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Oxytocin, Feminist Science Studies

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Jennifer Su

on 21 June 2014

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Transcript of Oxytocin, Feminist Science Studies

Motherhood, Monogamy and Social Behaviors Oxytocin and the Science of Love Reduction of the female body to its reproductive capacity

Construction and regulation of biopolitical value

Naturalization of motherhood and families Using Oxytocin to Naturalize
Familial Exclusion Our Approaches: Oxytocin in the human body Discovery and History Law and Public Policy Why is it a problem? Physiology of oxytocin in the human body and the naturalization of maternal behaviors
Research on sex hormones and oxytocin's early history ; Influence on popular science
Law and Public Policy: Regulation and legitimizing constructs of motherhood and families.
The use of oxytocin in representing female intimacy behaviors and its association with mother infant bonding Influence on "Pop Science" Oxytocin often referred to in studies on monogamy in humans
Little research on oxytocin’s ability to create “emotional bonds” for life in humans
Effects compared to ecstasy, without the high
Modern theories still deeply rooted in gender roles -> women are always mothers, current or future
Oxytocin does not need to be present for a woman to exhibit maternal behavior
Belief that women are naturally monogamous because of oxytocin, and men are naturally promiscuous Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF) Mother Partner Bonding assn. Mother Infant Bonding Conclusions Is oxytocin used to regulate social behaviors, and naturalize motherhood and familial exclusion? Connections / Implications "To prevent and reduce the incidence of wedlock pregnancies..."

"To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families." Id. § 601 (a) and 45 CFR § 260.20. Regulating Mothers and Their Families Family Caps
Loss of benefits for having additional children while on welfare

Small monetary incentives given to a mother to marry the father of her child
Combined with a loss of benefits for additional children

Work Requirements
Single parents must participate in qualifying work activities for 30 hours a week, or they will lose benefits. Welfare and Welfare Reform Representing female bonding and intimacy behaviors
Central Questions
How is oxytocin used in conversations on partner selection, preference, trust, and attachment.
How is oxytocin used in discussions of childbirth, mother infant bonding behaviors (antenetal and postnatal) Mother Infant Bonding
The reproductive female body = scientific and social site/center of oxytocin
How is oxytocin used in conversations on partner selection, preference, trust, and attachment
increases trust - trust linked to in-group favoritism
How is oxytocin used in discussions of childbirth, mother infant bonding behaviors
emphasized biological reward for social behaviors
motherhood linked to social behaviors
Stories of exclusion and management of reproduction
Culture is embodied through biology - biology does not create culture. Mother Partner Bonding "Maternal and romantic love share a common and crucial evolutionary purpose, namely the maintenance and perpetuation of the species. Both ensure the formation of firm bonds between individuals, by making this behavior a rewarding experience. They therefor share a similar evolutionary origin and serve a similar biological function. It is likely that they also share at least a core of common neural mechanisms."
Bartels and Zeki, 2003 Oxytocin - the 'Love Hormone' Sarah Bingham, Paige Mayforth,
Sola Stamm and Jennifer Su

Feminist Science Studies
December 5, 2012 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
Indefinite cash assistance for low-income mothers and children

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA or Welfare Reform)
Replaced AFDC with TANF

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Cash assistance program with strict time limits and work requirements Authoritative reflection of social constructs

Law controls and regulates many aspects of social behavior Where Oxytocin (OT) is made OT has endocrine actions throughout the body OT receptors in the body Trust, attachment, bonding, intimacy, etc
"Oxytocin Shapes the Neural Circuitry of Trust and Trust Adaptation in Humans"
double-blind administration of oxytocin with fMRI trusting behavior had no change in test group despite experimental breeches in trust
"Oxytocin Promotes Human Ethnocentrism" double-blind placebo-controlled studies oxytocin did create intergroup bias and motivated in-group favoritism Secretion has physiological effect
when used as a form of authority/tool
biological reward for social behaviors
associate motherhood with sexual intimacy
ex: "Neural Correlates of Maternal and Romantic Love"
fMRI to measure brain activity in mothers when viewing images of children / adult aquaintences
both types of attachement activated brain reward system / deactivated regions associated with negative emotions. 1909- Sir Henry Dale discovers oxytocin and its benefits during labor
1910- hormones began to be researched, believed to be responsible for sex differences, or "chemical messengers of masculinity and femininity"
Researchers studied hormones secreted in urine (mostly female)
Subsequent research on oxytocin revolved around pregnancy and labor Gendered Hormones “The concentration of work on female hormones was due to the availability of networks of action that could supply research materials.” (A Matter of Embodied Fact, Roberts, 2002) Women's urine was more easily available than men's through gynecological clinics
Networks, companies, and research was set up around women's bodies
Hormones were labeled as "male" or "female", despite both sexes having the same hormones and being chemically similar Definition of maternal behavior:
“Maternal behavior includes stereotypical behaviors that provide newborns with the nutrition, warmth, and protection they require to survive until they can fend for themselves” -Pederson et al. (1992) OT as a mechanism for maternal behavior Oxytocin and Maternal Behavior Cervical Stimulation causes maternal bonding OT release reduces rates of infanticide Pederson, Cort A., Jack D. Caldwell, Gustav F. Jirikowski, and Thomas R. Insel. Oxytocin in
Maternal,Sexual, and Social Behaviors. New York : The New York Academy of Sciences, 1992. 1-491. Print. LA Times reports: "Hormone may help protect monogamous relationships" from the study "Oxytocin modulates social distance between males and females"
Does oxytocin really make humans pair bond for life?
Who is expected to be monogamous? Why is the female reproductive body the scientific and social site for oxytocin production? Why does oxytocin tell stories of exclusion and reproductive control? Current Research
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