N. 10 (2024): The Discursive Construction of Contemporary Family Types

The Discursive Construction of Non-Conventional Parenthood Online: Single Mothers and Single Fathers by Choice

Giuseppina Scotto di Carlo
University of Naples L’Orientale

Pubblicato 2024-06-27

Come citare

Scotto di Carlo, G. . (2024). The Discursive Construction of Non-Conventional Parenthood Online: Single Mothers and Single Fathers by Choice. De Genere - Rivista Di Studi Letterari, Postcoloniali E Di Genere, (10), 59–79. Recuperato da https://www.degenere-journal.it/index.php/degenere/article/view/204


In the last few decades, advancements in reproductive technologies have granted the opportunity to pursue parenthood regardless of one’s relationship status, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the emergence of Single Mothers and Single Fathers by Choice (SMBC and SFBC) has sparked significant controversy, challenging the conventional concept of family, which typically includes both maternal and paternal figures. In this context, this study delves into the intricate discourse surrounding SMBC and SFBC as it manifests on social media. These platforms wield substantial influence in either perpetuating the stigmatisation or promoting acceptance of these non-traditional family structures. By conducting a qualitative and quantitative sentiment and discourse analysis of two corpora of YouTube comments on this topic, this research examines the representations associated with these family choices as disseminated through media outlets. Overall, the corpora reveal a more positive stance expressed towards SFBC, either through genuine expressions of praise or subtle forms of benevolent sexism. Conversely, comments tend to adopt a more critical tone when discussing SMBC, often portraying them as self-centered women pursuing their maternal desires potentially at the expense of denying their children a paternal presence. Despite notable disparities, both corpora express optimism regarding increased access to assisted reproductive technologies for single individuals in the future. Furthermore, they underscore the idea that children's well-being may not hinge on the presence of both a mother and a father, but rather on nurturing bonds capable of ensuring their social and psychological development.​​