While writer Katherine Macfarlane applauds the efforts to give women more reproductive choices, she also takes note of "the social pressures at play that equate true womanhood with the ability to become a biological mother... pressure to experience motherhood in a very specific way."
I understand the determination to become a mother. Aside from the fact that it’s a natural part of life, socialization makes the experience of motherhood hard to separate from the experience of being a woman... I know from personal experience that, even when it could pose a threat to your own wellbeing, the chance to carry a baby yourself is compelling... It's hard to let that dream go...
Uterus transplants will give women who had lost hope a new chance to control their reproductive choices: They can now choose the option of experiencing motherhood through their own pregnancies.
If women walk into these procedures fully informed of the risks, advised by doctors who will weigh the pressure to experience pregnancy alongside what women want, uterus transplants will represent medical innovation at its best. But questioning the restrictive gender norms that might influence those choices is critical.The key point here for, for me, was the very specific focus on "biological" motherhood as a norm that women feel pressured to aspire to. Interestingly, the article does not define any alternatives to "biological motherhood." It does not encourage women to "just adopt" or consider adoption as an alternative. In fact, I don't think the word "adoption" appears once in the article. (Other "alternative" routes to motherhood, including the use of donor eggs or surrogacy, are not mentioned either.) On the one hand, it's kind of refreshing. ;) On the other hand, when you think about it, it seems slightly odd... if you're questioning the pressures women feel to achieve motherhood biologically, why no mention of the other ways they can achieve this goal?
Which brings me to my point. I just wish the writer had gone one step further. It's not JUST the pressure to become a biological mother and/or experience pregnancy yourself that women face -- it's the pressure we face to become mothers, period, by any means possible. Or, if not to actively parent a child, then at least to appear "motherly" and nurturing in other ways, and especially when interacting with other people's children. (I know there was a great online discussion on this subject recently, although I can't for the life of me remember where -- on a blog? On Facebook? -- if anyone remembers, let me know in the comments!)
Of course, many people consider feminism to be anti-motherhood -- perhaps the writer and the magazine was trying to avoid that image with this specific focus?
What do you think? -- of the pressures to become a mother, biologically or otherwise, and of uterine transplants as a potential route to motherhood?