Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Overcoming Pregnancy: gender egalitarianism's last frontier

In order for men and women to be truly equal, all women
must hand their reproductive potential over to science and
technology, leading academics now claim.
The only way to truly solve the problem of “gender apartheid”, according to some of the more extreme gender neutralizers, is to do away with pregnancy completely.

I'm not making this up. In January 2012, Lifesite news quoted from Dr. Anna Smajdor in an article she had recently written for the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. In the article Dr. Smajdor argued that in order for men and women to be equal, all women would have to stop being pregnant and hand their reproductive potential over to science and technology. “Pregnancy is a condition that causes pain and suffering, and that affects only women” Dr Smajdor was quoted as saying. “…women are disadvantaged”.

In other words, commented Lifesite news journalist Peter Baklinski, “to be a woman, for Smajdor, simply means to become biologically more like a man. To do this, a woman’s innate and natural potential to procreate, nurture, and bear a new human life must be stripped away and handed over to science and technology. Only when all human beings do not bear children will a genuine equality be more closely approached, she proposes.”

Although this sounds bizarre, it is part of the widespread unisex trend. Given the pervasive assumption that being equal means being the same, and combining this with the premise that being equal is always a good thing (a point I dispute here), many in our society are now wanting to eradicate all gender distinctions. 

Dr Smajdor's comments remind us that, however far we may have advanced towards gender egalitarianism, pregnancy remains a final barrier towards achieving the gender-free utopia. You see, pregnancy constantly reminds us of the one thing that the new social architects would like us to forget: that men and women are different, and have different lived experiences in the world.

You just have to read the newspapers to see that it isn't extremists like Dr Smajdor who have a deep seated angst about pregnancy. Even mainstream writers see pregnancy as posing a problematic barrier to the project of a unisex utopia. In April 2009, the Telegraph ran an article titled, “Telling pregnant women not to drink is ‘sexist’.” The story cited medical legal expert, Dr Colin Gavaghan, who asked, “Is singling out one sex for particular monitoring and lecturing from healthcare professionals a legitimate cause for concern?” and called current the recommendations of abstinence that healthcare professionals offer to pregnant women “a straightforward sexist policy.”

Let’s face it: when it comes to having a responsible pregnancy, women are singled out from the human race. What Dr Gavaghan’s remarks failed to acknowledge is that there is a very good reason for singling women out. You see, although it may sound trivial, the fact remains that only women can become pregnant. However ‘equal’ our society strives to be, assistance for pregnancy will always necessarily be targeted towards the female sex.

Or will it?

In 2006 the British Department of Health published a new edition of their The Pregnancy Book. Just so men don’t feel left out, they have a chapter for them in which they say that men can experience nausea as a symptom of pregnancy too. Moreover, according to a 2010 report in The Daily Mail, men in the UK are being given government-funded breastfeeding lessons. I guess that in a world where pregnancy hasn't yet been eradicated, the next best thing is to pretend that pregnancy isn't gender-specific.


Further Reading




Among some of the more extreme gender neutralizers, the only way to truly solve the problem of “gender apartheid” is to do away with pregnancy completely. In January 2012, Lifesite news quoted from Dr. Anna Smajdor in an article she had recently written for the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. In the article Dr. Smajdor argued that in order for men and women to be equal, all women would have to stop being pregnant and hand their reproductive potential over to science and technology. “Pregnancy is a condition that causes pain and suffering, and that affects only women” Dr Smajdor was quoted as saying. “…women are disadvantaged”.
In other words, commented Lifesite news journalist Peter Baklinski, “to be a woman, for Smajdor, simply means to become biologically more like a man. To do this, a woman’s innate and natural potential to procreate, nurture, and bear a new human life must be stripped away and handed over to science and technology. Only when all human beings do not bear children will a genuine equality be more closely approached, she proposes.”
- See more at: http://salvomag.com/blog/2012/03/gender-neutralizers-attack-pregnancy/#sthash.POqwwePK.dpuf
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