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Flexibility of plural identities and paternities

Christine Castelain Meunier

We wish to draw attention to the fact that the changes characteristic of contemporary fatherhood are genuine and correspond to a major transformation, of historical dimensions. These changes, affecting paternal power, are both institutional and juridical and are replacing paternal power with negotiation and shared parental authority. Moreover, these changes reflect and reveal the breakdown and restructuring of maleness, pointing in a historically significant direction, based on “the mobility and flexibility of male↔female identity.” Far from subscribing to the notion of “crisis”, of maleness, of paternity, of authority, this paper focuses on the complex dynamics, made up of contradictions and tensions, but also of liberation and innovation, that characterize today’s parenthood and that are filling the vacuum created by the dynamics of allocation of male and female place and roles with regard to the child.