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34 MIN READ TIME

Feminist Paradoxes

MERVE EMRE REJECTS the concept of “the natural” in the realm of human reproduction. She also challenges the reader to look beyond gendered binaries to think about the human experience of reproduction in an expanded way—one that includes single individuals, same-sex couples, and trans and gender-nonconforming people—for a maximally inclusive feminist solidarity.

I appreciate this undertaking even if Emre’s rejection of the “natural” is not new. Feminist anthropologists, such as Sylvia Yanagisako and Jane Collier, have long critiqued ideas of “natural sex,” gender binaries, and “natural” male and female procreative roles. It seems to me though that Emre’s dictum, “all reproduction … is assisted,” may unnecessarily limit what can be meant by a term as capacious as “natural.” One could contend, for example, that it is natural for a lesbian couple or single woman without a partner to conceive with the help of a donor sperm. As one woman I interviewed told me: “Of course we used a sperm donor. How else would a lesbian get pregnant?” It is likewise natural for a person who faces difficulties conceiving to pursue whatever technology is available to help with having a child.

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