The Business of Being Made

katiegentileheadshot1 By Katie Gentile

In her recent book Knock me up, knock me down, Kelly Oliver reminds us that until fairly recently, Hollywood made sure to keep pregnant celebrities out of sight. These days, you cannot pass a magazine stand without being visually assaulted by images of celebrity baby bumps. Neil Patrick Harris and Nicole Kidman with Keith Urban have gone so far as to discuss their experiences with their respective surrogates. Other older female celebrities have discussed egg donation. What is still kept under wraps, however, is infertility and the repetitive failures of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).

As with other forms of biotechnology, ARTs have become a normative part of women’s reproductive health care with a critical impact on women’s subjectivities (Mamo, 2010). Yet as these technologies have proliferated, feminist and cultural theories have taken up the challenges of theorizing the subjectivities produced through these interventions, but psychoanalysis has remained Read more...

ART in the freeze frame: Some reflections on ‘elective’ oocyte cryopreservation

[image url=”” alignment=”left” margin_left=”5″ margin_right=”5″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ width=”84″ height=”100″]By Sophie Zadeh

In October of last year, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a report on oocyte cryopreservation – egg freezing – in which it was determined that the proven success and safety of the technique permitted the lifting of its official ‘experimental’ label. In this report, however, it was also argued that too little is yet known about the medical, financial, ethical, psychological, and emotional effects of ‘elective’ oocyte preservation for the Society to recommend its use (1).

‘Elective’ oocyte cryopreservation – often dichotomised with egg freezing for medical reasons – has since become something of a hot topic within both professional and public discourse on assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Defined by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority as a possibility for women who may be “concerned about [their] fertility declining as [they] get older, and are not currently Read more...

IVF as Folklore: How Poetry Can Reclaim Maternal Selfhood

by Laura Seymour

Leaflets and other official sources of information about IVF refer to it largely in biological and medical terms: the surgery, the laboratory, the ‘procedure’. But the ways in which men and women introspect IVF do not tend to take this purified medical form, where the body, or the self, is seen as a totally surgical, medical entity. Though often encouraged by the media to view medical evidence as the most objective way to see themselves (as diseased, as at risk, as ‘due for a check up’, and as bearers of symptoms and other medical signs and meanings), healthcare and fertility treatments are also experienced as affective, political, economic, historical, ethical, psychological, and aesthetic. This blog post is partly a recommendation of an incredibly beautiful book, and partly an exploration of the way in which that book’s language-use exposes the intertwining of science with the social and personal Read more...

Beyond the Biological: How ARTs are Re-defining the ‘Maternal’ Relationship

DSC02721by Katie Hammond

In employing the term ‘maternal’ we are often referring to a ‘maternal instinct, ‘bond’ or ‘relationship’ – this last being my intended use. A quick Internet search reveals the maternal relationship to be a bond between a mother and her child. The relationship is typically thought to be continuous in its development, with its foundation beginning in pregnancy and childbirth.

The maternal relationship is an important one. We need only look to examples of other non-human animals (mammals, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, invertebrates, etc.) to understand its importance, if nothing else, for survival. Think of, for instance, the elephant mother. After 22 months of pregnancy she gives birth to a baby elephant: blind and dependent. The biological mother and the other female elephants in the group, called ‘allmothers’, care for the child until it can care for itself. For humans, the maternal relationship has been shown to Read more...