Monstrous Motherhood – Women on the Edge of Reproductive Age

Stine Willum Adrian*, Charlotte Kroløkke, Janne Rothmar Herrmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Women using reproductive technologies to extend the period they can procreate challenge nature and culture, and traverse the boundary between what is considered normal and abnormal. In other words, women inhabit the potentialities of reproductive change found in Margrit Schildrich's figure of the monstrous. Haraway and Dumit's implosion method is a useful vehicle for following women who are on the edge of reproductive age through legislation, the media, and the fertility clinic, revealing how maternal age is disciplined and (re)configured. While older women who conceived naturally are viewed as acceptable mothers, those who used technological assistance are perceived with uneasiness. The dichotomy of the natural and the unnatural is especially prevalent as an ordering principle in legislation, but it is (re)configured in media reports and clinical settings where a youthful appearance mental attitude and behaviour, can mitigate age. While the discussion about an age limit for parenthood is important, the nature-based ideas that are central to regulating women's bodies but not men's should be challenged. The way that moral boundaries emerge calls for legislation, media perceptions, and clinical practices to be adjusted to include new modes of ordering that are less repressive of women, their bodies, and their reproductive lives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience as Culture
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)491-512
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Process Press.


  • age
  • Monstrosity
  • motherhood
  • nature
  • reproduction
  • reproductive technologies


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