Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece

By Heather Paxson | Go to book overview

2
Remaking Mothers
From an Ethic of Service
to an Ethic of Choice

“My dear Thanassi, 'innocence' is a creed like the Immaculate Conception, ” said Grandpa. “You believe in one, you certainly must believe in the other. Sex exerts its influence from the cradle to the grave. To call sex a sin is to think life a travesty and make hypocrisy a pleasure. I'd rather, like the ancients, believe in virtue. Virtue is proven, not bargained for with some priest. ”

IRINI SPANIDOU, God's Snake

She had been so certain all these years that babies came into this world or left it as a result of the will of God, and that even if a person didn't understand why God gave babies to some women and not to others, it was something that was never questioned. You prayed and hoped, and then left it up to God.

KATHERINE ALEXANDER, Children of Byzantium

Couples consciously decide to have a child. That is, the cases when some child comes without you wanting it or without you knowing it have decreased. A couple these days consciously decides to have a baby.

PHOEBE, forty-year-old administrative assistant

The word teknopiía—from tékno (child, offspring) and the verb stem pió (to make or do) can be rendered in English as “the making of children. ” Its sense is semantic, generalizing the specific action of “to have a child, ” káno pedhí, to a cultural abstraction. When Greeks talk about teknopiía, they refer to socially appropriate contexts and strategies for bringing a child into the world and, at the same time, comment on how having children (or not) affects one's life, one's relationships, and one's sense of self. Teknopiía unfolds in an ethical context, one that embraces and shapes gender as a socially ascribed and institutionally reinforced category of difference as

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