The solo mum, feminism and the negotiation of ‘choice’

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Discursive constructions of single women who have children via sperm donation invoke the significance of feminism as an implicit/ explicit frame in explaining the rise of the ‘solo mum’. Drawing on qualitative data from 25 interviews with single (UK) women who have decided to have a child this way, this article explores whether the participants saw this route as emerging out of - or connected to - feminist ideals, paying particular attention to the discursive negotiation of ‘choice’. As the women were ambivalent about discourses of ‘choice’ here, they did not see the decision to become a solo mum as one that emerged out of female empowerment or agency. Nevertheless, the role(s) of feminism here emerged as shifting and complex, and in analysing these contradictions, the study contributes to the on-going conceptual dilemma about how feminist research can approach the difficult question of women’s ‘choices’, especially in a context in which feminism is inextricably enmeshed with neoliberal and postfeminist ideologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Early online date25 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Solo mother
  • Feminism
  • Qualitative
  • Choice
  • Neoliberalism
  • heterosexuality

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