, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 543–567 | Cite as

Morally accounting for sex selection online in Turkey

  • Burcu MutluEmail author
Original Article


The Internet, beyond providing opportunities for advertising reproductive services, offers people an anonymous social space to exchange information, support, and personal stories regarding their reproductive goals and to enact reproductive moral reasoning regarding controversial biotechnologies in complex ways. Focusing on the online discussion forum of the Turkish web portal Women’s Club, this article examines the moral negotiations of sex selection by women seeking to legitimize or delegitimize it through rhetorical appeal to a mix of science, religion, gender, ignorance, propitiousness, and modernity. By doing so, it will reveal the ways in which women forum members work to craft not only moral selves and technologies but also a shared space for moral reflection. By examining the discursive content of Turkish women’s postings concerning sex selection, I argue that online forums offer these women an anonymous moral space to discuss their reproductive goals, although some family secrets do not escape the moral scrutiny of others even within these forums. The heterogeneity and complexity of women’s moral engagements with reproductive technologies on the Internet demonstrates that reproductive issues are moral issues directly related to the expectations for women as gendered beings, as individuals, family members, and as citizens, and also serve to reproduce social relations, including patriarchal inequalities.


sex selection PGD internet moral reasoning family-making Turkey 



This article received the 2016 Mother Board Writing Prize from the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies. The article has its origin in a MIT-Harvard joint course “History and Anthropology of Medicine and Biology” co-taught by Stefan Helmreich and David Jones in 2013. An early version of the article was presented at MIT Symposium on Gender and Technology in 2014. I benefited from the discussions at the symposium and especially the comments of Ruha Benjamin as the panel discussant. This article also contains data collected during my dissertation fieldwork, funded by National Science Foundation’s Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: #1456130. I am grateful to my supervisor Heather Paxson for her critical guidance, amazing editing skills, and great patience. I am thankful to three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments. I would also like to thank Osman Savaşkan for his support and encouragement throughout the process of writing this article.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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