Reconceiving Women

Separating Motherhood from Female Identity

Mardy S. Ireland

June 1, 1993
ISBN 9780898620160
Price: $19.95 $14.96
195 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

“[A] smart, challenging book....Accessible and necessary.”

The New York Times Book Review

“Reconceiving Women will be of interest to clinicians, especially those who work with women who are struggling with decisions about childbearing or who are confronting the impossibility of conceiving.”

Contemporary Psychology

“Finally, a book about women who are not mothers—normal women who by choice or happenstance remain childless. If you want to understand who these women are, what they think and feel, how deeply the ideology of motherhood has infected our thinking about women and femininity, read Mardy Ireland's insightful and sensitive analysis of women who, even today, remain an anomaly, seen as less than 'woman' simply because they are not mothers.”

—Lillian Rubin, Ph.D., author of Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working Class Family and Intimate Strangers: Men and Women Together

“Dr. Ireland has written an outstanding, pathbreaking book that gives a long-absent and much-needed voice and place to the 'other' women in our culture. By sharing the stories of childless women she has interviewed, Dr. Ireland holds up a mirror in which the diverse group of women who are not mothers can finally see their reflection. Beyond this significant contribution, she artfully considers their stories in the context of clearly presented psychoanalytic theory and feminist thought. In an evenhanded manner she broadens our conception of female identity, until now too-narrowly defined by our culture, apart from the social and psychic reality of women. By reconceiving women so that the concrete fact of childlessness is not the same as its meaning in the context of women's lives, Ireland succeeds in separating motherhood from female identity. In the psychological space she creates, she transforms the loss or absence of children into the presence of new potential. Dr. Ireland thus gives all contemporary women psychological room and permission to find new metaphors for female identity and innovative pathways for their intrinsic creative and generative energy.”

—Sue N. Elkind, Ph.D.

“Mardy Ireland's RECONCEIVING WOMEN: SEPARATING MOTHERHOOD FROM FEMALE IDENTITY is a necessary book for anyone interested in contemporary feminism and psychoanalytic theory. In the first half of this book, Ireland delineates a cultural problem new to contemporary history: the child-less woman. In three categories (traditional women/child-less; transitional women/child-free & child-less; transformative women: child-free) she examines the psychoanalytic views of well-known female psychologists. “In the second half of the book, Ireland breaks new ground for the American psychoanalytic clinic, particularly in making an opening for working with particular female problems. Her innovate work here makes of this clear and well-written book required reading for feminists and clinical psychologists. “Mardy Ireland's book opens a clear path for object-relations clinicians to follow in their desire to begin working with Lacan: especially in the all crucial areas of gender politics and sexual difference.”

—Ellie Ragland Sullivan, Ph.D., Department of English, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO