Radical Experiments Involving Innocent Children: Locating Parenthood in Queer Utopia

  • Jane Ward
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Critical Studies in Gender, Sexuality, and Culture book series (CSGSC)


Contemporary parenthood is a condition bound up with heteronormative futurity. The child symbolizes the future itself, with its ostensibly limitless and unknowable possibilities. The child’s future can go “either way,” good or bad, normal or queer, gratifying or terrifying. Following in the traditions of their time and place, parents set the stage for a future they hope will be healthy and prosperous, offering them a return on their investment. As sociologist Sharon Hays has suggested, social expectations regarding adult investments in children proliferated in the late twentieth century as the ideology of “intensive mothering” took hold. Current generations of parents are taught by parenting experts that adult/child relationships must be child-centered, expert-guided, emotionally absorbing, labor-intensive, and financially expensive in order to ensure children’s future success.2


Gender Identity Gender Nonconformity Queer Theory Childhood Gender Nonconformity Intensive Mothering 
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  1. 24.
    Elijah Ward, “Homophobia, Hypermasculinity, and the US Black Church,” Culture, Health & Sexuality 7, no. 5 (2005): 493–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Angela Jones 2013

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  • Jane Ward

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