The Cruelty of Kin: Rejection and Abjection in Rebecca Brown's Representations of Parent-Child Relationships
Keywords: Rebecca Brown, biological kinship, familial homophobia, abjection, reproductive futurism
AbstractThe work of the contemporary lesbian author Rebecca Brown can be read as a dramatization of the chosen nature of biological kinship ties –ties that are, in popular belief as in academic circles, still often considered “natural” and, therefore, dependable. Focusing on familial homophobia brings to the fore this element of choice: several of Brown’s lesbian protagonists find the “enduring solidarity” that anthropologist David Schneider famously attributed to the biological family radically contested. Brown further dissolves the naturalness of biological kinship through horrifying descriptions of childbirth, and through portrayals of her mother characters’ lack of attachment to their babies. Presenting these infants as abjects, Brown also steers clear of the passivity of the motherly “vessel” that is apparent from standard theoretical accounts on abjection, which inevitably relegate the mother’s body to the realm of the abject. Many of the babies of her lesbian protagonists, moreover, grow up to be monstrous kids. Thus Brown can be seen to contest the idea of the saintly child as our hope for the future for which everything has to be done –an ideology Lee Edelman has termed “reproductive futurism”, and which is frequently used against queers, whose sexuality is deemed incompatible with futurity
Authors who publish with Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).