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From private to public bodies: Normalising pregnant bodies in Western culture

By Angela E. Dwyer


I recently had the painful pleasure of bringing into the world a baby boy. As I already had a five year old boy, I didn’t expect that the experience would be very different from the last and, to a large extent, I was correct. There was the usual battery of assessments, scans, tests, and other surveillance techniques that I had expected in producing my unborn child as a ‘case’ of proper antenatal care (Rose, 1990). However, there was one element of being pregnant that, although I no doubt encountered with my first pregnancy, left me continually analysing the bodily practices associated with pregnant embodiment in my second pregnancy: my body be(com)ing a public space. I want to briefly consider my experiences with inhabiting the new, more public bodily space of pregnancy and the different ways in which my usually private body came to constitute a public space. I conclude by examining the possibilities and tensions that may then arise for young pregnant girls in this regard

Topics: 200205 Culture Gender Sexuality, 200200 CULTURAL STUDIES, 169901 Gender Specific Studies, 160800 SOCIOLOGY, pregnancy, pregnant, bodies, female body, normalisation, normalising, private, public, surveillance, embodiment, public space, young girl, visual
Publisher: The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)
Year: 2006
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