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Is maternal instinct/desire a biological or learned female quality? Scholars continue to debate the importance of experience on a woman’s desire to be a mother and on a woman’s capacity for motherly instincts. Nancy Mezey, author of New Choices, New Families: How Lesbians Decide about Motherhood, attempts to define the correlation between experience and maternal instinct/motherly desire—specifically in American Lesbians.
After interviewing a group of lesbian American’s, Mezey determined, “The process by which [women] developed [maternal] desire was largely based on the social and cultural conditions in which they grew up in (pg. 46).” Mezey’s findings not only iterate the importance of female development and experiences on one’s motherly desire but also the pivotal role played by a woman’s mother. For most of Mezey’s interviewees, positive and/or negative interactions with one’s mother directly impacted the motherly desires and perception of personal ability of each women to become a mother.
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In addition to experiences and interactions with one’s own mother, media and societal norms/opinions greatly affect the motherly desires of lesbian Americans. In America, movies, books, and media push for heterosexual women to be married, have children, and to maximize “motherly duty.” Lesbian American’s, like those interviewed by Mezey, commented on opposite societal pressures, in which lesbian women and couples are encouraged to NOT participate in motherhood (Mezey). The pressure by society for lesbians to abstain from child raising directly impacts the motherly desires and perceptions of motherhood by lesbian Americans.
Many authors and scholars, like Mezey, attempt to abolish the American societal norm which views sexuality as a determining factor in the mothering ability and instinct of American lesbians. Click here to preview and read a sample of Mezey's book online.
Read how a lesbian blogger has encountered this very issue at her It's Great Being A Lesbian blog.
Whether motherly instinct and desires are developed or learned, pressures and life experiences had by homosexual American women significantly affect the motherly desires of women across the country.