Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the Reproductive Body, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Managing the Monstrous Feminine

Regulating the Reproductive Body, 1st Edition

By Jane M. Ussher


236 pages

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Managing the Monstrous Feminine takes a unique approach to the study of the material and discursive practices associated with the construction and regulation of the female body. Jane Ussher examines the ways in which medicine, science, the law and popular culture combine to produce fictions about femininity, positioning the reproductive body as the source of women's power, danger and weakness.

Including sections on 'regulation', 'the subjectification of women' and 'women's negotiation and resistance', this book describes the construction of the 'monstrous feminine' in mythology, art, literature and film, revealing its implications for the regulation and experience of the fecund female body. Critical reviews are combined with case studies and extensive interview material to illuminate discussions of subjects including:

  • the regulation of women through the body
  • regimes of knowledge associated with reproduction
  • intersubjectivity and the body
  • women’s narratives of resistance.

These insights into the relation between the construction of the female body and women's subjectivity will be of interest to those studying health psychology, social psychology, medical sociology, gender studies and cultural studies. The book will also appeal to all those looking for a high-level introduction to contemporary feminist thought on the female body.


'The book is thought provoking and represents an exciting advance in Jane Ussher’s scholarship over the past twenty years, initially expressed through her original and challenging accounts of the psychology of the female body and women’s madness. Overall there is an upbeat message for women and a rallying cry and inspiration to challenge the ‘patriarchal gaze’ and its impact on our mental and physical well-being.' - Paula Nicolson, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

'This is a terrifically readable account of the wrongs done women by rendering ‘the fecund female body’ a site of meaningless, monstrous abjection. Together with ways of combating this with examples from Jane Ussher’s own personal life, as well as with examples from the visual arts, and from group and individual women’s re-telling of their experiences, Managing the Monstrous Feminine does much to render speakable the unspeakable, specifically regarding ‘PMS’.' - Janet Sayers, University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

Table of Contents

Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the Reproductive Body. Mad, Bad, Bloody Women: The Shame of Menarche and Pathologizing of Premenstrual Change. Embodying the Grotesque Feminine: The Pregnant and Postnatal Body. The Horror of this Living Decay’: Menopause and Aging Body. Regulation and Resistance: Women's Negotiation of Embodied Subject Positions. Appendix One: Details of the Interviews with Women on PMS, PND and Widlife. Appendix Two: Details of Women Centred Psychological Therapy Package

About the Author/Editor

Jane M Ussher is Professor of Women’s Health Psychology, and director of the Gender Culture and Health Research Unit: PsyHealth, at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She is author and editor of a number of books, including The Psychology of the Female Body and Body Talk: Material and Discursive Regulation of Sexuality, Madness and Reproduction. Her current research focuses on women’s sexual and reproductive health, with particular emphasis on premenstrual experiences, and gendered issues in caring.

About the Series

Women and Psychology

This series brings together current theory and research on women and psychology. Drawing on scholarship from a number of different areas of psychology, it bridges the gap between abstract research and the reality of women's lives by integrating theory and practice, research and policy.

Each book addresses a 'cutting edge' issue of research, covering topics such as postnatal depression and eating disorders, and addressing a wide range of theories and methodologies.

The series provides accessible and concise accounts of key issues in the study of women and psychology, and clearly demonstrates the centrality of psychology debates within women's studies or feminism.

Learn more…

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