The feminist literature against the commodification of embryos in human embryo research includes an argument to the effect that embryos are "intimately connected" to persons, or morally inalienable from them. We explore why embryos might be inalienable to persons and why feminists might find this view appealing. But, ultimately, as feminists, we reject this view because it is inconsistent with full respect for women's reproductive autonomy and with a feminist conception of persons as relational, embodied beings. Overall, feminists should avoid claims about embryos' being inalienable to persons in arguments for or against the commodification of human embryos.
Today's personable, sanitized images of human embryos and fetuses require an audience that is literally and metaphorically distanced from dead specimens. Yet scientists must handle dead specimens to produce embryological knowledge, which only then can be transformed into beautiful photographs and talking fetuses. I begin with an account of Gertrude Stein's experience making a model of a fetal brain. Her tactile encounter is contrasted to the avant-garde artistic tradition that later came to dominate embryo imagery. This essay shows the embryo visualizations portrayed in a contemporary coffee-table book about gestational development to be a remarkable political achievement predicated, in part, on keeping hidden the unsavory details of anatomical technique that transform dead specimens into icons of life.
This article critically examines the constitution of impairment in prenatal testing and screening practices and various discourses that surround these technologies. While technologies to test and screen (for impairment) prenatally are claimed to enhance women's capacity to be self-determining, make informed reproductive choices, and, in effect, wrest control of their bodies from a patriarchal medical establishment, I contend that this emerging relation between pregnant women and reproductive technologies is a new strategy of a form of power that began to emerge in the late eighteenth century. Indeed, my argument is that the constitution of prenatal impairment, by and through these practices and procedures, is a widening form of modern government that increasingly limits the field of possible conduct in response to pregnancy. Hence, the government of impairment in utero is inextricably intertwined with the government of the maternal body.
We criticize a view of maternity that equates the natural with the genetic and biological and show how such a practice overdetermines the maternal body and the maternal experience for women who are mothers through adoption and ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies). As an alternative, we propose a new framework designed to rethink maternal bodies through the lens of feminist embodiment. Feminist embodied maternity, as we call it, stresses the particularity of experience through subjective embodiment. A feminist embodied maternity emphasizes the physical relations of the subjective lived-body rather than the genetic or biological connections. Instead of universalizing claims about the maternal body, embodied maternity looks to communicable experiences and empathetic understanding.
This essay is a collection of my experiences of and reflections on being pregnant and choosing to place the child for open adoption. The piece was started late in the term of my pregnancy and completed about a week before the birth.
This paper engages with theories of the monstrous maternal in feminist philosophy to explore how examples of visual art practice by Susan Hiller, Marc Quinn, Alison Lapper, Tracey Emin, and Cindy Sherman disrupt maternal ideals in visual culture through differently imagined body schema. By examining instances of the pregnant body represented in relation to maternal subjectivity, disability, abortion, and "prosthetic" pregnancy, it asks whether the "monstrous" can offer different kinds of figurations of the maternal that acknowledge the agency and potential power of the pregnant subject.
In recent years, critics of modern obstetrics have cited technology as responsible for women's discontent regarding childbirth. In this essay, I investigate and pry apart the connection between the quality of childbirth experience and technology. After identifying three factors considered constitutive of a 'good birth,' I demonstrate how technology can either facilitate or hinder each, but how dominant strains of birthing practice that reinforce female shame (hospital-based obstetrics and midwifery) consistently undermine them all. It is not technology per se, but its sensitive application, which may most effectively promote an optimal and affirming birth experience.
Bible. O.T. Numbers XI, 12 -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Moses (Biblical leader)
Emmanuel Levinas compares ethical responsibility to a maternal body who bears the Other in the same without assimilation. In explicating this trope, he refers to a biblical passage in which Moses is like a "wet nurse" bearing Others whom he has "neither conceived nor given birth to" (Num. 11:12). A close reading of this passage raises questions about ethics, maternity, and sexual difference, for both the concept of ethical substitution and the material practice of mothering.
Contemporary global health crises that involve mothers necessarily invoke the varied cultural problematics of maternal embodiment. Examining breastfeeding in light of current concerns about maternal contagion and contamination, with special attention to HIV and environmental toxins, allows us to consider how ambivalence toward maternal embodiment affects the ways we address these health crises within which mothers figure so significantly.
Breastfeeding -- Government policy -- United States.
Breastfeeding -- United States.
Children -- Health and hygiene.
Mothers serve as an important layer of the health-care system, with special responsibilities to care for the health of families and nations. In our social discourse, we tend to treat maternal "choices" as though they were morally and causally self-contained units of influence with primary control over children's health. In this essay, I use infant feeding as a lens for examining the ethical contours of mothers' caretaking practices and responsibilities, as they are situated within cultural meanings and institutional pressures. I give a close critical reading of the content and strategy of the new breastfeeding advocacy campaign sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. I argue that the campaign is unlikely to substantially increase breastfeeding rates, unresponsive and even hostile to many women's actual concerns about breastfeeding, and well positioned to produce shame and compromise agency among the women it targets.
I develop a model of love or care between children and their parents guided by experiences of parents, especially mothers, with disabilities. On this model, a caring relationship requires both parties to be aware of each other as a particular (not interchangeable) person and it requires reciprocity. This does not mean that children need to be able to articulate their interests, or that they need to be self-reflectively aware of their parents' interests or personhood. Instead, parents and children manifest their understanding of one another as unique, irreplaceable individuals, with identifiable needs and interests through their interactions with one another.
A pronatalist perspective on maternal bodies renders the adoptive maternal body queer. In this essay, I argue that the queerness of the adoptive maternal body makes it a useful epistemic standpoint from which to critique dominant views of mothering. In particular, exploring motherhood through the lens of adoption reveals the discursive mediation and social regulation of all maternal bodies, as well as the normalizing assumptions of heteronormativity, "reprosexuality," and family homogeneity that frame a traditional view of the biological family. As participants in motherhood who resist "repro-narrativity," " reprosexuality," and essentialism, adoptive maternal bodies have the potential to both queer our notions of normal mothering and normalize our notions of queer mothering.