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Is pregnancy barbaric?

Thread at Feministe, on comments by radical feminist Shulamith Firestone in 1970. Comments spend a fair amount of time discussing Bujold, which warms my heart. One poster wonders if one's gut reaction toward uterine replicators (Bujold) or exowombs (Transhuman Space) is governed by prior exposure to Brave New World vs. Bujold.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
Interesting thread, but somewhat disappointing at how many people seemed to think that exowombs would be more barbaric or in some other technophobic way worse than normal pregnancy. OTOH, I am equally certain that once exowombs are developed (and from what I've read they are both inevitable and the very first models are likely to exist in the next decade or so, and someone puts a good ad campaign behind popularizing them, natural pregnancy will become an option chosen only by eccentrics and the poor.
Oct. 30th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
I didn't read everything, but I find it odd that pregnancy specifically would be singled out as barbaric - what about other biological functions like eating, urinating, having sex, etc.

It reminds me of the anti-breastfeeding rhetoric though in terms of being "unfair" to women, "gross" and "animalistic" (which I find odd, because of course, we are animals).

Lots of women find it empowering to let their bodies do what they are supposed to do, and to do things that men can't do with them. And of course its the one time in a woman's life where her body is about _her_ (and her child) and she has some freedom from conformity to standard beauty images.

I don't know how popular an exowomb would be, but having fun imagining some of the repercussions. Right now there is a small but strong movement towards more natural childbirth and child rearing practices - less doctors, more midwives, more homebirths - and in some cases for the really harcore: unassisted childbirth with no help at all. I lean more in that direction myself, but then I'm someone who loved being pregnant and had a fairly easy time with it.

Oct. 30th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
There was a fair bit of material in the comments, including people disputing the claim, or questioning what "barbaric" even means. Plus some asking why Firestone was devaluing the one thing only women can do. But also a lot of women saying "it's great pregnancy is fun for some women, but dear god I'd love an exowomb rather than shitting out a pumpkin with permanent changes to my health."

As for singling out pregnancy, I infer that Firestone had a thesis of how pregnancy was a keystone of the social subjugation of women. Everyone shits, only women spend nine months dueling their fetus for control of their bone calcium, so you've got both specialization and intensity, vs. something everyone does which isn't that big a deal.

As apparently a radical rather than liberal feminist, she apparently had extreme positions of "pregnancy is treachery", while the pro-exowomb commenters said "of course no one should be forced to use one".
Oct. 30th, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
Presumably the wide use of exowombs would mean the end of breastfeeding and associated health benefits since induced lactation ( so far) is rarely completely successful and skips the very early and critical colostrum producing phase.
Oct. 30th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
That's a valid concern. OTOH, technology which was capable of building/growing a no-drawbacks exowomb might well have something more advanced to say about either induced lactation or 'synthetic' milk. If you can support a placenta in a machine, maybe you can grow mammary glands with immune backup, with the requisite hormonal manipulation.

This is mature biotech territory, but yeah...

(One of my problems with the Bujold books is how anyone with access to full medicine manages to die. They're demonstrated as being capable of replacing or growing any individual body part, as well as risky brain transplants to full clone bodies.)
Oct. 30th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
Or we could have a wet-nurse revival if exo-womb techonology develops before milk substitute is developed. I can envision a scenario where having a lactating nanny would become a status symbol.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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