How far are conservatives willing to go in their quest to exert ownership over fetuses? Extremely far, it turns out, with a push for a radical enforcement of Alabama’s chemical endangerment law that would mean people can be imprisoned for prenatal exposure to hazardous substances. Taking such a stance, history reveals, can result in a situation where a woman will seek an unwanted abortion to avoid prosecution.
In the wake of enormous tragedy, it is left to each of us to analyze the coverage of stories that startle even the most hardened of media consumers. Shaquan Duley, 29, is a South Carolina resident who confessed last week to suffocating two of her toddler-aged children, 1-year-old Ja’van Duley and 2-year-old Devean Duley, then putting her car into neutral and letting it drive off-road into the nearby Edisto River, after initially claiming that she lost control of the vehicle before it entered the river. As details of the case unfold, the portrait of Duley which has emerged is villainous and one-dimensional: she is seen as little more than a young, single and poor Black mother who drowned her children as a result of an argument with her own mother.
This case follows an eerily similar precedent in South Carolina: in 1994, Susan Smith, a white middle-class mother of two boys, strapped both children into their car seats before submerging her car in John D. Long Lake in Union, South Carolina. Like Duley, Smith initially lied about the incident, claiming that her car had been stolen by a young Black man. Continue reading →
The modern world is filled with scientific innovations that have advanced the quality and longevity of life. There was a time when women who were infertile had two options: adoption or nursing an empty womb. There have certainly always been women who did not desire to mother, but for those who were involuntarily infertile, the inability to conceive created terrible pain. IVF has brought the joy of motherhood to millions of women and we have come to see this as a scientific good without questioning what — if any — limitations should be imposed on this process.
Women’s advocates argue for female autonomy and the right of women to control their own bodies; however, in the case of IVF treatment, women are not the only ones being affected. It is important to remember that a child is the result of a successful treatment and that he or she is going to be in a dependent situation for years to come. No one speaks for these potential children in fear that putting limitations on this procedure means putting restrictions on women’s reproductive choices. Continue reading →
Today is Mother’s Day and restaurants and florist shops are on overdrive, trying to keep up with the consumer-driven holiday we have created to celebrate motherhood. In advertising, I have seen everything from sofas and loveseats to big screen televisions (supposedly on sale) all meant to honour women who have raised or are currently raising children. Looking at the ads, it would be easy to believe that this is a universal concern because so much has been dedicated to this supposed holiday; however, it is far from the truth.
Jillian Michaels recently caused a stir when she announced that she did not want to have children for fear of losing her figure. Michaels has struggled with weight problems in the past and the fear of becoming fat again was too much for her to overcome. There are plenty of women who do not want to become mothers for various reason, but Jillian’s comments represent a particular frame of thought that has come to be associated with motherhood.
Photographers aggressively seek pictures of women with a baby bump and even when a woman is not pregnant, the slightest weight gain is enough to set people speculating as to whether or not she is with child. Once again, this might seem like an obvious love of motherhood, however, nothing could be further from the truth. These investigations are simply just more discipline of female bodies. If it is revealed that a woman is not pregnant, the fat shaming begins immediately and if she is pregnant, the policing of her personal activities ensues. Suddenly, every action and every single morsel of food that she consumes becomes the business of the public – all wrapped in so-called concern for the unborn child. Continue reading →