Here’s a link to a new essay I was invited to contribute to an issue of NANO on Gift Economies. It explores the role that fertility plays in the way/s that women can participate in policy making in all levels of society (past and present). What do you think?
This essay explores fertility’s impact on economics and the gendered relations of power among humans in patriarchy. By definition, patriarchs rule through fertility—their status depends upon the exclusion of women from policymaking by means of childbearing. When forced to bear and rear early, women receive limited education and have neither skills nor time to object. The availability of birth control and abortion transforms this situation. This essay argues that anti-reproductive-choice arguments based on the premise that an unborn potential child has received an individual “gift of life” which it is the mother’s duty to host occlude the way that the arrival at maturity of human lives depends on the ongoing gift of parents’ (principally mothers’) time and energy. When this “gift” is coerced, it blocks the innovative participation and skills development of huge portions of the population and may cause the impoverishment of the family, including parents, older children and other relatives, into which the new child arrives.
ARE WOMEN FULL CITIZENS? The Abortion Debate and the “Gifts” of Life and Poverty
Humans exist in network, interdepending mutually, parts of a social and physical ecology in which what one does affects what others may or may not do. Humans depend upon the circulation of what may be called gifts from the earth, which provide physical sustenance, and from the cultures in which they are raised, which provide them with language and the storehouse of human technology and skills. Caregivers provide young humans with time, nourishment, and knowledge that are essential to their development and which may also be viewed as gifts (the term caregiver implies it). Adults and children both receive framework gifts from their cultures, including shared narratives (providing a sense of meaning and direction), and infrastructure (like roads and market systems). All humans then support others with ongoing cultural gifts of knowledge, technology and materials that pass through them and circulate back to others. All gifts are embedded in social and physical contexts, never the independent contribution of one individual to another. … MORE