Saturday, August 01, 2009

It took a feminist to write this: "Fetus fetishism"

Rosalind Pollack Petchesky was the first to suggest, in her landmark essay, "Foetal Images: The Power of the Visual Culture in the Politics of Reproduction " (1987), that the public fetus is best understood as a fetish. Fetishism of the fetus consists in attributing to it value as "life," as if this were a property magically inhering in the fetus alone, in a manner that obscures the fact that the continued vitality of any actual fetus depends utterly and complelely upon its continued sustenance by the woman who carries it.

I get the feeling that feminists attribute false intentions to supporters of fetal rights.

Do they suppose that all opponents of abortion are those who've never had children themselves?

How do you depict the fetus while depicting the mother, so that the two can both be represented and in their utter reality and their humanity? I'm open to suggestions. I thought about taking a picture of a woman having a 3-D ultrasound. But of course, the ultrasound monitor would be placed on a shelf, separate from the woman.

If there were a machine that would allow people to view a pregnant woman and a fetus together, and see all the vital functions at work simultaneously, I would be completely in favour of revealing those images. Because no matter how you project the images, the woman is an adult (or close to being one). The fetus is a vulnerable unborn child. No amount of critical theory will do away with the reality that they both have a distinct existence, even if the fetus is dependent on the mother.

The feminists only want people to see the woman, or the woman as supreme. The unborn child is a threat. The fact that he is depicted apart from the mom is not a graphical detail-- you are working with 2 dimensions and only have so much space-- it's a sinister conspiracy. It means that you are attributing the value of life to the fetus alone-- not working within the constraints of reproducing the photos.

I wish I were more familiar with the literature on feminist analysis of the fetus. I would like to know if there are pro-life scholars responses. If there aren't, there should be.

I recommend this chapter selection to my readers to know what our opponents are saying about the unborn child. I also liked some of the information I learned in this. I am cautious about taking all the historical details on her word, but if true, the points are rather interesting. We need to do the pro-life version of this.

Title: The Public Life of the Fetal Sonogram: Technology, Consumption, and the Politics of Reproduction

Author: Janelle S. Taylor
Edition illustrated
Publisher: Rutgers University Press, 2008
ISBN: 0813543649, 9780813543642
Length: 205 pages