chapter  1
21 Pages

The Stick and the Carrot: Public Meanings of Black and White Single Pregnancy in the Pre-Roe v. Wade Era

Race-specific explanations and experiences of single pregnancy in the postwar era shored up evidence ofdifference and hierarchy of race. They also affirmed a different degree and kind of sexuality in black and white women. In addition, racially specific ideas about single pregnant women supported similar ideas, policies, and practices regarding the babies born to these women . This chapter argues that public discourse assigned black and white unwed mothers strikingly different meanings, meanings that justified differential treatment of the girls and women involved and of their children . Thus the chapter-in fact, this entire study-demonstrates that the reproductive capacity has contributed to the oppression ofwomen in the United States in variable ways. Public policies and community practices enforced raciallydistinct lived experiences of black and white unwed mothers in the postwar era, despite the fact that all of these girls and women experienced the same biological events.