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26 MIN READ TIME

Extreme Pregnancy

HAVING A CHILD, like heterosexuality, is a very stupid idea. It will not end well—for you, your friends, the planet. Others may applaud and encourage you. Do not be deceived: they are just being nice. Children are a cancer. Shulamith Firestone’s program in The Dialectic of Sex (1970) isn’t just insane for wanting to outsource childbirth to the machines. The automation of gestational labor is a modest proposal next to the notion that humankind should be reproducing at all. What’s crazier, believing in people pods or just believing in people? Compare Valerie Solanas in the SCUM Manifesto (1967), skeptical of even her own plan for cybernetic parthenogenesis: “Why should there be future generations? What is their purpose?”

But I banked my sperm anyway, begrudgingly persuaded by childful friends who counseled, with the sagacity that grows, like a polyp, in every woman’s womb, that the urge to procreate might strike me later in life with all the flexibility of a midnight craving. I did it early in transition, before hormones, using money I had extorted from my parents, then still in sackcloth and ashes over the death of their son. At the cryobank, I was directed to a small windowless beige room, like an examination room in which you were expected to be your own doctor. On one wall, there was a television, vaguely operable by remote; they must have assumed that everyone would just use their phone. On the adjoining wall hung a pair of penciled nudes that managed, somehow, to signify tastefulness without actually going to the trouble of being tasteful. There were tissues, and magazines, and a sink. It was a place empty of sex, but full of its idea.

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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.