Straighten up and breed White: The representation of race and sexuality in films about reproductive technologies

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/289943
Title:
Straighten up and breed White: The representation of race and sexuality in films about reproductive technologies
Author:
Kelber-Kaye, Jodi
Issue Date:
2003
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This dissertation is concerned with the monstrous, specifically as it enters our understanding of reproductive technologies, and is represented through a series of films, beginning in the 1930s. In looking at filmic representations of reproductive technologies, this study indicates how the use of, and the results from, those technologies are characterized as monstrous. Because technological reproduction is demarcated as monstrous, non-technological reproduction is naturalized. Importantly, this naturalized reproduction in the films is not only non-technological, but specifically derived from heterosex and racially consistent. In this examination, I argue that the kinds of cultural stories we tell about family-making resemble those we tell about gays and lesbians and non-whites: that in the twentieth- and twenty-first-century US, our culture operates under a double discourse in which those we pity become those whose lives we restrict. In the realm of reproduction, these seemingly contradictory positions enable attempts to limit or eradicate the reproduction of certain people, the egregiousness of which is ameliorated by expressions of sympathy for the life circumstances of those same people. The insights of this project are built on the naturalization of white, heterosexual reproduction in popular film, as well as the historical construction of desired reproduction through eugenics. Some feminist scholarship about reproductive technologies has directly linked those technologies to eugenic attempts to control reproduction, but do so by naturalizing motherhood and reproduction. The "unnaturalness" of reproductive technologies, in the form of masculine medical institutions, these writers claim, looks exactly like the masculine control of human reproduction during the eugenics movements. I seek to extend and complicate this scholarship by pointing out how such a reductive version not only negates the social welfare movements aspects of eugenics but also makes heterosexual reproduction via sexual activity the norm, thereby de-valuing gay and lesbian family-making. On the other side of the reproductive technologies issue, other feminist scholars herald these technologies as capable of eradicating inequitable social relations. Conversely, I argue, these technologies continue to exacerbate the system of differences through their re-inscription of the varying degrees of "quality" assigned to the reproduction of women of color.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
American Studies.; Women's Studies.; Cinema.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Briggs, Laura

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleStraighten up and breed White: The representation of race and sexuality in films about reproductive technologiesen_US
dc.creatorKelber-Kaye, Jodien_US
dc.contributor.authorKelber-Kaye, Jodien_US
dc.date.issued2003en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation is concerned with the monstrous, specifically as it enters our understanding of reproductive technologies, and is represented through a series of films, beginning in the 1930s. In looking at filmic representations of reproductive technologies, this study indicates how the use of, and the results from, those technologies are characterized as monstrous. Because technological reproduction is demarcated as monstrous, non-technological reproduction is naturalized. Importantly, this naturalized reproduction in the films is not only non-technological, but specifically derived from heterosex and racially consistent. In this examination, I argue that the kinds of cultural stories we tell about family-making resemble those we tell about gays and lesbians and non-whites: that in the twentieth- and twenty-first-century US, our culture operates under a double discourse in which those we pity become those whose lives we restrict. In the realm of reproduction, these seemingly contradictory positions enable attempts to limit or eradicate the reproduction of certain people, the egregiousness of which is ameliorated by expressions of sympathy for the life circumstances of those same people. The insights of this project are built on the naturalization of white, heterosexual reproduction in popular film, as well as the historical construction of desired reproduction through eugenics. Some feminist scholarship about reproductive technologies has directly linked those technologies to eugenic attempts to control reproduction, but do so by naturalizing motherhood and reproduction. The "unnaturalness" of reproductive technologies, in the form of masculine medical institutions, these writers claim, looks exactly like the masculine control of human reproduction during the eugenics movements. I seek to extend and complicate this scholarship by pointing out how such a reductive version not only negates the social welfare movements aspects of eugenics but also makes heterosexual reproduction via sexual activity the norm, thereby de-valuing gay and lesbian family-making. On the other side of the reproductive technologies issue, other feminist scholars herald these technologies as capable of eradicating inequitable social relations. Conversely, I argue, these technologies continue to exacerbate the system of differences through their re-inscription of the varying degrees of "quality" assigned to the reproduction of women of color.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectAmerican Studies.en_US
dc.subjectWomen's Studies.en_US
dc.subjectCinema.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineComparative Cultural and Literary Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorBriggs, Lauraen_US
dc.identifier.proquest3107007en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b44663122en_US
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