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42 MIN READ TIME

Be Wary of the Techno-fix

IN HER ESSAY, Merve Emre declares that “all reproduction … is assisted.” Few feminists of any wave or stripe would disagree. But if the statement that none of us go it alone is solid, some of Emre’s other moves put her on shaky ground. In her opening volleys, she skips lightly across fifty years of feminist thinking about reproductive technologies, leaping from Shulamith Firestone to Adrienne Rich to xenofeminism, with a brief stop at Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1984). She arrives at a diagnosis of contemporary reproductive culture: it is infected, she says, by “the discourse of the natural.” She takes contemporary feminism to task for this state of affairs, suggesting that it has not been sufficiently enthusiastic about high-tech reproduction and asserting that it “has not done a good enough job articulating what alternate strategies of reproduction may be.”

Is that really a fair critique of feminism today? Most feminists have long been aware that simplistic appeals to nature can justify anything, including gender inequalities and oppression. And while questions about “nature” and “technology” are very far from settled, little recent feminist theory or practice turns on naïve notions of “the natural.” In the twenty-first century, marketers of breakfast cereals, cosmetics, and prenatal vitamins—not feminists—are the main purveyors of the naturalistic fallacy.

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About Boston Review

From the breast pump to egg freezing, new technologies have long promised to “liberate” mothers, but the results are often uneven, freeing some women while worsening the oppression of others. Once and Future Feminist considers how technology offers women both advances and setbacks in the realms of sex, career, and politics. In the age of Silicon Valley, these issues are more pressing than ever, and this collection pushes readers to consider not only whether emancipatory feminism is possible today, but what it might look like.