TO ENTRAP AND EMPOWER: UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF MATERNAL INTUITION WITHIN HETEROSEXUAL FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

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TO ENTRAP AND EMPOWER: UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF MATERNAL INTUITION WITHIN HETEROSEXUAL FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS Powered By Docstoc
					Gay & Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2009



TO ENTRAP AND EMPOWER: UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL
IMPLICATIONS OF MATERNAL INTUITION WITHIN HETERO-
SEXUAL FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

TONI DELANY

                     Abstract                                                      Introduction

Throughout this paper I explore the concept                      Intuition refers to a way of knowing; that is, a
of maternal intuition and argue that it serves                   way of understanding, interpreting and ex-
multiple, and sometimes contradictory, func-                     plaining events that occur in our lives. The
tions within heterosexual family relationships.                  concept of intuition has been applied within
In one sense a belief in the power of maternal                   various academic disciplines to explain forms
intuition serves to reinforce gendered child                     of knowledge that arise from an “inner wis-
care dynamics by naturalising the position of                    dom” (Staton Savage, 2006, pp. 10,13). Given
women as primary caregivers. Concurrently,                       the widespread application of the concept, the
this process may exclude and excuse men                          relevant literature is dispersed across various
from equal parenting responsibility. However,                    academic fields. Multiple definitions of intuition
maternal intuition can also operate to provide                   have been developed across these fields in
women a means of social empowerment. This                        conjunction with different understandings
occurs particularly through the role of intuition                about the origins and potential applications of
in providing evidence of a woman’s ability to                    intuitive knowledge (Hodgkinson, Langan-Fox
fulfil the role of ‘good’ mother. The ideas that                 & Sadler-Smith, 2008). I will provide a brief
are developed in this paper are drawn from a                     introduction to the concept of intuition by
discourse analysis of narratives collected dur-                  identifying some of the main ideas that per-
ing in-depth interviews. The interviews were                     meate the existing literature. I will then focus
with 28 women who mother children with con-                      specifically on exploring the concept of mater-
genital health problems. Throughout the                          nal intuition through an analysis of interview
analysis various theories are applied in order                   data.
to explore the origins and effects of maternal
intuition from both a biologically determinist                   The existing literature on intuition can be
and social perspective. The findings of the                      grouped loosely into five main categories.
analysis extend existing theory, particularly                    First, there is a considerable body of literature
about the operation of intuition within hetero-                  about the psychological origins of intuition.
sexual parenting relationships and about its                     Within this work intuition is generally regarded
role in reinforcing maternal responsibilities.                   as a form of thought which involves uncon-
                                                                 sciously accessing information previously
Keywords: Maternal intuition, parenting, ma-                     stored in the brain (Hodgkinson et al., 2008).
ternal responsibility, biological determinism.                   Due to the unconscious nature of this process,
                                                                 intuitive knowledge is commonly interpreted
—————————————————————————                                        as arising from a ‘feeling’, a ‘sense’ or a
1 The data presented in this paper focus solely on
                                                                 ‘hunch’ rather than from explainable thought
how maternal intuition operates within heterosexual
relationships. While some of the findings presented              processes (Hodgkinson et al
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Throughout this paper I explore the concept of maternal intuition and argue that it serves multiple, and sometimes contradictory, functions within heterosexual family relationships. In one sense a belief in the power of maternal intuition serves to reinforce gendered child care dynamics by naturalising the position of women as primary caregivers. Concurrently, this process may exclude and excuse men from equal parenting responsibility. However, maternal intuition can also operate to provide women a means of social empowerment. This occurs particularly through the role of intuition in providing evidence of a woman's ability to fulfil the role of 'good' mother. The ideas that are developed in this paper are drawn from a discourse analysis of narratives collected during in-depth interviews. The interviews were with 28 women who mother children with congenital health problems. Throughout the analysis various theories are applied in order to explore the origins and effects of maternal intuition from both a biologically determinist and social perspective. The findings of the analysis extend existing theory, particularly about the operation of intuition within heterosexual parenting relationships and about its role in reinforcing maternal responsibilities. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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