A Womb of Her Own: Women's Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy

Front Cover
Ellen L.K. Toronto, Joann Ponder, Kristin Davisson, Maurine Kelber Kelly
Taylor & Francis, Feb 3, 2017 - FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS - 264 pages

Gender and body-based distinctions continue to be a defining component of women’s identities, both in psychoanalytic treatment and in life. Although females have made progress in many areas, their status within the human community has remained unstable and subject to societal whim. A Womb of Her Own brings together a distinguished group of contributors to explore, from a psychoanalytic perspective, the ways in which women’s sexual and reproductive capabilities, and their bodies, are regarded as societal and patriarchal property, not as the possession of individual women. It further examines how women have been viewed as the "other" and thus become the focus of mistreatment such as rape, sexual slavery, restriction of reproduction rights, and ongoing societal repression.

Postmodern gender theories have greatly enhanced understanding of the fluidity of gender and freed women from repressive stereotypes, but attention has shifted prematurely from the power differential that continues to exist between men and women. Before the male/female binary is transcended, the limitations imposed upon women by the still prevailing patriarchal order must be addressed. To this end, A Womb of Her Own addresses issues such as the prevalence of rape culture and its historical roots; the relationship of the LGBT movement to feminism; current sexual practices such as sexting and tattooing and their meaning to women; reproductive issues including infertility; adoption; postpartum depression and the actual experience of birthing—all from the perspectives of women. The book also explores the cultural definitions of motherhood, and how such definitions set exacting standards both for the acceptable face of motherhood and for women generally.

While women’s unique anatomy and biology have historically contributed to their oppression in a patriarchal society, it is the exploration and illumination of these capabilities from their own perspective that will allow women to claim and control them as their own. Covering a broad, topical range of contemporary subjects, A Womb of Her Own will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as scholars and students of gender and women’s studies.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Section I A culture of oppression
Section II Women and sexual trauma
Section III Women defining motherhood
Section IV Mother as therapist therapist as mother

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2017)

Ellen L.K. Toronto is in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is co-editor of Psychoanalytic Reflections on a Gender-free Case: Into the Void (Routledge, 2005), the author of Family Entanglement (CreateSpace 2013) and writes a weekly parenting blog for PsychCentral.

JoAnn Ponder, PhD is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Austin, Texas.

Kristin Davisson, PsyD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Chicago.

Maurine Kelber Kelly PhD, FIPA is a Training and Supervising Analyst with the Contemporary Freudian Society and served as adjunct faculty in the PsyD program at The George Washington University.