Sunday, October 26, 2014

Slate's Reihan Salam Engages States Without Nations' Feminist Analysis



Most public discussion of States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals centers on a practical discussion of the first of its four proposals: eliminating birthright citizenship and allowing free movement and citizenship based on residency, along the lines of requirements for state residency in the United States. The overarching historical and theoretical framework tends not to receive much attention.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see journalist 's recent article on Slate "The End of Pregnancy and the Inevitable Rise of the Artificial Womb" explore the book's analysis of pregnancy envy.
Stevens suggests that our society is screwed up in large part because men have created myths, rituals, and laws that entrench their power as a way to compensate for a profound sense of inadequacy instilled early in life.
Salam explores the technological changes that may topple the current reproductive practices and thus the compensatory policies responsive to these, at least for elites working at Apple who have their eggs stored, thus readying them for the near distant future's possibility of ectogenesis. 

Salam claims that paternity testing also changes the compensatory rationales of inheritance and other policies.  But my argument is about the effects of early childhood fantasies boys have about the significance of their inability to give birth.  Empirical claims about new assessments for genetic paternity or men's actual contributions to child-rearing are not relevant to understanding the causes of the structures instantiating through law intergenerational families and nations.  Still, fun to think with Salam about new reproductive technologies and practices.  

For more on the relation between reproductive technologies and the feminist revolution, check out Shulamith Firestone's classic The Dialectics of Sex: The Case for a Feminist Revolution (1970).  Firestone wrote this at age 23, while a student at the Chicago Art Institute.  This reminds me that Gayle Rubin developed the central analysis in her classic essay, also theory-heavy, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex" (1975) when she was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and active in the feminist movement there. So here's a shout-out to the Midwest and campus activism in the 1970s for these two brilliant, iconoclastic feminist thinkers.

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