Vanessa Olorenshaw’s Liberating Motherhood was published in 2016. The book raises the issue of the absence of mothers in feminism and politics. It is not enough to simply have women in leadership. Not all women are mothers and not all mothers mother the same. Society encourages us to return to paid work, outside the home, placing children into the care of others. And whilst the needs of these parents are being considered and pushed for, those that prefer to stay home and care for their children themselves are invisible and silent.
Michel Odent has pointed out the evolutionary impacts our modern approach to birth could have in his book Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapiens.
We are seeing a Brave New World emerging. The reproductive technologies and equality politics are combining to form a new paradigm. Is it need or want, chicken or egg?
What does this mean for the future of humanity?
Along with Liberating Motherhood and Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapiens, the following two articles have prompted the discussion on Maternal Feminism.
The second from The Guardian looks at the ethical dilemma we face once this technology becomes more widely available. A Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley in 1932, sets a possible future. Is the future already here? Whilst these technologies open up opportunities and seemingly provide an equal playing field, as discussed in the second article, the ‘warning’ provided to us in Huxley’s novel should encourage us to consider the ultimate impacts.To blindly embrace, or even benignly accept, such technologies based on ideals of equity or entitlement, dehumanises the natural process. The availability and possibility of technologies that ‘free’ us from the ‘difficulties’ of the natural process and the perceived inequities does not make it right or good to use them.
Death, infertility, sexuality and identity all complicate the issue.
For many people, death is not an option…it is a last resort, and not easily accepted. External womb technologies could see us saving foetuses earlier and earlier…replacing gestation within a woman completely.
Infertility, or inability, see IVF and surrogate mothers being used to grow a biologically matched baby for those willing and able to pay for the services. The ethics surrounding these technologies are often pushed aside or placed in the ‘too hard basket’, in the interest of equality or entitlement. Just because you want something desperately, does not mean you should have it – especially if you can pay for it. Adoption can be difficult, and is very expensive, and accepting the loss of a much wanted family lacks support and understanding.
As the commodification of reproduction becomes more common, and more accessible, it becomes more acceptable. It becomes the ‘norm’. Less and less people question it, and the ethics becomes an academic discussion by a few keen philosophical thinkers. Those that wish to reproduce, and birth, naturally are pushed further and further into the fringes. It does not take a giant leap in logic to see that the next step is the total medicalisation of humanity. Will we be able to shit without assistance?
If this all seems extreme, take a moment to reflect on current reproductive, birth and parenting technologies, and just how normal they are. It is a rare month that ‘home birth’ is not vilified by the media, complete with quotes from ‘leading obstetricians’. People who choose more natural pathways are patronised and belittled, they are the butt of the joke, a joke that is created by those that benefit from the commodification and medicalisation of society. “Follow the money”, as the saying goes. Not using a cot and baby monitor in favour of holding your baby and cosleeping, will see you criticised and even ostracised by other parents who have accepted the marketing and propaganda as a source of information. Following your instinct is replaced with convenience technologies, which appeals to the fast paced, instant gratification culture we are immersed in.
Follow the Money.
The peddlers of the ‘convenience technologies’, such as formula companies, advertise in medical journals. They sponsor seminars and conferences, and put up ‘expert’ speakers to place these products front and centre in the minds of care providers. These companies fund researchers to conclude that these products are safe, and improve ‘something’. They then use this research to promote the product as ‘scientific’. This pseudo-credibility is marketing and propaganda, but is received as information.
As marketing and media reports become the primary source of ‘information’ for the majority of people, the effective brainwashing of a society occurs. Social media shapes our thinking, by providing a platform for trolls (many who are paid) and using algorithims that feed you what you want to know. In this way, majority thinkers can push critical thinkers to the fringes, as herd mentality becomes the driving force.
We are but a step away from a brave new world, where those who do not accept the technologies will no longer be fringe dwellers, but will be ‘savages’ living in what ever wild remnants they can find. The majority will, for the most part, be blissfully unaware of their entrapment.
And Key to all this is the disappearance of ‘women’.
The political and commodified lines between ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are dissolving. It is a process that is not just rendering biological females invisible, but doing away with them completely. While maternity units move towards ‘inclusive’ language, arguably there are no longer women, but only people. We can not talk about biology anymore. All is medicalised and politicised. The natural is taboo.
We must resist these dehumanising technologies; just because we can, does not mean we should. As society slips ever closer to a brave new world, we must hold tight to our humanity.
This is a huge topic, with many facets, and must not be considered lightly. You can be a critical thinker. You can draw your own conclusions.