments against lesbian parenting employed in a recent front-page ‘fury’ article in a British daily tabloid newspaper, The Sun. Encouragingly, of the five arguments about the ‘dangers’ of lesbian parenting that can be identified in earlier legal battles (such as the ‘risk’ that children grow up gay, or become ‘gender confused’), the only one which this article manages to present very convincingly is that of social stigma. Concern that the children of lesbians may experience name-calling or exclusion is, of course, a problem of discrimination and not a problem that is intrinsic to lesbian parenting (in contrast, say, to an argument about ‘the psychology of lesbianism’). The rhetorical force of the piece comes from easily deconstructed journalistic techniques rather than coherent arguments. The sharpest condemnation of these women is actually for having a child whilst on welfare benefits. It is, therefore, economic concerns about ‘state dependency’, rather than sexuality per se, which fuel the attack. The imagined financial self-sufficiency of heterosexual families which underpins this argument is outdated in its presumption of a bread-winning, male head of household. The fact that two days before the UK’s 1997 General Election, the birth of a baby to a lesbian couple was granted front-page coverage is a sobering reminder of the hostility that lesbians still face through the scrutiny of their ‘fitness to parent’ and the intrusive condemnation of non heterosexual domestic arrangements and relationships.
ISSN: 1089-4160
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Research Papers

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