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From Egg Donation to Fertility Apps: Feminist Knowledge Production and Reproductive Rights

  • Aristea Fotopoulou
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change book series (PSCSC)

Abstract

This chapter revisits the concept of networked feminism within the wider context of debates in contemporary feminism about forms of gendered and reproductive labour (Dickenson, 2007; Franklin and Lock, 2003; Thompson, 2005). I turn here to account for feminist projects of knowledge production about reproductive technologies and their regulation in digital media, focusing specifically on the example of fertility policy around egg donation and fertility tracking with smart technologies. The significance of reproductive labour for global capitalism, and the biodigital vulnerabilities that are created in relation to reproductive technologies are my key interests in this discussion. Reproductive labour and the changes in the political economy of reproduction brought by new reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilisation and egg extraction, are controversial issues that have invited numerous feminist interventions around the world. A conceptualisation of gendered labour is vital for an understanding of the reconfigurations of the ‘political’ in our digitally mediated worlds. Second, I move on to analyse the communicative acts that contribute to a layperson’s knowledge production about reproductive rights, and note how these cut across academic/grassroots, online/offline, and national/local spaces, whilst challenging these boundaries. Feminist networks attempt to create alternative but credible sources of knowledge that question dominant understandings of biomedicine and its policy. My examination shows how these actors establish their credibility and how their participation in mainstream digital media legitimises them as representatives of affected groups in society. The central preoccupation with subjective experience and seizing control over one’s body in contemporary feminist mobilisations indicates continuity with the Women’s Health Movement. As with the other chapters in this book, there are deep contradictions that characterise feminist politics of reproduction, as neoliberal discourses of individual choice, sexual agency and empowerment shape the conditions in which they emerge. I argue that these politics can be better understood in relation to embodied, material practices of knowledge production, mutual learning and self-experimentation with digital media and smart technologies.

Keywords

Reproductive labour Feminist knowledge production Reproductive technologies Biopolitics Digital media 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aristea Fotopoulou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BrightonBrightonUnited Kingdom

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