Center for Women's & Gender Studies Undergraduate Theses

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    When expectation does not meet reality: Discordant childbirth narratives among Austin-area women
    (2013) Guidorzi, Brianna; Hopkins, Kristine
    Women’s experiences of childbirth are easily accessible: they are found aplenty in commercial bookstores, the pages of scholarly articles in nearly every academic discipline, and, perhaps most interestingly, at the dinner table. This abundance of stories does not, however, indicate a wide variance of narratives. Since the natural childbirth movement of the 1960s, popular narratives have presented childbirth predominantly as a positive or empowering event, while academic literature has employed childbirth narratives primarily to juxtapose delivery types. Missing from these romanticized and polarized representations of childbirth are the experiences of women whose plans, expectations, or desires for childbirth were not met in the event that actually transpired. My research focuses specifically on these narratives and explores the following questions: how do these women talk about and frame their childbirth narratives? There is little academic or nonacademic literature discussing discordant experiences that contrast dominant childbirth narratives or that do not fit into specific categories of delivery type. Using data collected from interviews with twelve Austin-area women, my thesis analyzes the social and economic factors that influence childbirth plans and expectations, as well as actual outcomes. This work also examines how a woman’s body becomes the object upon which successes and failures of childbirth are placed and how the body is conflated with success or failure in motherhood. Finally, this thesis illustrates the specific ways in which my participants’ childbirth narratives are recorded and how those narratives evolve gradually over time. Broadly speaking, this feminist research calls for the diversification of representations of childbirth narratives in order to dismantle historical and contemporary preference for certain childbirth narratives over others.
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    Ayn Rand vs. ethics of care: Capitalist economics and women on welfare
    (2013-05) Thompson, Kelsey; Cloud, Dana
    The objective of this thesis is to examine how the political ideology of capitalism that heavily permeates today's culture and is so prominent within the popular novel Atlas Shrugged constructs our values in such a way as to marginalize women. I examine the ways in which freedom, independence, morality, and equality are thought about within liberalism and relate them to Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged to demonstrate how people who do not fit these values are considered less than citizens. I juxtapose this with a focus on how freedom, independence, morality and equality are constructed within a feminist ethics of care so as to more wholly include women within the realm of citizenship. I use this discussion to provide an alternative to the constructions of values that happen within capitalist political ideology and demonstrate ways in which these values can be envisioned without being marginalizing. I relate this to a discussion of women on welfare and how their testimonies provide a call to recognize the untruths and inequities of liberalism. These testimonies argue for a different societal construction of women on welfare that subverts the mainstream perception and aligns with a feminist ethics of care. I also investigate ways in which liberalism is currently prominent in mainstream ideology to emphasize the present effects that this is having on women and women on welfare.