Gender and body-based distinctions continue to be a defining component of women’s identities, both in psychoanalytic treatment and in life. Although females have made progress in many areas, their status within the human community has remained unstable and subject to societal whim. A Womb of Her Own brings together a distinguished group of contributors to explore, from a psychoanalytic perspective, the ways in which women’s sexual and reproductive capabilities, and their bodies, are regarded as societal and patriarchal property, not as the possession of individual women. It further examines how women have been viewed as the "other" and thus become the focus of mistreatment such as rape, sexual slavery, restriction of reproduction rights, and ongoing societal repression.  

Postmodern gender theories have greatly enhanced understanding of the fluidity of gender and freed women from repressive stereotypes, but attention has shifted prematurely from the power differential that continues to exist between men and women. Before the male/female binary is transcended, the limitations imposed upon women by the still prevailing patriarchal order must be addressed. To this end, A Womb of Her Own addresses issues such as the prevalence of rape culture and its historical roots; the relationship of the LGBT movement to feminism; current sexual practices such as sexting and tattooing and their meaning to women; reproductive issues including infertility; adoption; postpartum depression and the actual experience of birthing—all from the perspectives of women. The book also explores the cultural definitions of motherhood, and how such definitions set exacting standards both for the acceptable face of motherhood and for women generally.

While women’s unique anatomy and biology have historically contributed to their oppression in a patriarchal society, it is the exploration and illumination of these capabilities from their own perspective that will allow women to claim and control them as their own. Covering a broad, topical range of contemporary subjects, A Womb of Her Own will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as scholars and students of gender and women’s studies.

chapter |4 pages


ByEllen L. K. Toronto

section I|63 pages

A culture of oppression

chapter |3 pages

Commentary on Section I

A culture of oppression
ByMaurine Kelber Kelly

chapter 1|20 pages

Gender Inequality in a (Still) Binary World

ByEllen L. K. Toronto

chapter 2|15 pages


A revolutionary call about female sexuality
ByDoris K. Silverman

chapter 3|21 pages

“We’re (not) Pregnant”

Gay men and women’s reproductive rights
ByRichard Ruth

chapter |7 pages

Response to Section I

A culture of oppression
ByMarilyn Metzl

section II|69 pages

Women and sexual trauma

chapter |3 pages

Commentary on Section II

Women and sexual trauma
ByKristin Davisson

chapter 4|20 pages

Date Rape and the Demon-Lover Complex

The divine, the deviant, and the diabolical in male/female politics
BySusan Kavaler-Adler

chapter 5|26 pages

Secondary Sexual Trauma of Women

Female witnesses
ByKristin Davisson

chapter 6|17 pages

Chasing Justice

Bystander intervention and restorative justice in the contexts of college campuses and psychoanalytic institutes
ByKatie Gentile

section |64 pages

Women defining motherhood

chapter |3 pages

Commentary on Section III

Women defining motherhood
ByJoAnn Ponder

chapter 7|25 pages

Childfree Women

Surviving the pushback and forming an identity in the internet era
ByAdi Avivi

chapter 8|13 pages

A Perfect Birth

The Birth Rights Movement and the idealization of birth
ByHelena Vissing

chapter 9|18 pages

From Infertility and Empty Womb to Maternal Fulfillment

The psychological birth of the adoptive mother
ByJoAnn Ponder

section |36 pages

Mother as therapist / therapist as mother

chapter |4 pages

Commentary on Section IV

Mother as therapist / therapist as mother
ByEllen L. K. Toronto

chapter 10|13 pages

Too warm, too soft, too maternal

What is good enough?
ByMeredith Darcy

chapter 11|16 pages

Get a Grip

How a psychotherapist’s postpartum depression disrupted the illusion of the idealized mother and changed forever what it means to “hold”
ByKristin A. Reale