Thursday, August 23, 2007


In the August 28, 2007 issue of The Advocate, the closing article "Mommy and Me" (not linked online) covers the work of Lesbian psychiatrist Nanette Gartrell and her largest-ever longitudinal studies of Lesbian mothers and their children. Beginning in 1986, she and her colleagues set out to "develop a database of the first generation of Lesbian families whose children had been conceived by planned insemination." Using a patchwork of small grants and her own savings, the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study has followed 156 Lesbian mothers in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC since before their children were conceived until now. She met with them again when the children were 2, 5 and 10 years old. She intends to interview them again when the children are 17 and 25 years of age.

What caught my eye in this article was some of the results reported from the interview with the mothers and children at age 10. With an unprecendented 93% of the original cohort still participating, the article reports "Not one of the children had been physically or sexually abused in the home by a relative, friend, or family member. Compare that with the national rate: 38% of women and 5-10% of men report having been sexually abused as a child." That's just the sexual abuse report rate, not including other abuse or the fact that report rates are far less than what is actually occurring.

Gartnell is quoted as saying, "If the data hold up at age 17 and 25, it will be phenomenal. The ramifications of not needing social services to offset abuse is enormous. Not having our kids grow up in homes with a heterosexual adult male may be something to look into."

Well, duh.


shadocat said...

Remember this case?

I know Dawn and Lisa. Unfortunately, the stress of the court case helped to break them up.

I know the kids they were hoping to raise wouldn't have had the same emotional background as those inseminated children, but just think of how safe those foster kids would've been....

Maggie Jochild said...

Great article, Shado. I don't think I knew about that case.

Prior to the institutionalization of the heterosexual nuke fam as America now mythologizes it post World War II, families were much more extended and varied in composition. And one thing that has occurred, I believe, throughout human herstory is women helping to raise one another's children -- often in an attempt to keep the kids free from sexual predation by adult males. It's often unspoken, but the threat is there. Our generation is just another variation on the theme.

And, let me reiterate here: I believe, adamantly, that the proclivity to see children as sexual objects is NOT a biologist component of gender, but rather learned through male conditioning, the imprinting of so-called masculinity. It comes, in fact, from the same source that teaches in our culture why that which is perceived as "feminine" is sexually attractive. It's about equating sexual desire with power imbalance.

It's possible to be completely male or female without endorsing power imbalance, to have profound desire without power imbalance, and to raise safe, healthy children without power imbalance. I think our goal should be nothing less.