TECHSPLOITATION I've been sorely disappointed by feminists' responses to genetic engineering. Like many life sciences, genetic engineering has its dark side — but that's no excuse for groups like Gene Watch to claim that the feminist position on genetic engineering should be "just say no." Why the hell shouldn't feminists seize the means of reproduction and turn them to our own best interests? Why shouldn't we be at the table when policy makers determine the best ways to regulate cloning, genetic engineering, and new reproductive technologies?
If we turn our backs on the debate, it will just go on without us. And we know how that turns out already. Just look at what happened with birth control pills. The pill was developed and tested in the 1950s entirely by male researchers — one of whom, Harvard's John Rock, was a devout Catholic. Rock pushed for a dose cycle of the pill that would replicate women's monthly menstrual cycle, essentially so that it could be, like the rhythm method, a God-approved form of birth control. The Pope disagreed, but the monthly pill cycle stuck, despite the fact that the pill could completely eliminate menstruation for as long as a woman wished and there was no evidence that this was any less healthy than a monthly menstrual cycle.
Let's think here, people — if women and feminists had been involved in the process of developing the pill, there is no goddamn way we would have let them take away the possibility of a pill to eliminate our "little visitor." No woman likes to bleed once a month. It's messy; it's crampy; occasionally there are embarrassingly stained clothes and sheets. Only men would deem it "better" for us to keep on putting up with this biological annoyance even after finding a cure for it. Luckily, there are now a handful of birth control products on the market, such as Seasonale and Lybrel, that do eliminate periods as well as prevent pregnancy. It only took 50 years.
That's why any feminist worth her sodium chloride should be charging into the debate on genetic engineering with a list of demands. Hell, yes, we want to change the biology of reproduction — and we want to change it now.
The primary goal of a feminist genetic engineering project is to cut the reproductive process loose from patriarchy and male domination. One simple way to do that is to make sure feminist politics are front and center in any discussion about how we will use genetic engineering to eliminate harmful birth defects. I think we can all agree that it would be great to make sure babies aren't born with holes in their hearts, but what about girl babies born with small breasts? Can't you just see some clueless researcher claiming that women with small breasts are "harmed" psychologically, and that therefore we should engineer all women to have big ones? Feminists need to shut that shit down right away.
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