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Pronatalism and social exclusion in Australian society: experiences of women in their reproductive years with no children
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-01, 00:00 authored by Elizabeth Turnbull, Melissa GrahamMelissa Graham, Ann TaketAnn Taket
Pronatalism in Australian society constructs women as mothers, and places women who do not conform to pronatalist norms of stereotypical femininity because they have no children, at risk of stigmatisation and social exclusion. This paper explores the nature of pronatalism-driven social connection and exclusion in Australian society of women aged 25–44 years with no children. A total of 636 female Australian residents aged 25–44 years with no children provided qualitative data during a mixed-methods study conducted in 2014. A self-administered online questionnaire employed the critical incident technique to collect qualitative data on participants’ experiences in different domains of life. The data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Findings suggest pronatalism in Australian society influences the experiences of women with no children, manifesting in a continuum of connection within, exclusion within, and exclusion from, all domains of life, with nuanced experiences dependent upon the nature of women’s ‘deviance’ from pronatalism. Emergent themes elucidating the experiences of women with no children include: woman = mother; idealised childed; stereotyped, judged and invalidated childless; private issue on public trial; childless incapabilities; subordinated childless; hegemony of the childed; and exclusion from normative life. These findings emphasise the importance of challenging pronatalist norms of femininity and building a society in which women’s motherhood status is irrelevant to judgements of their character, value, completeness and success.