Families and generation
How we do we define families?
o Biological kinship
o Love and respect
o Emotional relationships
How are definitions of families and their members normalized?
How do state institutions affect families?
o Insurance (covering only family members)
o Rights in hospitals
o Marriage laws (same sex marriage now legal in certain countries,
what age you can get married at)
o Regulation of adoption (not allowing single mothers to adopt, must
be a married couple)
o Taking away children if they don‟t think you‟re a good parent
How does the labor market affect families (from last week)?
o Unsteady income
o Access to resources
How do we imagine children in society?
o Future generation of carrying what we pass on
o Have to be nurtured to develop into adults
o Passing down of culture, norms, morals, values, ideologies
Grekul: Sterilization in Alberta
Scholars, including Grekul, tie sterilization campaigns to eugenics.
What is eugenics?
o Promoting a certain race
o Tied to social Darwinism
Theory that species who weren‟t fit enough to compete in the
world would die off
1883: Francis Galton coined eugenics to refer to „good breeding‟.
Ideas of biological determinism tied to scientific racism (like begets like)
Emphasis in producing fit members of society
Ideas of who was “unfit” influences b social relations at the time
o Relied on ideas of gender, race, class and age
Histories of sterilization
U.S.: over 30 jurisdictions implemented sterilization programs, some
In Canada, Alberta & B.C has such programs, although albert was the
From eugenics to sterilization Precursors
o Early 1990s: campaigns to require mental health testing before
receiving a marriage license
Focus then became sterilization
o Campaigns from different groups including the Unites farm women
Why is the role of women in these campaigns important?
Feminist organizations “global sisterhood
o All women faced a shared oppression.
o Inherent in this sisterhood was a hierarchy that privileged middle
class, European or North American white women.
o At the same time that they were fighting for equality in terms of
gender, women were also creating other forms of oppression
Victorian era: “cult of domesticity
o Women were told that they had prominent societal role of taking
care of the home and raising future citizens (racialized and classed)
Some birth control advocates were also involved n the eugenics
o Margaret Sanger
Canadian feminists also involved, e.g. Nellie McClung
Alberta: 1928 Sexual Sterilization Act.
o Law overseen by Eugenics Board of Alberta (4 members)
o Allowed for the sterilization of inmates of mental health institutions
In 1937 the law was amended to permit the sterilization of some
individuals without consent
The 1950s were the peak years of the Alberta program, long after the
popularity of eugenics wand (esp. after WWII)
o Highly conservative government in Alberta
o Elected government officials were also religious leaders
o Economic boom that distracted citizens
Grekul argues that certain groups were overrepresented in sterilization
cases. Who were they?
o Teenagers and young adults
o The poor
Grekul also argues that there were age differences and gender differences
in the reasons why individuals were presented for sterilization
o Children more often diagnosed as „mental defectives‟
o Women faced high probability of presentation
o More men that women diagnosed as „mental defective‟
o What did the last two imply in terms of the reason why women were
Shifted emphasis from genetic to environmental „disorders‟ after WWII Women were not identified as „abnormal‟ in the psychiatric sense but in
the social sense
o E.g. family history, (perceived) promiscuity, performance in school
o P. 91
o Even the “potential for sexual activity” (p. 92)
How does sterilization produce a specific notion of the family, and who is
eligible to engage in the reproduction of that family ideal?
o Middle class, upper class adults
o 2 divisions one group has access and can create a family while
the other group can‟t.
Lenon: Marrying citizens! Raced subjects? Re-thinking the terrain of equal
Lenon is interested in analyzing how “appeals to a universal gay/lesbian…
What did she do?
o Analyzed legal submissions from successful British Columbia and
Ontario equal marriage cases
o And a submission from Egale (a national organization that
advocated rights of LGBT) to the House of Commons Standing
committee on Justice and Human Rights
Lets begin with the concept of heteronormativity?
What is it?
“Social practices that promote heterosexuality are enforced by agents of
socialization that include: the family, schools, religious organizations and
places where people work”
Heterosexuality seen as the norm
Other sexualities are “deviant”
Heteronormativity, and therefore, heterosexuality, are not “natural” or
“essential” characteristics of humans.
They need to be activity maintained and supported.
Lenon: “if marriage laws need to be buttressed with the phrase „opposite-
sex‟, then apparently heterosexuality is not natural enough to do without
Bill-C 38, which changed the legal definition of civil marriage to include
same sex couples, was therefore a victory in destabilizing
However, Lenon tells us, we need to pay attention to what other power
relations were involved in the passing of this policy (e.g. an integrative
First we need to investigate the role of