'Age shall not weary them' : the case of Adriana Iliescu and the older maternal body

Muller, Vivienne (2006) 'Age shall not weary them' : the case of Adriana Iliescu and the older maternal body. Outskirts : Feminisms Along the Edge, 14, pp. 1-13.

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The personal and private politics of mothering and motherhood and the cultural discourses with which these dialogue, often betray a complex and disturbing relationship with female corporeality. My focus in this piece is on a specific female body, an aged maternal body, that of Adriana Iliescu, a 66-year-old postmenopausal Romanian woman and retired academic who gave birth to daughter Eliza Maria in January, 2005, after nine years of IVF treatment, donor eggs and sperm and the death of two of the implanted triplets; an event which generated a range of media responses from various interpretive stakeholders (doctors, journalists, religious groups, private citizens, older mothers). My interest for the purposes of this paper is on a number of responses in newspapers and on blog sites which focused on Iliescu’s child-bearing body, and the anxiety, alarm and outrage it spawned as a maternal body well past its use-by date. These mostly negative reactions underpin a not-unfamiliar cultural discourse about what constitutes the ‘good and proper’ maternal body, a discourse which relegates other types of maternal bodies to an abject subject position in the symbolic and social order. As an older and single maternal body, Adriana lliescu’s act is doubly stigmatised – participating in the disturbing processes of boundary crossing, and generating what Elizabeth Grosz nominates as an “intolerable ambiguity” (1996, p.55).

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ID Code: 18871
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1445-0445
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Deposited On: 18 Mar 2009 06:10
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:18

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