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‘You’re 16…you should probably be on the pill’: Girls, the non-reproductive body, and the rhetoric of self-control

Author:

Lisa Smith

About Lisa
Lisa Smith is an academic, yoga teacher, activist, musician and mother of two young boys. She has recently completed a PhD in sociology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Her research focuses on moral and social regulation of women's reproductive bodies, law and religion and post-structural feminist studies of self and subjectivity. Her work has appeared in Social Compass and a recent edited collection, published by Queen's University Press, on the politics of reproduction in Canada.
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Abstract

In this paper I explore the ways that the use of the pill and the ideal of the non-reproductive body intersect within the unique context of girls as subjects in contemporary Canadian society. Analysis draws on a series of twenty-seven qualitative interviews conducted in Montreal as part of my doctoral research with young Canadian women currently taking the pill. I found that women are expected to exercise choice, even though they have access to very few options. However, this disjuncture is even more marked when the subject in question is a young woman due to the intersection of youth, gender, and sexuality, which produces a more complicated practice of freedom because the boundaries of subjectivity are in flux. The pill is a manifestation of an ethic of rational preventative self-care. While we might embrace these technologies of freedom for how they provide increased control over the body, the material point is that in using technologies like the pill young women enter into complex social systems and relationships that paradoxically limit their autonomy.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/sim.6
How to Cite: Smith, L., (2014). ‘You’re 16…you should probably be on the pill’: Girls, the non-reproductive body, and the rhetoric of self-control. Studies in the Maternal. 6(1), pp.1–26. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/sim.6
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Published on 01 Jan 2014.
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