The reproductive body

The reproductive body

The reproductive body

The reproductive body

With some of the developments in the twentieth century, there is a possibility of insinuating that different entities regard the body as a key site for cultural, medical, political and social interventions. This position relates to different aspects in life, for instance, ethics, disability, medicine, old age, and work, among other considerations. According to Hancock et al, people take recognition of the body as a terrain through which “…struggle over control and resistance is fought out in contemporary societies.”[1] This struggle is also manifest in the shift towards the recognition of old age and disabilities as epithets of human rights issues rather than deriving the understanding in the welfare or medical perspective[2]. With these considerations, there is a possibility of arguing that the shifts in the understanding of the body by contemporary society has an effect on the cultural, ethical as well as medical dispositions.

It is possible to determine that the contemporary society regards the body as problematic for social analysis, cultural and linguistic analysis. This might be due to discussions on issues to do with the body that is present in the moral, political and social life. This presence also determines the sociological orientations of individuals in the society. With these changes, it is possible to determine that ethics fights out the relations that exist between bodies and aesthetics since the focus of most of the people in contemporary society is based on the aspect of self-enhancement. With this consideration, it is also possible to determine that medicine in contemporary society is experiencing a shift that focuses more on the healthy bodies than on diseased bodies. In support of this argument is the development of new reproductive technologies, which not only assists people who might have not been in a position to have children biologically related to them, but also those that might not be willing to go through the process of bearing children naturally.

The emergence of these technologies raises a number of ethical questions that are seemingly difficult for individuals to resolve. The ethical considerations worsen with increases in emerging reproductive assistance technologies, which is presumably increasing the availability of gestational mothers. Some of the main issues that increase the ethical dilemmas include the rights for procreation, the dilemma of whether vitro fertilization is morally acceptable, genetic manipulation and the aspect of surrogate motherhood among other morally challenging issues. These developments also raise issues to do with abortion, of which the proponents in the extreme end support it, arguing that the woman has absolute autonomy over her body. On the other hand, there are those individuals that consider abortion as committing murder, which is something that is not acceptable. These issues raise ethical questions regarding the rights of the unborn child and the rights of the mother.

The other development in issues to do with the functioning of the body in the 20th century is its inclusion in sociological discussions. Sociological interests in discussions about the body emanate from the aspect of its maintenance and its establishment within the precincts of social life. In order for individuals to present themselves as social actors, they are more likely to involve themselves in bodywork or activities that are associated with hygiene, good grooming and the socially determined outlook of perfection[3]. These changes led to the development of Descartes classic statement in the relationship that exists between mid and body. Through the classic statement, there is a possibility of determining that personhood is distinctive from the body of a human being[4]. This leads to the argument that it is impossible for human beings to lose the sense of self no matter the extent of damage to the body. This belief is somewhat related to the aspect of the development of scientific rationality, which, in part, has led to scientific developments on reproduction.

There is a possibility of indicating that the demographic changes taking place in the current society inform the need to respond to some of the changes that come about through aging. According to Descartes’ argument, is possible to insinuate that the reproductive developments brought about by science are only necessary for changing the physical aspects of the body but not the self.  However, it would be impossible to assume ethical implications of this manipulation, since society comprises of components as well as opponents of the idea of gene manipulation. The changes also challenge the cultural considerations of different societies, with of the people in the western exhibiting minor resistance to the cultural developments in comparison to the other cultural considerations by individuals from other parts of the world. There are women who might not be comfortable with the idea of bearing children naturally, maybe due to their career of maybe due to the sociological construct of the perfect bodies. For this reason, the women are highly likely to use the technological developments in order to get a child.

With the determination of the fact that there are different individuals opposed or are in support of the idea of using technological developments to get babies, it is possible to determine that each group has different reasons for their position. One of the reasons that encourage some of the individuals to approve the use of different technological developments like in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination by donor (AID), and euthanasia among other technologies necessary for the creation of embryos is the fact that they provide an opportunity for infertile individuals to get babies. This consideration would be beneficial to women who might not be able to get children naturally. From different experiences by mothers, it is possible to determine that they find pleasure in having a child and taking care of it, while others would not wish for that opportunity. According to experiences outlined by Cusk in her book, “A Life’s Work: on becoming a mother,” it is possible to determine that she offers interesting explanations of some of the things that happen in motherhood[5], which are considerations that might attract other women into having a child of their home.

There are also ethical arguments opposing the new technological developments for the getting babies. The arguments are mainly in opposition of the scientific experiments that are focused on the development of perfect babies, which are considerations that are do not receive universal support due to some of the ethical implications that emanate from the practice. For instance, Warnock does not support the idea of cloning based on the morality of the same. She also debates about the aspect of surrogacy, claiming that it is likely to end in tears, and that the idea of surrogacy is exploitative in nature[6]. Depending on the situation, there is a possibility of insinuating that Warnock does not give specifics on the right way to procreate. However, medical and scientific developments have made it possible for individuals who might not be in a position to get children naturally to obtain one[7].



Alexandra Howson, The Body in Society: An Introduction (Oxford: Polity, 2004)

Blaikie et al, eds, The Body: Critical Concepts in Sociology (London: Routledge, 2003)

  1. Backett-Milburn et al, eds, Exploring the Body (Basingstoke: Palgrave,2001)

Mark Seltzer, Bodies and Machines (London: Routledge, 1992)

Mary Warnock Making Babies: Is There a Right Way to Have Children (2003)

Mike Featherstone et al, eds, The Body: Social Process and Cultural Theory (London: Sage, 199)

  1. Hancock et al, eds, The Body, Culture and Society (Buckingham: Open Univ. Press, 2000)

Rachel Cusk, A Life’s Work: on Becoming a Mother (2002)

  1. Nettleton & J. Watson, eds, The Body in Everyday Life (London: Routledge, 1998)

[1] P. Hancock et al, eds, The Body, Culture and Society (Buckingham: Open Univ. Press, 2000)

[2] P. Hancock et al, eds, The Body, Culture and Society (Buckingham: Open Univ. Press, 2000)

[3] Howson, Alexandra. The Body in Society: An Introduction (Oxford: Polity, 2004)

[4] Howson, Alexandra. The Body in Society: An Introduction (Oxford: Polity, 2004)

[5] Rachel Cusk, A Life’s Work: on Becoming a Mother (2002)

[6] Mary Warnock Making Babies: Is There a Right Way to Have Children (2003)

[7] Mary Warnock Making Babies: Is There a Right Way to Have Children (2003)

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