Womb Rights, Womb Wrongs

So. I heard in the news recently that pregnant women having natural abortions (ie miscarriages/stillbirths) are now up for murder charges with life imprisonment.  More ‘bad mother’ stuff. I suppose we can be grateful if they don’t get the death penalty.  Witches caused miscarriages too,  gave their foetuses the Evil Eye or some such, so they were burned at the stake.  “Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

No shit? Well, it makes perfect logical sense to male supremacy.  Because females are not human.  No human rights are given to non-humans, such as pregnant females.  Their female-specific organs are not human because there is no male-bodied equivalent and therefore logically, it stands to Human (ie male) reason that pregnant females, are not human.

The womb and its contents are so external to male bodies, so separated from their own sensory perceptions, that they cannot imagine it being a part of their own bodies, as an arm, or heart, or liver or kidney is.  Males and females share these organs, so they can be human.   The womb is female-specific therefore it is seen, by men and women both, under male supremacy as alien, separate, animal-like (because animal females have them too), but definitely Not-Human.   I remember being told in a lecture once, the strongest muscle in the human body, is the uterus.  But since men don’t have one, it can’t be human and some other muscle gets the name.  The only way a woman can be considered human under male-dominant laws, is to dissociate herself from her female organs as much as possible.  To consider them and their contents separate, to dissociate herself, to dis-member herself, to undergo social, psychological and physical cognitive dissonance, and most especially during the worst of all – during pregnancy.

This is the male-bodied experience of the world.  Mary Daly named this male-bodied sensory perception, ‘Foetal Identification Syndrome’.   Men, by their own physical senses, just cannot perceive the foetus as anything other than wholly separate from the container, hence they only perceive the foetus as human, not the ‘container’.

Female-bodied experience in attempting to be a naturally complete human, has a different perception formed from different sensory input.  Since language is Man-Made, women are often at a complete loss to describe their experiences of pregnancy, lactation or motherhood, as man-made words are often completely inadequate to describe something males cannot feel.

The foetus, like other bodily organs, is a part of her body, its her pregnancy, its her foetus, its a part of her, like her heart or liver or kidney.  Its her organs doing their thing.  The difference though between these and other organs, is that the process of foetal maturation can stop by itself, or be stopped through intervention, harmlessly during the process for various reasons, or it can mature and be born to continue its growth and maturation.

Natural abortion, (aka miscarriage, stillbirth etc) is sometimes explained away in compassion and well-meaningly as ‘Nature’s Way’.  Abortions when a woman intentionally causes a miscarriage, is considered high treason against the State.   I see it more as helping Nature along.  During the cyclical female holocausts over the millennia, even natural abortions are often seen as evidence of the mother’s intentional use of Evil Powers.  Under patriarchy, where women have little control over male demands for PIV, its a necessity for all women to be able to help Nature along in this way.

Either way, is Nature’s Way.  Either way can be harm-reduction in making the best-of-a-bad-situation under patriarchy.  Either way can, and is, used as a patriarchal weapon of violence-against-women.  Hence, while supporting abortion access as a necessary and critical harm-reduction strategy, harm-reduction measures for women who birth is equally critically important to support.  This is just in my own personal view, as I am aware that many feminists do not agree with supporting mothering
harm-reduction strategies.

I believe that harm-reduction strategies, such as enabling women to birth safely, to resist the patriarchal dissociation, (aka mind/body split, or cognitive dissonance), to avoid institutional medical rape and harm, to enable strategies for caring for children communally with other women without the fucking sperm-donors and/or State controlling their lives 24/7,  and working for mother’s rights to their children etc – is just as valuable.   Calling them ‘mindless breeders’ like patriarchy does, is akin to many left-wing liberal men’s attitudes as ‘Your choice, your problem’.  It is seeing women through the male-identified gaze, nodding along that they are mindless animals, and viewing them with contempt.  You made your bed, now lie in it.  You wanted the kid, so you deal with it.  You are on your own, sister.  It is also naive fantasy and intellectual masturbation of the highest order, to think that enabling only non-pregnancy harm-reduction strategies is a political or radical solution.  It can only ever be a personal solution.  Valuable and precious as that is, so is harm-reduction strategies for mothers.  Its not either one Or the other. Its both that are valuable as personal Survival strategies.  Because no matter how many women have genuinely benefited from it, patriarchy controls it – and it is always a tool of patriarchal power and will always be turned as a weapon of violence-against-women, and unfortunately often ‘other’ women as in India’s missing girls. 

Like all reproduction processes are on the entire planet.  In the 20th century, most of the artificial reproduction technologies began with prevention/removing pregnancy (but didn’t stop there).  Barrier methods, non-PIV sexual practices worked as well.  But they compromised male’s enjoyment of PIV, and were wholly dependent on male agreement.  Yeah, right.  If there is any universal female experience, it is that males will viciously defend their right to PIV-on-demand, by any means necessary, and there is probably SFA that women can do about it except minimise the consequences to themselves in their personal lives.  On top of which, such options are only available for small percentages of women, in primarily western so-called liberal democratic countries, and those were hard-fought to get in the first place, and take up a lot of feminist time and effort to keep.

The herstorical experience of the early decades of hormonal and IUD contraception is a bloody one of violence-against-women.  A mini-holocaust of female deaths and disability, and IUDs work as a 28-day DIY abortion kit. Can’t be good for the body.  No matter how many women benefited from it.  The news about the Pill broke in the western white middle-class women first.  By 1968, the UK medical fraternity concerned with the high death rate, the strokes, the thromboembolism in healthy young fit women, finally (took them long enough!) did some real research and found the oestrogen dose was way, way too high.  Immediately they halved the legal maximum dose in the Pill, which left big pharma with millions of unsold stock in warehouses.  Not to waste, they then dumped these stocks on third-world markets.   If such doses were killing healthy young white middle-class women, what do you imagine it did to small, undernourished, poor third-world women?

But thats ancient history now.  The men fixed it.  Eventually. They used enough female lab rats, monkeys and humans over the next decades through 2nd, 3rd and currently “4th generation” pharmaceuticals, to finally get it right, or close enough.  Side-effects are just minor irritations now.  Not statistically significant.  Women can put up with a lot to prevent pregnancy, since they can’t do much about PIV.

Then the flip side of the exact same patriarchal ethics, is in artificial-pregnancy research (if PIV, or  donor-insemination wasn’t simple enough to maintain the species?). Males control both the on, and the off, switches, for their benefit.  First I question the enormous amount of resources going into this research.  All that money in research funding, for what?  Germaine Greer quotes that global expenditure on artificial reproduction technologies, is second only to global defence spending (Sex and Destiny; The Politics of Human Fertility, 1984).  Janice Raymond in the Transsexual Empire queried why doctors who had been in the forefront of M2t surgical technology in the 1960s and 70s, moved into artificial reproduction medicine in the 1980s.

Some radfems saw the ‘writing-on-the-wall’ in the 1980s with the arrival of the first IVF babies. They looked to the future of where the technologies potentially might end up. They took their thoughts to a logical end, even if that end is still decades or centuries away.  Other feminists thought it was not important enough for feminist analysis, because it was very limited and had enormous failure rates for the first 10 years.  But each new batch of women undergoing the procedures enabled the technodocs to get better and better at it.  A lot of the experimental women died or suffered disability from their experimentation of massive hormonal assaults, and repeat cycles of IVF treatments over several years.  I’m sure they learned heaps from their mistakes during the autopsies, just like they did with the Pill.  We’ll do better next time, now we figured out where we fucked up.  Now, the rates are so successful, its all over the place and major multinational industry up there with Monsanto and Exxon.

Along with egg farming and surrogacy.  The precedent on commercial surrogacy womb prostitution was set with the infamous  Baby-M case. Along with newly formed social (and legalised) splits of biological ‘mothers’ – ie. genetic mother, the gestational mother and the social mother, all with different levels of ‘human’ and civil rights.

Men of course, can also be genetic parents, and social parents, hence these roles are socially valued accordingly, and given similar, if not equal, legal recognition. They are ‘equivalent’ and therefore ‘human’.  However, the mental gyrations that masculinist biologists had to go through to ‘reconstruct’ the process of female ovum donation to be parallel or ‘equal’ to male sperm donation is mind-boggling. Young, healthy, women sell their ova via the internet. Its said that ‘Its no different to sperm donation’.

Excuse me? When women can donate their ova via a 5-minute wank, I’ll believe that.

The risks in this process are horrendous, and the whole idea of ‘informed’ consent in making reproductive ‘choices’ is something women have rarely been allowed to have, and especially not in the egg-farming industry as explained in Eggsploitation (2011).

So men and women are ‘equal’ as genetic parents, in this social reconstruction, if you can reconstruct the ovum with sperm as equivalent pieces of biology. We can of course socially and surgically remove all the female-addons from the equation, in order to force the concept in our collective brains that they are indeed the ‘same’. Human (ie male) reconstruction of the facts of biology, physics and chemistry, in order to make it “fit” the same way male bodies function.  Every Sperm is Sacred. Ova can come along for the ride, but only if they do as they’re told.

But males can’t gestate at all, or even come close, so the gestational female is the least valued, and worse for her, she can’t be reconstructed, surgically or socially, to fit a male ie “human” biological ‘norm’. A Total Non-Human Misfit. As with lactating women, she must reconstruct herself to do it the way males can do it in order to feel ‘human-like’, or if that’s not possible, rendered invisible in purdah, or held in social and legal limbo (aka No Man’s Land), until such time as we can dispense with her altogether.

The legal ramifications are the most bizarre on pregnant women, for 9 months they are in legal limbo, ie not human, because there is no male biological counterpart. Courts scratch their heads. She doesn’t “fit”. Especially surrogates. Therefore she/it does not exist, is not human, and hence logically, no human rights, and no civil rights either.  If the sperm-donor comes forward, he has the right-to-choose, claim it or not, Law supports him either way. Recently, this has expanded to have gestational women’s names removed from birth certificates, even where they have provided the egg as well.

Then to add insult to all of this, mothers have fuck all rights to their own kids.  Under constant surveillance, not just within the family, but outside it everywhere she goes, every word she speaks.  Family law on custody, visitation and adoption have become increasingly conservative over the last 10-20 years.  “Bad mothers” hitting the headlines, to remind us of the punishment if we stray from our role.  Its the “father” who has all the rights, single mothers without a male sponsor are totally fucked.  Taking kids off mothers, the ‘Stolen Generations’ for the flimsiest of reasons has become an art-form. I’ve seen more sympathy and compassion given for our household cats, when it comes time to remove the litter – at least we usually wait for weaning with our pets babies.

Womb prostitution ( see Google Baby documentary)  is now as widespread as sex-trade trafficking.  Indeed, some are co-located.   Some trafficked women are not just fuck-toys now, but also used as ‘breeders’ for the baby trade. Some use IVF, others do the implantation the old-fashioned PIV way.  For a price.

Then there’s the “illegal” baby-farming, ( are there legal ones?) in Thailand last February, and more recently in Nigeria.

Now, I know this has been very long-winded, and I fully expect readers have long since dropped off in boredom, but I need to go to the end of my thoughts, and connect-the-dots.

Because wait – there’s More!

In tandem with all this, over the last 30-40 years is advances in related forms of technology.

Particularly:

1. Care of earlier, and earlier (and earlier) premature ‘babies’.  Improvements in  keeping very immature infants alive, which has also impacted (negatively) on abortion laws as well.

2.  Embryonic stem cell research. At first I was puzzled, when my country amongst many others in the western world were “debating” this line about diseases on one hand, and right-wing right-to-lifers about the poor fucking embryos on the other.   It doesn’t make sense, in cell biology.  Embryonic stems are lousy for cell therapy for diseases, ADULT stem cells do all that so much better, and much more successfully.   Except reproductive cell lines.  Namely, female eggs.  No usable egg stem-lines in adult females.  Duh!   Embryonic egg cell-lines is what they are really after.  You can grow human eggs from embryonic cell lines.

3.  Womb transplants. Just like 40 years ago around early IVF in the news, many feminists believe this can never be done successfully, or wont ever become a big-thing.  A passing fad. Like transgenderism.  Doesn’t stop them trying, does it? Doesn’t stop them spending unbelievably obscene amounts of money, time, effort in ‘experimenting’ and ‘recruiting’.  Like hormonal contraception, and IVF it may take many decades of experimental fuckups, or ‘setbacks’ before they get it right.

In 2009, I first heard about womb transplants and it being “just an organ like any other organ”. 
In 2011: First womb transplant planned.

First step, is transplanting from woman to woman and experimenting with managing blood supplies, hormonal levels etc, may need to take them out early – thats where pre-term delivery technology comes in.   Next step, into males (remember the M2t surgeons who made career changes into ART?). Last step, into machinery.  May take a long time, but they don’t seem to be giving up on it.

Taking thoughts to its end – connect-the-dots  – with embryonic sources of egg stem cells, female embryos still need to be conceived (in a lab), but females need never be born, let alone grow up.

I’m sort-of glad I’m getting too old for all this shit, hope I’m long gone before it becomes reality.  As for the here-and-now, and since personal solutions of harm-reduction are all I can aim for, I might toddle off to a local version of Michfest 🙂

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28 comments
  1. I loved this post, Rainsinger. I think you’ve covered everything.
    I’ve been thinking.. the Y chromozome that causes male babies is not as “whole” as the X that creates females, so it wouldn’T surprise me if a lot of miscarriages, were actually male, due to chromozomal disorders . Which brings us to premature births. I would also like to see studies on the sex ratios of premature babies… because my guess is that if boys are more likely to have chromozomal abnormalities than girls.. the entire system is set up to support males..

    No mother wants her baby to die, but it’s worth remembering that in a society where there are too many males, her daughter is more likely to be raped or murdered by a man. Are men purposely skewing the sex ratio in their favour with all this interference? THere are more men alive now compared to women than there ever has been in history (also taking into account female foeticide) .

    Men will create armies of males, billions of males, and there will be no mothers for the little girls they do decide to allow to live. they will have to navigtate their way through the dystopia of testosterone. They will be treated abominably.

  2. Oh yes, and there is not one country on the entire planet that has “mothers’ rights”. There is no such thing.

    Only “father’s rights” exist.

    Divorce courts often (rightly) give the children to the person who carried out most of the childcare, and that tends to be the mother, but that’s not a “right” . It is done “in the best interest of the children”
    . Men, such as the author Louis de Bernieres often claim to have taken on 50% of the childcare during their marriage, and attempt to take the children away from the mother during a divorce, but then it turns out these men believe 50% of the childcare = reading a bedtime story twice a week.

    It’s a sham. Mothers are the ones who risk their lives to bring the child into the world. As soon as a woman *conceives* a baby, she can kiss her career goodbye in fields (such as academia). I am really really angry at the way women are treated by this male patriarchal system.

  3. yttik said:

    Long ago I was in a class watching a film on animals and how some can spontaneously abort when there isn’t enough food or circumstances are too stressful for them to carry on a pregnancy. The film kind of implied they could just will the pregnancy away whenever they felt like it, almost like they had complete control and autonomy over their bodies. What I’ll never forget is the disgust, the anger, the hateful looks from some of the men. I couldn’t figure it out, why is everybody suddenly glaring at me like I’m evil? I didn’t kill any bear cubs! It took me years and a lot of Mary Daly to understand that many men perceive a fetus as a full human, as themselves, while the mother is simply the container that holds the power of life and death over them. They resent the hell out of this because combined with women’s innate “evilness” we have the power to completely annihilate them. There’s nothing that stands between them and death but the good graces of women. And whether or not women have any good graces is apparently highly debatable.

    Many men don’t view a uterus, a fetus, as a part of a woman’s body. In general women do and they understand that these things are a part of women’s body, like a liver. Most women don’t share this fear having their mothers kill them on a whim because they understand she’s not going to casually remove her own liver without good reason.

  4. FCM said:

    The placenta is an organ, isn’t it, but a fetus? And saying that its like a liver also isn’t exactly true (we can’t live without our liver.) I do absolutely support the position that women aren’t containers, and that fetuses aren’t “body parts” because that’s clearly (clearly!) not the case either. There are literally no words for what a fetus is, to the woman carrying it: this is because men invented the medical terminology and the legal jargon too. We need to find words to describe our reality, and that’s what this post is for me. I disagree that fetuses are organs, but its not any more wrong than what men have been saying this whole time, and if a fetus is “more like” a liver than an arm, from the perspective of one or some or many or all women who have carried fetuses, then I accept that. There’s no reason not to accept this perspective, and to use it to build a woman centered vocabulary around pregnancy. I don’t think we can combine it with misogynist medical and legal jargon though, and that’s what we are doing when we say fetuses are ORGANS aren’t we?

  5. zeph said:

    Excellent point about the amount of money that is being spent on reproductive technologies, it is the same with sadistic surgical interventions. Women need to be in charge of health spending allocations, especially resources for reproductive services. It is amazing to me that we are continually being told there is not enough money for healthcare, where is it all going? Health insurance companies whinge about paying for long term antibiotic treatments for the seriously sick. While other branches of medicine (I use the word advisedly) simply wallow in funds.

    Men should not be in charge of anything really. They make such an appalling mess of everything they touch, the environment, the economy and the lives of countless women.

  6. yttik said:

    I do view a fetus as a kind of organ, FCM, in terms of it being a part of you, like a liver, like an arm. True, you can’t live without a liver, so call it a kidney instead. You can live without a kidney, but a kidney can’t live without you. It’s an organ, completely dependent on your body to support it, indeed completely dependent on your body to give it any meaning at all. A kidney without a body is, well, pointless. It only has value as a part of somebody’s body. This is a reality of biology and reproduction, too, a fetus is nothing at all unless it is being sustained by a woman’s body. At least at the moment.

    What’s really creepy is that when we call a fetus an “organ”, suddenly people think that means it’s a commodity! I’d forgotten that we now think of things like a kidney as something you can sell. Before we assigned organs value as a commodity, they were viewed as somewhat sacred, as so valuable nobody should have any say over them but the host. To make it understood that a fetus is also a part of a woman’s body, like an organ, has been a struggle women have been engaged in for centuries. My fetus is kind of like your liver, get it boys? It belongs to me. It didn’t really occur to women that the patriarchy would one day assign property rights to other people’s organs. That’s just nuts, but here we are.

    There’s currently an add for a popular pro-biotic to help women become “regular.” It contains “our new patented formula” of your naturally occurring intestinal bacteria. Can you believe that crap? They’ve actually gone and assigned property rights to our intestinal bacteria.

  7. rainsinger said:

    Since language is Man-Made, women are often at a complete loss to describe their experiences of pregnancy, lactation or motherhood, as man-made words are often completely inadequate to describe something males cannot feel.

    It’s an organ, completely dependent on your body to support it, indeed completely dependent on your body to give it any meaning at all. A kidney without a body is, well, pointless

    LOL, yttik I *get it* in that framing. My own image was more that the uterus and its contents are an organ system. Tho I can understand that others might get icky-squick. Its because we have no language that is accurate. I remember thinking of pregnancy as a weird kind of ‘puberty’ with 3 distinct phases – the trimesters. I also remember sharing breastfeeding chat with another woman in the baby clinic, and just couldn’t find any phrasing that even came close – both of us struggled, used pet analogy, purring etc – the best I could do when I tried is “not-quite-sexual-whole-body-tingles”, but we gave up in frustration – and also using analogy of the breast as ‘organ’, the sensation of the breast “let-down” reflex is a bit disconcerting to feel for the first time – that had nothing to do with sexuality, but that was part of it, but something else as well.. OH.. No words! My friend also said whispering, “don’t tell men, or they’ll cut off our tits at puberty”. Its something they can’t have, and they sure as hell dont want us to enjoy something without them – so they make it unpleasant, painful, icky-squick. They make hospital birthing so damn traumatic, it does feel like rape. A rape trauma you can never really speak about. Another completely inadequate analogy was an indoor garden bed. Flowers or weeds in there, and they die off by themselves, or you remove them sometimes, or leave it to itself to tick over without ever being planted. I also had abortions, and had different feelings/experiences each time.

    It is also a growing/changing “organ” (for want of a better word) – which is where some of us had so many problems with men’s insistence/obsession with defining where life begins. Its irrelevant, and just doesn’t matter. Its a process, not a single event. Except to *them*, because they can’t experience the process, so they can only think of it as a single event, like the universal Big Bang – and of course, they have to make themselves the only important centre of that single event – with their sperm! Its a process that can be halted by itself, or by intervention. My home-birth midwife said to me – don’t think of birthing as an end-in-itself, think of the child-bearing year to include the first 3 months after birthing as an extra trimester of pregnancy, when the newborn is still weak and needs body-contact. Men just hate feeling excluded, some of my happiest times were with women and kids, and no men around.

    To make it understood that a fetus is also a part of a woman’s body, like an organ, has been a struggle women have been engaged in for centuries….. get it boys? It belongs to me

    Yes. Exactly. Its mine, and if it needs to be halted, or alternatively not halted, for my reasons, then leave us in peace and privacy to just do what needs to be done. *sigh* Unfortunately, they don’t see it that way.

  8. rainsinger said:

    Divorce courts often (rightly) give the children to the person who carried out most of the childcare, and that tends to be the mother, but that’s not a “right”

    We’ve had a lot of reversals in divorce laws in recent years, under a conservative government. We even have strong ‘father’s rights’ political lobby-groups with govt funding, with allied reductions in funding for women’s services, like DV shelters.

    Excellent point about the amount of money that is being spent on reproductive technologies, it is the same with sadistic surgical interventions.

    Yes, it sure pricked up my ears, as another doctor said in one of the links I mentioned – about so many resources going into infertility research, aren’t there far more important areas of health research? Infertility is not a health problem if its not causing related illness. And its not like the human species is in any danger. The arguments for IVF to get Medicare (like NHS) funding, was so similar to trans-arguments – you know? we are all going to commit suicide and have serious mental health disasters if we dont get it. Originally, in Australia, the govt ruled that IVF was elective “cosmetic” surgery and treatment, and shouldn’t be publicly funded. But they lobbied so hard, for so long. Just like trans did to ‘prove’ that it wasn’t a personal choice, but a health condition that needed treatment on the public purse.

  9. yttik,
    That is a fascinating point about the foetus-as-organ. What about the parasite analogy. Does that work? A parasite can’t survive without its host either.

    And yes, I wholeheartedly believe that women can spontaneously abort a foetus she had no desire to carry.
    Not always. Not every time, but it happens, I’m certain of it. You only have to look at morning sickness to see the extent to which human females reject the parasite growing inside them.

    I experienced hyperemesis, which is a severe kind of morning sickness, where you can’t even drink water without vomiting. YOu become extremely dehydrated and are constantly retching. After three months of that hell I considered abortion, just to have my body back. Thankfully it went away, but I often wonder whether psychosomatically, I was rejecting the “invasion”. It’s only one step from your body behaving like that to spontaneous abortion, isn’t it. And that baby was *planned* !!!

  10. Luckynkl said:

    CBL: “so it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of miscarriages, were actually male, due to chromozomal disorders.”

    According to a book a doctor gave me, 70% of miscarriages are male. Males don’t fare much better in the first year of life.

    CBL: “I would also like to see studies on the sex ratios of premature babies… because my guess is that if boys are more likely to have chromozomal abnormalities than girls.”

    Yes, males are more likely to have abnormalities, but I think premature labor may also have to do the mother’s body, maybe even more so than the fetus’s. All 4 of my children were premature, some significantly so. All 4 are female. So altho my daughters were early, there were no abnormalities and altho small, they were healthy and strong. Unless, of course, you consider having me as a mother, an abnormality. 😛 Seriously tho, my children were conceived in rape and hate and I was not a happy camper, so there’s a good possibility I may have willed it. 😛 But more likely, my body was not designed to carry a pregnancy to full-term. Not that the doctors or state gave a rat’s ass.

    Great post, Rain. Scary as hell, but well done all the same.

  11. Well done on making FOUR girls Lucky 🙂
    And thanks for answering my questions. As I said, it doesn’t surprise me.

    IN Japan there is a ceremony called Shichi Go San, which translates into 3, 5, 7. CHildren are taken to the SHintou shrine at those ages for a blessing. I recently learned that the ceremony was to celebrate the fact the children had “made it” through the perilous years of early childhood without dying.
    Girls are taken at 3, Boys at 5. So even the ancients knew that if a girl made it to 3 she was going to be okay, whereas a boy had to make it to 5 before he was in the “safe zone”

  12. Milly said:

    I read a really cool feminist book about consciousness a decade or so ago, but I can’t remember the author’s name. It was a bit academic but the basic idea really stuck with me. Our consciousness is formed through contact with an “other” and this first ” dance of consciousness” occurs in the womb, you, me, not me, you, and cannot occur without an “other”. When I had my first child I remember feeling like the whole dividing line between me and the world had just blurred, there was this baby that had been grown by my body, as part of my body and in my consciousness, as part of my consciousness, out there in the world. The world was me and I was the world. It was very trippy and the feeling went away after a while, but I ‘ll never forget it. That’s also the reason I find medical intervention in pregnancy and birth suspect, even in a radical feminist utopia a la Firestone. What sort of consciousness will humans develop in artificial wombs?

  13. rainsinger said:

    Thanks lucky 🙂
    You are spot on, the natural sex ratio among mammals, is more males than females are conceived, but more males than females die off throughout life, so adult mammal populations are designed by nature to have higher adult female to male ratios. Humans, like most mammals, were not meant to be 50:50, but closer to 65F:35M. Its called in some textbooks, the mammalian excess male strategy. Even in historical human disease epidemics more males than females die, because of weaker immune systems (statistically speaking). I sometimes find myself chuckling at this when I hear women complaining about dudes acting like they are dying when they get a cold or flu.

    That is a fascinating point about the foetus-as-organ. What about the parasite analogy. Does that work? A parasite can’t survive without its host either

    I was imaging in my post more along the lines of the uterus-as-organ, whether the organ is managing a foetus, along with placenta, or not. In its cycles, it is still doing its *thing*, just does a different *thing* during pregnancy than the rest of the time. I was just attempting to use inadequate, clumsy male-language to describe that the foetus isn’t a separate entity/identity – as our societies and male-made laws keep forcing us to think/feel, forcing an unnatural, and unneccessary dissociation. Pregnancy affects the whole woman’s body, although the womb is the obvious organ doing most of the biological work – the heart grows another 25% in size, to pump another 1-2 litres of blood volume, a large number of new blood vessels are formed around the uterus, the breasts change cellular tissue function to grow milk sacs, the lungs, the thyroid changes with new immune system functions etc… its not separated from the human experiencing the processes.
    Our Bodies are Our Selves.

    The parasite analogy, is one I remember experiencing with a teen pregnancy – I wanted it out as a ‘foreign body’ that didnt belong there. Like needing to remove a thorn from your foot. Another time, I had so much hate for the sperm-donor that was like noxious weeds, a vermin infestation – another time, hippy-trippy new-ager dawning of the age of aquarius and magical fantasy flower-power, just a day or so, after conception. I just *knew*. This one is a ‘keeper’ 🙂

    Not a PC feminist feeling I know, I know, I know, you don’t have to yell at me. But I really (really) didn’t want the sperm-donor hanging around. I didn’t want the man-baggage, just the baby. Reminded me of Germaine Greer’s thoughts about her cat having kittens, saying something along the lines of ‘ the tom-cat may have had his 5-minutes of orgasmic ecstasy, but my cat purred for the next 12 weeks straight’ . Back then, I wished that human males would just bugger off and leave us alone like the tomcats do. Unfortunately, in reality they have set the system up to make that horrendously difficult, if not impossible.

    As for parasite, organ etc… I’m not sure having a name for it, matters all that much to me in this instance – but open to suggestions, exploring, no problem with throwing up ideas, and seeing what (if anything) comes out of them, is there?

    By whatever name, I still perceive it as females only to decide about, whether its a thorn that needs to be removed from our female organs, or a ‘keeper’ in our female organs. Both perceptions (and ranging in-between) are valid and legitimate. To me, anyway. But since we can’t win that argument in the real-world ‘FatherLand’ – we need harm-reduction mechanisms, but I would still argue for supporting harm-reduction for all, not just one option. For example, I think its inconsistent for abortion to be supported, but taking on a keeper to not be supported.

  14. FCM said:

    I sometimes find myself chuckling at this when I hear women complaining about dudes acting like they are dying when they get a cold or flu.

    BAHAHAHA! oh i wish. its really no wonder is it, that men demand caretaking labor from women from cradle to grave…they would literally die without it, and they arent keen on providing it themselves…so there you go. and their sick life-support medicine, same thing. saving “life” at all costs, where women are left with all the caretaking duties for everything thats “alive” in whatever stage, or however close to death or for how long. we really are incubators arent we? for our entire lives.

  15. rainsinger said:

    That’s also the reason I find medical intervention in pregnancy and birth suspect, even in a radical feminist utopia a la Firestone.

    I never liked Firestone, but I do genuinely empathise with where she was coming from, at that time and place in history. After generations upon generations of motherhood torture, and female-body hatred, it would have felt so amazing, liberating and utopian to just get rid of it altogether. The whole marxist-feminist tradition saw female reproductive biology as the root “problem” to be solved – get rid of the sexual biology, and all the social gender politics disappears. We can only be equal when we can live just like men do, without all that “inferior” female biological crap holding us back. “Pregnancy is barbaric” is one famous Firestone quote. Like it was dinosaur-like primitive, not civilised, something only animals do.

    I’m probably a lone voice, a statistical outlier – but when I first read Firestone, I literally had chills up my spine.
    I thought it’s removing female bodies altogether. If the only way women-as-a-class can be liberated is to get rid of their female-specific biology, then you just end up with an all male population. Remove gender, by removing sex, and guess which sex gets removed? The novel by Marge Piercy – “Woman on the Edge of Time” that was based on Firestone’s work, with the genderless pronouns, and the androgynous ‘genderless’ people in the utopian wonderland. An enormous effort in technological and industrial wizardry, just to remove female biology from the species? Do women really hate *it* that much too? Hate it to such a degree, that no expense or effort, or level of technology, will be spared, to reach that goal. To me it wasn’t utopia, it was a bloody nightmare, and over the years since, Firestone became a foundational text for post-modernism. If you’ll forgive a bad pun, to me it was “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” 🙂

  16. FCM said:

    yes, its not female bodies that are the problem its the FACT that men keep sticking their dicks into us thats the problem, and then they set up their doodly patriarchal institutions to attach to our lives and bodies at the moment of conception, then they follow us for another couple of decades by legislating “motherhood” too. its a tight little package they have created, where men can control women from cradle to grave LITERALLY with their penises. how sexxxay!

  17. FCM, I was just going to say that there’s no point in the male medical machine patting themselves on the back for saving a 23 week old premature baby, when that baby ends up dealing with mental and physical difficulties for the rest of its life… and it AIN’T going to be the doctors giving up their golfing time to provide around the clock care , now is it. The buck stops with mother.

  18. Milly, I know exactly where you’re coming from, and what you’re talking about.

  19. skyflyer said:

    i LOVE you guys!! i’ve been lurking the radfem blogosphere for some time now having not got the courage/round to actual commenting, so consider this a “hello from a new radfem”. hopefully will have more constructive things to say soon. apologies for introducing myself via a comment!

    Fantastic blog entry, i have had a few radical “lightbulb” moments recently but this one really stands out. Especially this:

    “Taking thoughts to its end – connect-the-dots – with embryonic sources of egg stem cells, female embryos still need to be conceived (in a lab), but females need never be born, let alone grow up”

    Sheesh that gives me the chills. Perfect solution for the patriarchy isn’t it. Except – they will still need a few female babies being born, so they can provide the PIV for the doods! (with their awesome man-technology though, I’m sure they could find away to get rid of that pesky personality problem though, make things easier for them).

    Very interesting re. the man-made language and it’s complete failure to describe most of the things women go through. Any language that does exist is just in the context of medicine (more medicalising our bodies). And completely suppresses/ignores the idea that females might actually experience pleasure without a male involved!
    I was trying to think of a word that might describe the pleasurable physical feelings our bodies manifest which are connected to our sexuality, but are not “sexy” or “erotic” or “orgasmic” (e.g. the above mention of breastfeeding, …although i have not experienced that having never had a baby). nothing came to mind, although I liked the concept of “purring”.

    I am not a linguist, not can I speak a language other than English, but i wouldn’t hesitate to assume that this was not just an English-language problem.

  20. rainsinger said:

    Thanks skyflyer 🙂

    Very interesting re. the man-made language and it’s complete failure to describe most of the things women go through.

    *nodding* – at best, it can only ever be a rough approximation.
    I’ve also written more about this language ‘problem’ elsewhere re sexuality at:
    http://rainsinger.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/sex-and-destiny-sexuality/

  21. tiptree2 (vliet) said:

    Thanks, Rainsinger, for having the clarity of thought to lay all this out. It is very hard not to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of all this. I have had one spontaneous miscarriage, one live birth, and two abortions. The live birth was awful. I was taking too long and received an od of oxytocin in order to deliver by the time the doctor got off shift. Of course, I had gone through the natural birth classes, and arranged for a female obstetrician, and gone to her throughout my pregnancy, but 2 days before I delivered, she did! And I got a cold impersonal, I would even say hostile, male stranger at the last moment.

    The abortions were because my partner and I were penniless and had no way to raise the child. The miscarriage was weird; I didn’t know I was pregnant, and spent about 4 hours messing up the bathroom of a hyperclean condo for rent my mother and an agent were looking at. But I knew what it must be and except for the embarrassing circumstances it was painless. Afterwards I went to a male doctor for a checkup and found the strength to refuse a D&C, which was totally unnecessary but recommended prophylactically.

    Anyway, as with some other issues, I read this blog and start seeing other points of view that are likely to be more valid than mine. I’m talking about the notion of keeping our female bodies in the future by preventing outside gestation of fetuses. I have always been in favor of outside gestation, because I thought it would lift a “burden”. Women will always need to be pregnant and care for babies, the male argument goes, so they are “by nature” disabled a lot of the time. Outside gestation would have a liberating effect on the scale of birth control, BUT, I hadn’t considered that it would take away “women” as a class. Wow! So the result would be turning us all into men. That’s not the goal!

    But how do we prevent “outside gestation”? And what would be the effects? Some of the comments above talk about men only reproducing men with a few women. We also have to consider: our value, besides for sex, in this world historically has been that they had to keep us healthy and alive to bear children. They won’t need to do that anymore. The predicament of women is likely to get far, far worse when they no longer are the only way for the race to reproduce.

    It’s going to happen, I believe. A womb has just this year been transplanted for the first time. Soon the first transplant into a male will happen, and outside wombs. It could happen within ten years, I think, based on reading articles in magazines like New Scientist, which is linked to above in the discussion.

    Outside wombs will put control of reproduction entirely into the patriarchy’s hands. Now what? I guess I’m thinking, it could mean our extinction, not our liberation.

    How to prevent this? Well, as an ex-lawyer I’d say let’s get ta work on some laws. Maybe we can slip something in before they notice. However, I just realized to my horror that they are way ahead of us. One of the interesting things about law is that a precedent ion one issue can be applied stunningly to another issue. I just read the book, “The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks”. For important scientific reasons, the scientific/corporate community has gone to court in the US and successfully established that OUR CELLS DON”T BELONG TO US. The wart that gets cut off at the dr’s office, isn’t ours the minute it is physically separated from our body! Not to bore everyone, but in those cases, involving development of human cell-lines, a few cells were taken without the patient’s consent and turned out to have incredible benefits for medical science. The thing is, I see how those court cases could be applied to women suing to have rights to fetuses that are no longer in their bodies. There are no rights to “tissues” removed from us in the US. I’m not aware of anybody else making this connection yet.

    The rapid advances in genetic engineering bring me back to my personal plan for the species, which I apologize for harping on, but which I continue to believe is the only solution: genetically engineer male fetuses to produce “normal”, i.e. female, amounts of testosterone, surreptitiously, by administering a virus vector to privately-consenting pregnant women. If 10% of pregnant women agree, the change will enter the gene pool and cause universal permanent change within a generation.

    Imagine working on these problems with men who are not crazed by domination/sadistic/violent tendencies. Too much testosterone is a pathology. If we don’t do this, the future looks like a complete triumph of misogny to me. If we do, we’ll have solved the problem.

  22. rainsinger said:

    I have always been in favor of outside gestation, because I thought it would lift a “burden”. Women will always need to be pregnant and care for babies, the male argument goes, so they are “by nature” disabled a lot of the time.

    Disabled by whose standards? A “burden” by whose standards? Ideally, its society that needs to change to incorporate the needs of half of the Human Condition. We make social accommodations for our sick, our disabled, we make accomodations for children’s needs which are different to most adults, and so forth. I’m not so concerned with ‘solutions’ yet, as I’m probaly still working through re-framing the ‘problem’ 🙂 But harm-reduction in promoting support for mothers to take up options that avoid or minimise male control and interference with it, would be a start.

  23. Our cells don’t belong to us? sheesh that’s news to me, I’m in the UK but i’m sure we will not be far behind…

    “I have always been in favor of outside gestation, because I thought it would lift a “burden”. Women will always need to be pregnant and care for babies, the male argument goes, so they are “by nature” disabled a lot of the time.”

    I have to admit that when I was a child, about 5 years old and my mum had my sister, I expected/hoped that by the time I was the age to have a baby, (i.e. over 20 years in the future!) women wouldn’t need to be pregnant themselves if they didn’t want to, and scientists would have invented an artificial womb to grown our baby for us instead! I used to tell my mum I’d have one of them for my baby as I didn’t want to be uncomfortable carrying a baby or go through the pain of birth! She laughed, but for years I was convinced that scientists would invent them and I could have a baby the “easy” way.
    Oh, the naivety.
    Those wombs will be invented, but not for women’s conveniences, instead for female annihilation.

    “Disabled by whose standards”
    Agreed.

    PS I am skyflyer above, but didn’t have a wordpress account set up yet 😦

  24. artemix said:

    Its a potential life should the woman decide to bring it to term. That’s what it is. It is dependent on the woman to develop and become life and if she decides not to do that it was a potential life.

  25. The Masked Lily said:

    I’ve heard that it’s not uncommon for women who donate ova to become seriously ill or even die after donating, because it’s so traumatic to the female body. Nothing at all like wanking into a cup. It’s really sad, I’ve read about at least one college student who donated ova to help pay her tuition and died shortly afterwards. 😐

    of course our female organs are alien to men. yet another reason why M2T are most definitely not female. I have a good laugh whenever they say they wish they could menstruate though. I get the feeling that they think they could handle cramps better than we do. that it’s only minor pain and females are sissies. Someone needs to make a cramp simulator so they can know what it feels like when the strongest muscle in the human body decides to squeeze out your insides.

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