In the Womb of Utopia: Feminist Science Fiction, Reproductive Technology, and the Future
Keywords:feminist futurity, reproductive technology, feminist science fiction, utopia
This article explores the ways in which reproductive technology is used as a literary trope to enable or embody a
desired social order in a utopian setting. It discusses Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and “Coming of Age in Karhide” (1995), Joanna Russ’ The Female Man (1975), and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976). In these American classics of feminist science fiction, reproduction is a key element, and they are rooted in a feminist understanding of power that sees the organization of both reproductive and child-care labor as central to analyses of patriarchy, as well as to any attempts to re-imagine patriarchal structures. The analysis draws on critical kinship studies that see the forming of kinship and families as a form of “cultural technology” and which thus opens these relationships to critical examination. It explores how the kind of change reproductive technologies can effect is not a property simply inherent in the technologies
themselves. Rather, these medical technologies intersect with and become part of pre-existing cultural technologies of family and gender. Finally, the article addresses the question of how feminist futurities or feminist conceptions of time can be mobilized to enable resistance and change.
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