Cross-posted from Singularity Watch.
The video starts with Shulamith Firestone’s 1970 quote: “The heart of women’s oppression is her childbearing and child-rearing roles…To assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and seizure of control of reproduction…so the end goal of the feminist revolution must be unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself; genital differences between human beings would no longer matter.”
Note the date. This is not new stuff. People have been gaga over the ability to create life sans womb for over 30 years. Maybe 100 even. Pregnancy is so painful and messy. Why can’t we just get over it?
Whether we use a high-tech package complete with artificial coitus, artificial uterus, and artificial birth, or a totally different method of creating a “human,” once we give pregnancy the boot, we will be truly changed. The question is what will we be changed into and is it a good thing?
The answer is up to women. Certainly men can have an opinion but, really, what would that opinion be worth? Men will never have the opportunity to carry another living soul within themselves (unless you consider intestinal e-coli as having a soul). They will never give up anything. Women must decide what to do about this. They are the ones losing a life experience.
The forethinkers in the video assert that women need to be freed from the shackles of carrying to the painful and messy term. Are they the true feminists then, the voice of women in general?
Perhaps. But contrary to what a number of ignorant anti-feminists would have us believe, feminists have always supported motherhood. They support motherhood as well as mothers. What confuses people is that they also support non-motherhood.
The reason for this apparent discord is that, at heart, what feminism actually supports is choice. Throughout history as the obstacles to choice have come into existence, been beaten down, and been born again in some other form, the feminist fight has also changed. Battles over the rights to education, enfranchisement, property ownership, fair recompense for services rendered, and a life free from violence, have at different times been the outward goals of feminism. Underlying it all always, though, is the fight for women to have choice.
Now comes the Singularity allowing women to have children the new-fashioned way: without pain and mess. And men can get in on the action. It’s not going to matter who your daddy or your mommy is, or even if you have a mommy or a daddy. It has been true for some time that Daddy isn’t needed, that’s what sperm banks as for. As far as I know men have not complained about this. Which is why the male opinion on this particular development doesn’t count for much. If armies of protesting men begging us to “put the ‘pa’ back into ‘parent’” found themselves in the weekly roundup, it might be different.
As it is, we look to feminism for answers on this issue. As long as a woman can procreate using whatever method she chooses–natural, or artificial–feminism won’t care one way or another. But money changes everything and at some point feminism will be forced off the fence. Perhaps it will be cheaper to create a test tube baby than to carry one to term. Do you think the insurance companies will continue to support natural pregnancy? First they’ll launch a massive pr campaign convincing us of the advantages of artificial childbearing. Once the majority of people opt for this option, the insurers will drop the option. What if some minority of people wants to bring life into the world in the old-fashioned way? Should society support this misguided group? You know how we are about that taxation stuff. It’s so painful and messy.
The problem comes from the fact that no one, unless they’ve borne a child, can know what it’s like. It will be easy to frighten or cajole first-time parents-to-be into choosing children from a catalog. They have no clue as to what they are missing. But many, many women of today will not agree that losing the ability to grow one yourself is a good thing. They will assert that there is something about having a baby the old-fashioned way. Maybe the process gives you universal knowledge; it’s a path to enlightenment. Maybe you see a side of life that the rest of us don’t even know exists. Maybe chemicals released during the feverish nine months combine alchemically in your psyche and for the rest of your life you live on a natural high.
From an intellectual standpoint, it makes sense to do away with painful, messy pregnancy first chance we get. Why go through the uncomfort? But I don’t think we should leave it up to the intellectuals on this one. The feminists need to huddle on it. Get back to us with a decision. Is this something that should go away? Will it truly grant equality to women or will it simply be something we no longer have a choice on?
I have heard that going through a pregnancy is one of the most profoundly satisfying experiences one will ever have. Will virtual pregnancy be enough to satisfy in the same way?
Of course pregnancy and gender identity is only one aspect of life that humanity gives up to reach life everlasting via The Singularity. We’ll also give up ethnic identity, age identity, and anything else that contributes to individuality. So what’s the diff?