Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Contents Under Pressure

Some things about being a modern woman give me pause. I thought about this today while on the Delta Shuttle. Across the aisle, a woman in a pantsuit was wearing very high heels. Who travels in heels? Personally, I wear them when I am in the office or at a club; otherwise, I am in transit in flipflops or Puma-lookalike sneakers. The thought of dragging a rollaboard and a laptop bag or hoofing it to the subway in stilettos or anything with greater than an inch heel disturbs me.
To my left, a woman who appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties was reviewing her IVF handbook and highlighting relevant sections. Perhaps my maternal instincts have not gone into overdrive yet, but why would a woman pump herself full of carcinogenic drugs (needles - OW!) and then have eggs extracted(double OW!), on top of the general aches and pains of pregnancy, for the sake of having a child? One of my friends underwent this procedure, more so because her husband was snipped during his first marriage, and had such a miserable time. She had to undergo two cycles, and losing the first baby really destroyed her mental health for a few months. Plus, the progesterone she had to ingest during the first trimester made her hip joints hurt. To me, this sounds spookily like a woman's body becoming little more than a babymaking factory. Is having a "perfect family" worth it? I ask myself if I would be willing to undergo this if God forbid I ever have fertility issues. At this point, my answer would be an emphatic NO, that I would rather roll someone else's genetic dice and adopt or even just be everyone favorite "auntie" than endure this, and I have profound respect and befuddlement for those who do.
The underlying question is then, after over thirty years of feminism and women's lib, must we still be valued by our ability to look good in uncomfortable shoes and pop out babies? Has the movement to emancipate women from the chains of the "feminine mystique" simply encaged us in a new prison? Selfishly, is this what I have to look forward to?!


Joanna said...

Yes, but for every idiot tripping over her stillettos on the train, there are 10 real women like us laughing. Here's to wearing crappy sneakers on the train!

Michael A. Seidman said...

I feel obligated to reply to the IVF issue. Admittedly, there's no shortage of babies in the world, and I am still debating the have/adopt/uncle issue myself, but you're fighting evolution here. The sole reason species exist according to Darwin is to reproduce (admittedly, this ignores the metaphysical crap, but it's biologically essentially correct).

As such, biology will push a woman to reproduce at all costs! There are very few examples outside humanity where an otherwise healthy adult female will choose not to take every effort to produce offspring. As such, perhaps these women are just responding to inner urges they can't entirely control. Subjugation of desires that strong requires considerable external input, and maybe it's just not there for them.

With that said, I think the non-IVF options, i.e. adopting or being a good relative, are very important, as this is one of the clear advantages social species have, i.e. having other support for babies insufficiently supported by their parents for whatever reasons. All I'm saying is don't be too harsh to these women nor underestimate the drive they experience. Becoming a test tube might be a price they're willing to pay to pass on their genes (and, possibly, their sexy designer jeans, too).