26 thoughts on “Week 8 Blog: Reproduction and the Body Politic

  1. Liz

    The stigma of not being able to having a child or not having a child out of choice seems to be more apparent in current society. There are many different infertility treatments that are more publicized than they were in past decades.
    In the article “Infertile Bodies,” many of the women quoted spoke of how infertility was a disruption in their lives and often caused resentment towards their partner or other women. Often the women also believed that failure to have children was a failure of the body and self. Although some of women often had negative beliefs about themselves not being able to conceive, I was encouraged by the fact that they took control in their doctor-patient relationship.
    Many of the women sounded almost hopeless in the beginning of the article. Their infertility made them feel useless and responsible for their infertile bodies. Although the women in the article had no direct control over their bodies’ fertility, I admired the control that they asserted when interacting with physicians. The doctor-patient relationship can sometimes be very one sided. Many of these women mentioned that by being active in the doctor-patient relationship, they were usually not in agreement with their doctors. The women were able to use their knowledge gained through research to receive the exact treatment they wanted. I believe that more individuals, especially women need to be more in control of their own treatment. In many situations, it can be difficult to discuss personal care with a doctor. These women were effective in receiving the kind of care they expected due to their prior knowledge of possible techniques and procedures. I find it very helpful to know something about my symptoms when I visit the doctor. It also gives me a better idea of why they are providing the treatment or medications that they are providing. Knowledge of medical care is very important. It was very valuable in the treatment that the women received.

  2. Lilly

    Infertility can be as painfully isolating for some people as we watch many couples around us create families with ease. Infertility occurs if a couple is trying to have a baby for quite awhile (nearly 12months) and have been unsuccessful. Most people with fertility issues find that they deal with a rollercoaster of emotions each month, particularly is women. Fertility issues can also put a great deal of stress on the relationship and can break couples apart. In my cultures, infertility is seen as a personal failing, or even a curse, a woman who can’t conceive may face devastating ostracism. It’s funny how a woman always gets the blame of not getting pregnant. Why don’t people understand that it takes two people to produce a young one, but still it is always a woman’s fault? The article talks about how,” it is the woman who is the focus of most infertility treatment, even if the woman’s partner has a low sperm count, it is her body that is the focus of InVitro fertilization or any other treatments”. It is very difficult for people in the United States to deal with [infertility], and yet, when you go to other cultures, it’s even more devastating to people. In today’s world, there are many types of fertility treatments for those who are having difficulty conceiving a child, and then there were in the past years. In the article “Infertile Bodies” I have learned that many women explained their situation how it was very devastated for them and their partners to accept the fact that they can never have a child. The heavy emotions of not having a child were processed in their minds through guilt and negative beliefs. It was very encouraging to see how these women took control towards their bodies and also in the OBYN- patient relationship. The first few paragraphs of the article was very depressing when I read how these women were some hopeless and were blaming themselves and their bodies for the reason of infertility. It was just amazing to see the focus and control they showed the doctors which I think was a plus point towards their self-confidence. Many women felt comfortable with their (patient-doctor) relationship and were able to employ their knowledge confidently towards the treatment they wanted. It always makes me happy when I see or read women taking control over their lives, whether it’s for treatment or their daily life in general. When these women discussed their treatment plans they were valued with the kind of care they had expected because of the prior knowledge they had gained via research. I believe it’s always good to know the symptoms your body shows, as we all react differently to medications.

  3. lolo

    When discussing another nation’s policies and women’s perspectives about women’s bodies, it’s difficult to keep in mind cultural relativism and not apply your own personal U.S. feminist perspective unilaterally. A commonly used example of this is women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Many feminists are outraged that women live in a quasi-apartheid system. Although I definitely agree with these views, it’s important to not use feminist goals as an excuse for hegemonic policies or ideals. I do agree it’s necessary to be globally aware of an issue in order to know the context of one’s own work, but it might take away from research or work domestically. It’s all too easy to fall into the old “at least it’s not as bad as in [insert 3rd world country here].” In “Hijacking Global Feminism..” the author concludes with a sort of moral to the story: Throughout the article, she described “the complex ways in which conservative
    forces can appropriate feminist discourses disseminated in global (and national) arenas and even manipulate feminists themselves.” I find this point is incredibly useful in the context of the United States, not in regards to the Catholic Church per se, but the religious right. In the United States, the religious right has used “science” in an attempt to prove that reproductive freedom is detrimental to women’s health. Through their own brand of “science” they have found what they believe to be a link between abortion and breast cancer, or the presence of “Post-Abortion Syndrome”—similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It’s interesting because the religious right has used science, a common weapon in the reproductive justice arsenal. Scientific rhetoric has been used by proponents of reproductive rights when referring to “fetuses” instead of “babies” if a birth has not yet occurred. It would be interesting to take this idea further to see whether there are additional examples of how conservatives in the United States specifically have used feminist perspectives to further their causes.

  4. Blush

    The “Social Viagra” article by Elizabeth Krause and Milena Marchesi showed how government continues to attempt to manipulate and control women’s bodies through their fertility. In Italy, native Italian women are greatly encouraged to reproduce and are rewarded when they do through financial incentives and government approval. At the same time, it seems the Italian government only wants native Italian babies to be born to “replenish Italy” while immigration is seen as a much less than ideal method of raising the Italian population. This reminds me a lot of the stratified reproduction that is so easily observable in the U.S. White, middle-class, heterosexual women are encouraged to reproduce and are revered when they do while lower-class, non-white, and non-heterosexual women are almost never encouraged to reproduce and are commonly viewed by the media only as “burdens on the nation”. While Italy wants to stay all-Italian, I think American culture tends to want to basically stay white, middle or upper-class, and heterosexual.

    At the same time, I thought it seemed that the Italian policymakers viewed women’s fertility as something they can manipulate and threaten into doing whatever the government wants it to. The pronatalists and the Antinatalists both ultimately seek to control women’s bodies when in fact they simply do not have the right to this kind of control! Why should a government get to decide whether a woman should conceive or whether she should be able to obtain help conceiving if she wishes to? This is a common theme that I observe: women are very often being manipulated, whether through encouragement to reproduce, discouragement to reproduce or through contradictory media images that tell us to be sexy and pleasing to men, but at the same time virginal and submissive. The contradictions that women face every day are harmful and ultimately oppressive; I think Italy and other countries that practice the same controlling habits only perpetuate these oppressions.

    I was very moved by the “Infertile Bodies” article. In terms of issues of reproduction, including infertility issues, I think it is important to realize that it is indeed the woman’s body that is affected and, subsequently, it is also the woman’s sense of self and identity that is almost always blamed, judged, and shamed, whether she decides to have an abortion, to carry to term an unplanned pregnancy, or to seek help to conceive a child.

    I also especially appreciated the words of one of the women in the article, Lois, who candidly spoke of feeling a loss of dignity and of feeling like a car being worked on. This imagery was disturbing because it suggested a dehumanization of women who are “worked on” and I think this imagery can be used to describe not just women who are undergoing fertility treatments, but also especially to describe women who have had abortions. Indeed there is a sense of being powerless, being confused, and never feeling as though you know exactly what is happening to your own body.

    And through all the anxiety of fertility treatments, the women who undergo them often feel useless, broken, and powerless- like a machine being “fixed”. It is sad and unfortunate that a woman’s worth is so often determined by matters concerning her fertility.

  5. Nemo

    At first the prevailing themes of the Fertility Politics as “Social Viagra”: Reproducing Boundaries, Social Cohesion, and Modernity in Italy article did not seem to make sense as they all contradict each other; the wants of the people versus the “needs “ of the country,social cohesion, the pronatal and the antinatal agenda and in a more prevailing way the issue of modernity and backwardness of Italian society. The modernity and backwardness issue was hard to comprehend. Thinking of this though from an outside view to try to understand these attitudes, why would Italians see themselves as backwards? To me Italy represents modernity; in style and fashion and food, history and art and what the Italians seem to label their backwardness (which I don’t see as backwardness) as tradition in what I perceived their family values and family structure. The concept of “Social Viagra” seems to support this idea of the Italians call backwardness as the government calls for more Italian babies. It seems as though the Italian population disagree with the fertility laws and do see large families as a hindrance to modernity whereas the government takes an opposite stance. The story of the lady who was having her third child demonstrated the public attitude yet the government was able to pass the “Baby-Bonus Law” and oppose immigration. The statement by the Economic Minister Guilio Tremonti, “I have nothing against couscous, but I really favor pesto” really sums up the attitude well. The new law stratifies reproduction in a way that the Baby-Bonus failed to fully do as it was eligible to all EU citizens. The new law limiting fertility treatments to the “proper Italian family” openly demonstrates a bias carried on the back of what the government calls “Social Cohesion”. I am not sure what that means. There is obviously a difference in opinions and people are opposing the new laws, although it appears they are not attracting the attention of the EU. It will be great to hear Elizabeth Krause speak about this research.

  6. Finkle

    It is very disturbing for me to read about the use of women in order to achieve economic development especially because most often than not, these women do not benefit from the touted economic development. It was interesting to read that these economic development objectives were initially supported by feminist scholars. I guess because they seemed like a good idea and in line with the feminist agenda but in retrospect we understand otherwise. It reminded me of the discussion we had in class surrounding birth control and how even though is great for women that would not like to conceive can also be used to impede women’s reproduction . If a development objective is touted as an equity or antipoverty strategy, I too would be on board. As with everything else, we have to learn to read the fine print because the devil is surely in the details. Population control alone will not promote development of equity especially if the organizations promoting this do not invest in issues such as education for women in low income countries. I had never read about reproductive health discussed as “that people are able to have a satisfying sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. In the health literature I have read, the idea of a satisfying sex life for women as part of reproductive health is usually absent or not considered.
    The article on infertile bodies highlighted a woman’s plight. I think the quote “regardless of which partner in an infertile couples is ultimately discovered to have the biological problem, it is the woman who fails to become pregnant” summarized for me, the pressures placed on women in virtually any society today. On a personal note, my sister has had a very hard time conceiving and I am constantly disgusted by comments made by her colleagues and some family members making her feel less of a woman. Not once has her husband’s health been questioned by her neither gynecologist nor family members. The assumption is that the problem lies with her.

  7. Daisy

    The article, “Infertile Bodies” highlighted women who are unable to conceive chhildren and how they are viewed by their surrounding social groups. In the beginning of this article, the women seemed to be shown as helpless against the condition and often felt discouraged by people who were making them feel as if they could do something about it.

    In today’s society it has become widley accepted and encouraged for people to have children in many different ways. Some examples of that include surrogacy, adoption, sperm donation and many more. It allows for women to have more control over their own destinies. Infertile women, as discussed in the article, are often blamed by their partners which causes a sense of resentment. It also talked about how women often take an active role with their doctors in discussing treatment or alternate forms of having children, which I think is very hopeful because it shows that society is progressing and that women are taking control over their own bodies without shame. Womens bodies are often thought of as machines and when that machine is broken, the women often loose a sense of self and think that they are in some ways damaged. These women, however, accept that they are not like others and try their hardest to negociate new situations and find out what would work best for them. They are proud to stand up and fight for their right to have children, even if it is in unconventional ways.

  8. Woo

    There are a couple of themes that I see continually addressed throughout the readings with I would like to speak about. These include the idea of women “embodying” reproduction as well as root issues that support differing arguments of value of motherhood and reproduction.

    Notions of embodiment stem from the symbolic nature of women’s bodies discussed in Mostov’s article. I find the idea of embodiment striking. Embodiment is a relatively well-accepted idea however, when one steps back for a moment, it is far from a “truth.” When women are seen as being able to “embody” reproduction, the giving of life, fertility, population production etc, they become targets of state policies and debates. I find the notion of women being able to be described and defined in such specific forms troublesome. More specifically I find the distinct roles and assumptions that we give to men and women further perpetuates the value arguments we have looked at. We must question the extent to which embodiment is “reality.” I see this embodiment of reproduction in women as a root to many of the issues we have seen. Why are issues of reproduction considered predominantly female issues? I am interested to read more or have other’s views on how, when, and why women are considered to embody notions of reproduction. Where did this embodiment start? I am not attempting to say that since I don’t believe that the embodiment of reproduction is justified I don’t believe that the issue is “real.” For even if something is labeled as a social construct, such as I believe the embodiment of reproduction in women should be, that does not alleviate the issue. Eg. Race is considered a social construction however that does not make race nor racism any less real or any less of an issue. I do believe that we should reconsider the root causes of many of the issues we are reading about. The valuation of motherhood stems from the preconceived and accepted notions that women solely control reproduction and are the holders of population control. This assumption is incorrect because it is too reduced in its view. A simple understanding of biology or a look at the politics that surround homosexual couples reproduction challenges the notion that women are the only factors in reproductive politics.

    On another note, I found the Krause and Marchesi article particular interesting because the politics surround fertility and reproduction were seen in reverse from all of the other examples we have had. As is suggested “overpopulation is frequently blamed for underdevelopment” however, in the Italian context “underpopulation” is seen as the problem. This turn of tables suggests that we need to be careful in what we designate as “truths.” Self proclaimed “truths” are asserted on both sides of the population argument. “Modernity” has been used to justify policies that decrease reproduction as well as policies that promote reproduction. Therefore, I strongly question the extent to which these “truths” really are “truths”. I see these contrasting arguments and the assertion of “truths” as more telling of the persistent paradigms in a society of interest than realities that exist.

  9. Love

    Infertility. People believe it to be many things. Some look at is as a blessing others look at it as a curse. Those who do not want children thing it is great, because then they do not have to feel like they need to reproduce and do what other people want. These usually are people who do not want to have children. Others who want to have children, but cannot reproduce, think it is a curse and that their body or that they are damaged.

    Infertility, really depends on person to person. Men and women, both play an important role and both can be infertile. Women are made to think that their sole purpose in this world is to reproduce and instead, if they do not want to have children and they want to work or all they want to do is travel or whatever their reason may be, they are looked down upon, because they have been given the gift to give back life! Therefore a woman that does not want to procreate but is fertile, is usually thought of as someone who is ungrateful. When really, just because one is a woman, does not mean that they need to reproduce.

    Those who cannot reproduce or choose not to reproduce can always adopt. Some people believe their is a reason for them being infertile. That maybe that was a sign that we do not need more children in this world, because there are so many that are waiting to be accepted into a new home. Some think that it is because they would not be a good parent and others just think that they failed at taking care of themselves and this is their way of being punished.

    Infertility, is a topic that will always be controversial and one that will always make each individual feel a certain way about it. “The simultaneously biological, person, and social drama of infertility is played out in the woman’s body. Regardless of which partner in an infertile couple is ultimately discovered to have the biological ‘problem,’ it is the woman who fails to become pregnant” (page 101, Balen).

  10. cupcake

    As the articles from this week clearly demonstrated, there are many heated debates surrounding women and their reproductive rights, especially in the international field. I find it is important to work towards equality among all women in all societies, but we must not forget about the issues right here in the United States. It amazes me in a society of such human and social development that infertility is causing such grief and distress. While it is an emotional time, it should not be a source of blame or anger.

    I truly felt for the women in “Infertile Bodies”. Although I have never gone through the same experiences, I could feel their pain. Our society focuses so much on motherhood. Growing up, little girls play house and pretend to have families and raise children. There was even a pregnant Barbie at one point. Even though girls learn they can be anything they want to be, many want to be mothers at some point – it’s what they know. Almost everyone grew up around mothers – our own, our friends’ etc. When something you have known your whole entire life has been disrupted and terminated, how else could you possibly feel? This is a time for therapy, recuperation, and support – not anger and blame.

  11. Arewa

    It’s funny, lately we’ve been reading about different cultures and different families within those cultures who face the biggest problem of having too many children. But, I like the transition we made reading about infertility. We almost never hear about the large number of couples who badly want children and just can’t produce them.
    A friend of mine has a condition that causes her to be unable to have children. Not being able to have children is someone that is very sensitive, not only to women but also to the men who are in the relationship. Couples are always under pressure when it comes to society. Usually after a couple gets married, they start a family. When couples are unable to start this family, it is hard for them to look at other families around them.
    People automatically blame the woman or think that she’s the problem. But as always there two sides to a story. A man can also be infertile. There are ways to treat infertility, but these treatments can be costly or even an issue with how successful they are. For the male, the treatment would be intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg and for a female, the treatment would be in vitro fertilization. An easier alternative would be adoption. But I know some religions or cultures may not accept this. For example, Muslim are not allowed to adopt a child unless the child keeps his/her last name and is not given any of the family inheritance.
    In the article, “Infertile Bodies”, it was interesting to read that some women refer to their bodies as machines. This is something I did not know and is something I can agree with. If a machine is broken there are times where you can fix it or would have to replace it. With our bodies if something isn’t working we tend to get it fixed by going to the doctors or performing surgery to replace it. It’s a good comparison.

  12. faves06

    I found the article on Social Viagra particularly interesting. Most of the articles we read are about restricting fertility and overpopulation but this was different. It was interesting to read about how Italians are seen as being behind most other countries because they delay work, moving out, education, and starting a family. I thought that that is a stereotypical view of Italians, especially living at home until they are much older but to hear it is true intrigues me.

    I think it is absurd that they would go as far as to outlaw contraception. If a couple is in the position to have a child, then perhaps a bonus of 1000 euros would persuade them to conceive but that 1000 euros won’t be enough to raise a child. Therefore, constructing stratified reproduction. It pushes those who can afford to have children to. But if contraception is outlaw and lower class couples conceive, who will pay for that child? It creates a dependence on governmental support.

    I don’t think the United States would have a problem with low fertility right now since it seems that everyone is having children, especially at earlier ages than in previous years. It’s interesting to compare problems in other countries to problems within our own. Its unfortunate that the government can have so much control over people’s reproductions and it is unfair to limit ones, such as by sterilization.

  13. Mufasa

    In the article “Infertile Bodies” I got to learn what a woman has to go through when they find out they can’t conceive a child. It’s truly heartbreaking and the most devastating situation because infertility can cause many problems in a couple’s relationship. In many societies husbands end up leaving their wives when they find out about infertility. It’s always a woman who gets blamed for everything, nobody pinpoint any problems in men. Women who are unable to conceive are often viewed very different in their social groups, especially where majority of people are uneducated. When I was reading this article, I found it very sad how women were shown very hopeless against this heartbreaking condition and were often felt discouraged by the people around them. It was nearly a torture for them to hear about their infertility. I remember in the beginning of the article it was mentioned by the author that nobody would ever ask the guy if there is any treatment he should receive. There was no sperm count done for the men, so basically the women were always forced to get any sort of fertility treatment. If we take a close look at today’s society, there has been a lot changes and encouragement provided for couples to have children in many different ways. Couple can go through counseling for other options, that it finding out ways to adopt a child, surrogacy, sperm or egg donation, InVitro etc. All these available opportunities give woman access to take control over their lives and emotions, because most of the times women go into depression when they get blamed by their partners for not giving them children. The article also talked about that in today’s modern society where people have access to all the modern technology, women have taken a charge and they have been actively engaged with their doctors in discussing treatments or other ways of having children. I think it a plus point for women to get stronger and accept themselves for who they are instead of hating or blaming their bodies.

  14. Mew

    The article Infertile Bodies discusses the negative stigma portrayed on infertile women (even those with infertile partners) and the positive advances many of these women have made to regain agency over their health and (infertile) bodies. However, this article focuses solely on educated, middle-class, and seemingly all white women, and I am left wondering about infertile women’s experience in a lower socioeconomic class.

    This article brings up a recurring theme of “motherhood as an essential component of womanhood” (105). Many of the infertile women express feelings of abnormality and “uselessness” because they are incapable of reproducing. Such language reflects a cultural ideal of the “normal life course for women” (107) in which becoming a mother is a “natural” component of being/becoming a woman. This language may also reflect cultural standards of motherhood and womanhood as being white, educated, middle-class women. Perhaps the infertile women in this article feel more like failures because they are more pressured to become mothers and are valued as “fitter” mothers in society. It would be interesting to observe whether a similar pressure to become a mother and similar debilitating language is used among lower socioeconomic, infertile women.

    The idea of “fit” versus “unfit” mothers relates to the amount of agency a woman possesses over her fertility. In the article, it explains how white middle-class women in the U.S. have extensive control over their fertility particularly in terms of the number of children they want and in planning the spacing between these children (109). The infertile women discussed in the article, however, were “demoralized when they realized that birth is not as controllable as they had thought” (109). Again, I am left questioning how women with less control over their reproduction due to social inequalities and coercion deal with issues of infertility. The middle-class, educated women in the article were able to be “contractors of their own health care” (111), taking control of their reproduction particularly through self-conducted research. Yet, what about women who cannot access these educational tools or even those who cannot access appropriate health care? This article is very interesting when looking at a particularly valued group of women/potential mothers, but I would be very interested in hearing more about different groups of women’s experiences with infertility in our society.

  15. Hot Chocolate

    I was particularly interested in this week’s topic of infertility as I did not know much about the subject matter and was fascinated to learn from a women’s point of view. In the article “Infertile Bodies,” the author, Arthur Geril, shares detailed conversations and opinions on the interviews conducted with twenty-two married, infertile couples, all of which were well off and had access to medical care and other resources. Some women described infertility as a failure of the body, as if it was a machine and it malfunctioned and needed to be fixed. To me this sounded almost robotic. These women made a distinction between their failed bodies and themselves. On the other hand, other women did not make this distinction and saw their defective bodies “not as something they have, but as something they are.” I felt very sad for these women and thought it was unfair for them to have to go through with this experience and have them feel like they failed their bodies and themselves. I feel sympathy for them as they cannot fully take part in motherhood as other women can. Some women describe their bodies as property they have cared for and in return they received nothing from. These women were careful of what they ate, exercised, and avoided drinking and smoking. At first this article was heartbreaking to read, but towards the end I was very impressed. These women responded to the loss of control, mortification and impersonality with strength, involvement, and curiosity. They actively learned as much as they could about the medical system and the treatments in detail and made sure to have a good patient-doctor relationship. If that wasn’t the case, then they would switch to another doctor to get their questions answered. They had control over themselves and their treatment process.
    After reading “Infertile Bodies,” I was stunned to come across the imagery portrayed of women’s bodies in “Our Women, Their Women.” In Croatia, women are seen as biological reproducers of group members and they have a responsibility to bear sons to defend the land and daughters to take care of the land. Women who do not bear at least four children are looked down upon. Women are seen as nurturers of the nation and they have specific roles in their families. I think it is an honor to have such an appreciative role and such a different culture, however I do not agree with some of the ideology created by the men about the women and the rules they must obey, and if they do not they will be punished. This article is similar, yet different to “Infertile Bodies.” In “Infertile Bodies,” women thought of their own bodies as properties. However, in Bosnia, women are seen as property of their fathers, husbands, brothers and their nation’s. For example, raping a woman of another nation would be a “violation of territorial integrity” for that woman’s husband. Men who cannot protect their women have failed to protect their territory. I thought it was very interesting to read two very different perspectives from two nations with such dissimilar cultures, values and ideology.

  16. pinkis123

    I found the article entitled Fertility Politics as “Social Viagra”: Reproducing
    Boundaries, Social Cohesion, and Modernity in Italy, by by Elizabeth Krause and Milena Marchesi, very interesting to read, as it was quite different from what I have learned about reproduction and birthrates, and therefore it was surprising and unexpected. We have been taught and read about population control in the United States, how it is thought to be over crowded here and the birthrate should be decreasing for the economy and the country as a whole. However, after taking this course and reading specific articles, I do not exactly agree with that, but I would say that is them majority of what is being taught for this country. Italy, on the other hand, has completely different views and opinions of children and birthrates, according to this article. They believe that basically the more children, the better, because they are the future of their country and world, and that “Raising the birthrate is a necessary condition for reestablishing in our country a framework of generational renewal consistent with the preservation of social cohesion and economic development,” according to Italian White Paper. Despite opposite views of Americans, this article still manages to portray how the government in Italy tries to control women and their bodies in terms of fertility. Instead of being told you are only allowed a specific number of babies, such as in China, Italian women are encouraged to reproduce as much as they can to create a large family, and they are looked highly upon if they have many children. I think that it is sick that no matter where you go or however the values and beliefs may change, the idea of controlling women and their childbearing ability never seems to change. This concept of manipulation disturbs me, and I think that having a baby should be completely up to the mother, and perhaps the father, with no pressure from the outside world, especially from the government, as it is a very personal and special experience.

  17. Boston

    The article “Infertile Bodies” displayed the hopelessness that some women feel from being infertile. It is unfortunate that infertility is such a common problem in todays society. We have several ways of helping the infertile women but none are guaranteed to work. These women view themselves as broken machines and unfit to be mothers. Many of the women blame themselves although it is out of their control. Infertility is a very touchy subject for women because most of them have planned their families since they were little girls and once they decided to begin a family and when they were unable to conceive they became devastated. I found it interesting that some women that were interviewed in the article separated themselves from their bodies. Instead of blaming themselves they would say that their bodies were “lousy packages” or that they didn’t work. Infertility is something that is out of a womens control so it is very healthy for them to talk like this about their body and not themselves. It is unfortunate that the doctors do not have a more personal relationship with these women in order to talk over their options. The women are very emotional already and for them to go into a doctors office to get help they should not feel like the doctor is acting cold to them. One woman said she felt like a test specimen because she was being poked and prodded. Another women said that she felt she lost her dignity through the process. Infertility is an unfortunate reality for many women, efforts should be made to help them out and also to make them feel better and to cope with it.

  18. ILoveBueno

    In the reading about “Infertile Bodies” I was very interested in the metaphoric worlds that the author says the women with fertility problems live in. The Body as an Emblem of the Self seems to be a common metaphor which women use to describe themselves. Even stepping away from a reproductive standpoint women view their body as a physical extension of their inner selves. For example women internalize feelings of being fat or ugly to mean they shouldn’t have self-worth. The author also talks about the Body as a Machine and how infertile women often view their bodies as pieces which can break down and affect the whole. Both of these metaphors are culturally created in the United States.

    The one question I was left with after reading “Infertile Bodies” was how do women who are not white and middle class experience infertility? In the packet Greil talks about how these women “grew up believing that the human reproductive process is readily subject to human control”. However we’ve learned about women like the women in Puerto Rico with sterilization and women in the United States with Depo Provera who were made to believe they didn’t and shouldn’t have any control over their own reproduction. Therefore if these women are infertile (and not because a doctor performed surgery on them) how do they respond? I think that would make for a much more interesting reading, because it seems like in the news we always hear about rich, white people adopting babies or going through IVF and about how we should feel bad for them.

    This article does put a different spin however on the idea of feeling bad for these women. It implies that they try to take control of certain aspects of their fertility like reading up on things or taking charge over their husbands. This seems more heroic than sad.

  19. Smile

    The article “Infertile bodies” was so interesting to me because I had a very close family friend who was going through a similar situation. It is a very hard thing for a woman to go through especially in other countries because you are looked at in a very different light if you find that a woman is infertile. Much of the blame will be put on the women more than the men. As I was reading the article I notice one woman who said that she sees herself separate from her body, that she doesn’t resent herself but she was left with a lousy package. I noticed after my family friend found out that she was infertile she was very depressed and it took a toll on her marriage. She felt like everything was going wrong in her life and she would constantly go to the doctors and pray and hope that she can get pregnant. Not only that in our culture women who are infertile are looked down upon and are sometimes seen as less than a women and that they were cursed with this infertility due to something that they did. As the reading has mentioned about the notion of the body as the emblem of the self stating that “we are praised for their virtues and blamed for their failures” very much like how my friend was feeling at the time. That her body has failed her to be the mother that she as always wanted to me and with that she feels that she as failed as a person that she is unable to produce. People put so much emphasis on the women being infertile and barely on the men. It goes both ways, men and women can be infertile but in our society we never look at that as the case to the problem. Women are always the main focus when it comes to reproduction which is understandable at times however when we are unable to reproduce it is worse off for the woman than it would ever be for the men. It was also good to look at how the women in this article took control of their situation and had strong doctor-patient relationship. This can also be an empowering tool even when the women may feel like all hope is gone due to the fact that she believes she’s a failure due to that fact that she cannot reproduce. It is important women not to feel that they have failed and that there are alternative ways to every situation.

  20. TEASE

    Naturally, women are the biological producers of life. However, like many things in this world, there are complications that come with bearing a child. In the article, “Infertile Bodies”, these implications are portrayed through interviews of infertile women. You can feel the self pity and sadness they feel for themselves and the anger they feel for their bodies. As helpless as they seem, these women actually take full advantage of the available sources to educate themselves and work with their doctors to correct their infertility.

    If I were to put myself into any of these women’s shoes, I would be terribly devastated. However, I would always have hope and look for other alternatives to have a child. My aunt is infertile but she has her head up high and is in the process of adopting a child. I think many women should look into adoption instead of beating themselves up because their bodies aren’t “working”.

    Putting their negativity aside, I am very inspired by the women that take matters into their own hands. They researched for themselves the treatments of infertility and spoke to their doctors about their readings. I feel that this is a very healthy relationship between patient and doctor because questions are asked and answered and both parties have equal opinions. Personally, I am very comfortable with my doctor. I ask questions because I am scared but they always help to ease the fear and confusion.

    Overall, I believe infertile women should be grateful for the life that they have been given and keep having hope that one day they will be able to give life or even consider an opportunity to save a life through adoption.

  21. Pearls

    In this week’s reading I found the article by Arthur Greil on Infertile Bodies most interesting. I thought that it was interesting to see how the women viewed themselves, and how they viewed the situation that they were in. There is a difference in the way that societies view having children. Many of the women that were interviewed said that they felt like they were some sort of machine that the doctors are experimenting with. The journey of having children is supposed to be a magical one between men and women, but for those women that are not able to conceive children naturally, it has become more of a hassle. This unfortunate problem has made some women resent themselves and or their bodies. Few women resent their bodies, but they do not resent themselves. This shows that they are strong and that they know it is not their fault as to why they are now in this situation. On the other hand there are women that feel that they have caused this problem and that it is now their fault as to why they are in this situation. I feel that this article touched me personally because I have a family member that is not able to have children. I have seen her go through a lot emotionally and physically and I would never hope this among anyone. There is nothing wrong with these women and they should not think that people are going to judge them, although I can imagine how they must feel not being able to have the one thing that they want: children.

  22. HM

    The idea that women and their bodies are the embodiment of the nation state and that because of that rape is used as a violation of a group it is an interesting concept and one that I have heard before, but never one that I had seen explained in such detail as it was in “Our Women/Their Women.” It tied in with the concept brought forth in “Infertile Bodies”, in which many women stated that their failures to conceive made them feel like failures as women. “Our Women/Their Women” describes the body as self in terms of a nation while “Infertile Bodies” describes the body as self on an individual level. I don’t usually think of bodies as anything but bodies, but it is very true that women’s bodies aren’t just the function of parts, as a medical model likes to think, but actually have a diverse array of meanings in the minds of people. As a person who doesn’t ever want children, I’ve had difficulty understanding why infertility is so heartbreaking to the women affected by it. I always assumed that those type of people should just adopt a child, but I think “Infertile Bodies” gave me a little more insight into why infertility is reacted to as it is, these women see themselves as less than women because of the predominant focus of women as reproducers. In a society where we define women based on their ability to conceive children, it is easy to see why a woman would feel like a failure for being unable to easily do the one thing she is defined as. They are also made to feel inferior in the biomedical model because they aren’t doctors and were therefore expected to listen to and do what their doctor said regardless of what they felt was best about their own body. The author stated that many of the women were in agreement with the medical model while changing it to meet their own needs, but I think it was less a relationship of harmony and more a relationship where the women respected the technology of their doctors but were further discouraged by their doctor’s opinions that just because it was their body it didn’t mean that they knew what was best for it or what may be going on. In many senses women aren’t entrusted with their own bodies to know what is needed and that leads inevitably to the situation where others feel they need to control and regulate the bodies of women.

  23. CP

    Most of the readings this week address the instrumental uses of women, from considering women as a “tool” used to construct the path to development and prosperity, to women as sites of ethnonationalistic reproduction and the physical markers of territory. In all of these examples, the patriarchy sees the situation of the women as natural and not in need of improving.

    While these articles are about women in foreign countries, Italy Peru, and the Balkans, this sort of thinking is present in the US also. It is common in the discourse of fundamental religion, with the “natural” role of the woman being to birth and raise children, as well as part of their argument against gay parenting. The rhetoric of the white nationalist movement in the US closely follows the ideas presented in “Our Women”/”Their Women” by Mostov. They have the same concerns about the transmission of ethnonationalistic values and the dilution of these values caused by the “over-reproduction” of the “others” within their present boundaries. The white nationalist movement advocates the physical separation of white society from non-whites. There are many websites advocating that white nationalist families relocate to particular areas (usually the pacific northwest, or Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), to increase their population density there to allow them take control of the local government and ultimately to secede from the US. The role of women in this society is summarized in this quote from an on-line discussion regarding why young men are avoiding marriage. The poster is stating what he thinks the duties of a white nationalist woman are:

    “She just have to fulfil the most important position in the world RAISE WHITE CHILDREN WELL. …it is the mothers responsibility to arrange the housekeeping and be a good wife to her husband.”

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this…I guess the main point I wanted to make is that even though the events in article took place in the former Yugoslavia and seem fairly foreign to me (at least in my day-to-day life), the same types of ideas are circulated and being promoted right now in the US.

  24. sashi29

    I was particularly interested in the article “Fertility politics as ’social viagra’: Reproducing boundaries, social cohesion, and modernity in Italy” in this weeks readings. Viagra was used as a metaphor to speak to the need for a remedy for the low fertility rates in Italy, “because it would pump life into a impotent society”. The kind of life encouraged to reproduce are Italian and European citizens. Just as Viagra is an option to those who can afford it, the social Viagra that is question is about supporting Italian women and men to reproduce “Italians” rather than immigrants. Implicit in the imagery is privilege whereby certain men that have access to technological resources can use and enjoy this, while others do not. This metaphor of Viagra to reinvigorate the reproduction of Italian babies is supported by government policies like “baby bonus” which provided 1,000 Euros to Italians and Europeans that had or adopted a second child in 2003. As the author highlights, low fertility “is a social phenomenon that intrinsically involves the construction of masculinity as well as sexuality.” Using Viagra as a metaphor in discussing the pronatalist agenda to low fertility, it seems to leave out the many reasons that women make choices to have or not have children. Thereby, the construction of patriarchal structures (government) perpetuate infertility policies where women do not participate equally in reproductive decision making. In this way women’s bodies are regulated through reproductive policies targeted to benefit hegemonic structures and increase reproduction among certain women and discourage it in others.

  25. the_fallen

    You are a traitor is you refused to have children, boys and girls who eventually complete the circle of life. Women will stay home, bear children and take care of their family while men go out, work and provide for their families. Those who want to break this cycle are selfish are unpatriotic, and unwomanly.

    Now those are traditional ideas that many modern individuals still believe in, and refuse to accept some people’s choices. Women are blamed everywhere and by many, even the Croatian President. Women are not the only ones that are affected by these social beliefs, but physicians as well especially those who perform abortions. Even the bible is being used to justify beliefs about abortions, beliefs that when “judgment” day comes, these women will meet the children they have aborted and will be questioned. It is ridiculous and outrageous how women are treated because they fail to accomplish “what they were born for” and it is bad enough that the bible is also being used against them.

    According to one of the articles, women are “producers of a nation” but if so why are women treated so unequally and seen as a commodity with no real values? Women have been fighting for their rights for a very long time and though circumstances have improved, patriarchal beliefs are still circulating everywhere around the world.

    Women in many “third” world countries are struggling even more for their rights and sadly poor women are not involved or sometimes not included in those fights. For instance, back in the U.S. when Caucasian women started fighting for their rights, African American women were excluded. Now going back to women in the “third” world countries, many of them are so poor and under educated that they do not think about gender roles. But on the other hand, many of these poor women also have to help out in any ways that they can and that include working in the field by their husbands’ sides and also taking care of their households as additional responsibilities. I have seen the both side of these in women in the “third” world and how hard their daily lives are. Not to say that the men have it easy but I know the women work twice as hard. Though, the positive side of being a “third” world poor woman is having a household full of extended family members that help take care of the household. I have watched many relatives going to work everyday and coming home to take care of their families.

  26. b.green

    The article on pronatalism was very interesting. I liked how it broke down the different types of framing that took place in the discussion of women’s reproductive work. The most interesting framing came from the conservatives and their use of feminist language to describe “pro-mother” arguments. However, the conservatives only used feminist language in order to attain their own goals, that stemmed from a racist agenda. This related to the reading about the sterilization campaign in Peru, that happened and grew because it used feminist language to describe reproductive health, but the underpinnings of the program was racist. It seemed a common theme that woman’s bodies were used to out breed another race, and the fact that feminist language is being used to defend these actions, makes it more complicated to unpack because it is hard to argue against feminism because doing so may endanger further feminist acts, but not to do so would be promoting “white feminism”.

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