As the mean age of first- time motherhood continues to rise throughout most of the western world, and, increasingly, in emerging economies (OECD), normative notions of “ideal” first- time pregnancy age have shifted, and purely biological conceptualizations of fertility have been matched (and often challenged) by the emergence of the notion of “social fertility”, which is often at a disconnect with biological fertility. The increasingly widespread availability of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) has further extended the upper limits of childbearing age to the point that it has been possible for post- menopausal women to give birth. This has brought about a shift in the boundaries of “normal” – or even “natural” – motherhood, challenging the applicability of commonly accepted definitions of age- related “norms” to women’s life stages. While this process has been strongly contested, with charges of unnaturalness being levelled at older mothers, and especially at those who resort to ARTs, acceptance of older motherhood has become gradually more widespread. The linguistic strategies increasingly deployed in its representation have both reflected and contributed to this change. This chapter addresses discursive aspects of the construction of “older mothers” identities in contemporary discourses of age- related reproductive health and opportunities, focusing on medical discourse on the one hand, and selfrepresentations of older motherhood on the other. While stigmatization of women who choose to postpone motherhood persists across multiple discursive domains, a shift is detectable in a growing body of texts which explicitly aims to neutralize social stigma by opting for categorizations which rely on more linguistically neutral terms. The chapter raises questions about the ideological implications of labelling strategies and on the impact of such labelling on discursive identity constructions, and offers insights into “older” first- time mothers’ strategies of self- representation.

Discursive (de/re)constructions of identity and the age/gender interface: from geriatric pregnancies to midlife motherhood / P. Catenaccio - In: Age-Specific Issues : Language, Spaces, Technologies / [a cura di] Y. Virpi, K. Grego, A. Vicentini. - Bern : Peter Lang, 2022. - pp. 115-139

Discursive (de/re)constructions of identity and the age/gender interface: from geriatric pregnancies to midlife motherhood

P. Catenaccio
2022

Abstract

As the mean age of first- time motherhood continues to rise throughout most of the western world, and, increasingly, in emerging economies (OECD), normative notions of “ideal” first- time pregnancy age have shifted, and purely biological conceptualizations of fertility have been matched (and often challenged) by the emergence of the notion of “social fertility”, which is often at a disconnect with biological fertility. The increasingly widespread availability of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) has further extended the upper limits of childbearing age to the point that it has been possible for post- menopausal women to give birth. This has brought about a shift in the boundaries of “normal” – or even “natural” – motherhood, challenging the applicability of commonly accepted definitions of age- related “norms” to women’s life stages. While this process has been strongly contested, with charges of unnaturalness being levelled at older mothers, and especially at those who resort to ARTs, acceptance of older motherhood has become gradually more widespread. The linguistic strategies increasingly deployed in its representation have both reflected and contributed to this change. This chapter addresses discursive aspects of the construction of “older mothers” identities in contemporary discourses of age- related reproductive health and opportunities, focusing on medical discourse on the one hand, and selfrepresentations of older motherhood on the other. While stigmatization of women who choose to postpone motherhood persists across multiple discursive domains, a shift is detectable in a growing body of texts which explicitly aims to neutralize social stigma by opting for categorizations which rely on more linguistically neutral terms. The chapter raises questions about the ideological implications of labelling strategies and on the impact of such labelling on discursive identity constructions, and offers insights into “older” first- time mothers’ strategies of self- representation.
Older motherhood; reproductive age; discourse analysis; discursive identity; language and social representation
Settore L-LIN/12 - Lingua e Traduzione - Lingua Inglese
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/951811
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