Motherhood under Technocracy

Politics of Motherhood: Part 2


Motherhood under Technocracy
by Azadeh Azad

>>> (Intro) -- (Part 1) -- (Part 2)
-- (Part 3) -- (Conclusion)


Although women were the main inventors of tools during the Neolithic Revolution, with the advent of patriarchy, they became identified with nature, while men were marked as producers of technology. Through technology, men conquer nature and other men, and exercise control over women's bodies.

There is this dominant view that technology is neutral, just a neutral tool for any kind of purpose; that only the purposes can be good or bad. However, this concept of technology is not consistent when its utility is considered. Every technological device was initially an idea motivated by the wish to satisfy a need or accomplish a purpose. And any purpose or need should be morally and ethically evaluated.

This standpoint places technology in the domain of social space. In fact, social spaces that technological devices are supposed to transform, have been imagined and thought of in a certain way. Technological devices are produced to ensure that people relate to each other and to objects in a specific way. This relationship is a social space that is transformed and dominated by technology.

Regarding motherhood, the technological ideology entirely rules over the production of devices and their effects on the relationship between the mother, the baby, and the father inside the space of the house.

Accepting this is tantamount to divulging the myth of neutrality of technology. In reality, technology divides social space and overwhelms the relationship between social space and its contents.

In the practice of ultrasound screening and its images, the body of the baby is viewed as totally detached from the body of the pregnant mother-to-be. This robotic attitude towards human growth can be noted in the various products of the new reproductive technologies, and in several devices that encircle the baby, mother, and father during the childbearing journey.

In the Western culture of the 21st century, those who wish to ensure the making of a healthy baby, are expected to pose questions such as: What machines and objects should be purchased? How these gadgets will be installed and used in the baby’s room to guarantee her well-being and safety? How these technological devices improve the functioning of a woman’s body in order to make her a better mother?

Here, two facts support the idea that neither technology nor culture can be viewed as neutral: 1) the equation of the woman's body and the use of technology to turn the baby’s initial house, i.e., the woman's body, into a nourishing and protected environment; and 2) The extension of the woman's body to the house, the social space inhabited by the mother and baby.

The new medical technologies have been forced on the woman's body with the purpose of making it more fruitful. By being altered into patients under the control and surveillance of doctors and their technological devises, mothers have been downgraded to machines.

Throughout the processes of conception, pregnancy and childbirth, women have been conditioned to have faith in doctors, to the detriment of their own awareness of their bodies. Applying this to the family home, technocracy has transformed the house into a medical clinic. In the 21st century, mothers avail themselves of monitors, nebulizers, sterilization apparatus, devices called “diaper genies” and so on. In the social spaces of motherhood and the house as clinic, the baby has turned into the doctor’s patient and the mother into the patient’s nurse.

During pregnancy, the foetus and the woman's body where it is sheltered are required to give in to many high-tech machines in order to guarantee that a normal and healthy baby is produced. In such a context, the medical technology creates the foetus. Moreover, the mother’s experience of pregnancy calls for the display of foetal images. The foetus is now a thing.

By entering and colonizing the bodies of mothers-to-be, the technocratic ideology eliminates the woman's body while keeping its value as a machine as long as possible for the making of healthy babies. Technocracy, patriarchy, and capitalism are interwoven in the mother's body along these lines.

In the pregnant body, the uterus is important as practical product, as a space increasingly dependent on technology and mechanisms of surveillance and social control, and the space where the sperm of the father is lodged.

The new reproductive technologies are certainly beneficial to individual women. However, they have created new spaces of motherhood and have given more space and time to the obstetrical administration of pregnancy through in vitro fertilization, electronic foetal monitoring, amniocentesis, ultrasound, various in utero and ex utero foetal therapies, and routine caesarean sections.

Therefore, technological interventions, which are the only way to understand mothers’ pregnant bodies, subject these same bodies to disciplinary power. Once again, technology proves to be preferential and biased. Medical technocracy turns pregnancy and motherhood into trivial social practices, since its vision is to design and build impeccable devices that can create impeccable babies.

The technocratic ideology, which has an industrial and mechanical approach to the world, also perceives the woman's body and the construction of her identity as mother in terms of a well-adjusted device.

The technocratic ideology, which is predominant in the social spaces of woman’s body, pictures the house as an extension of this body. Such association is combined with the patriarchal demand of safeguarding male pedigree. Therefore, the house, its furniture and automated devices turn into technological instruments of women's maternal role, filling what is ”missing” in the woman’s body, turning woman into a good wife and mother.

The aim of technocracy and patriarchy is to control the social spaces of the woman's body to the point of changing her from a biological woman into a perfect robotic housewife. Patriarchy and technocracy will collaborate to fabricate a woman's body that operates as the ideal housewife and mother, thus achieving the dominant ideologies that rule over the spaces of motherhood in the woman's body.

Today, a cyborg mother in a shopping mall with a baby in a pram has at her disposal: a bottle of Similac, a pacifier, disposable diapers, a mat for changing the baby's wet diaper, a rattle to let the baby make her/his presence known, a pocket-sized mobile for the baby’s visual improvement, and so on.

Beside pacifiers, mothers have improved their bodies with rubber nipples, while they possess these mechanisms within their own bodies. To this effect, technology has not only alienated the space of mothering from the woman’s body, but has also created a colonized space which is sanitized, shut down and emptied of its elements and filled out with prostheses.

Continued on (Part 3)


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I am reading your articles with great interest. Since I am still stuck in the previous millennium( like half a century before it ended!), regarding thoughts in Feminism, I have to read them a few times.
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It seems you are developing a habit of criticizing contributors on variety of subjects, which is great; but you see, attributing unfounded statements or nonexistant notions to posters and then critiquing them for something they have not said is baffling to me. It is especially difficult to digest your proclivity in this regard when you remind others of the merits of being open-minded and seeing shades of gray, which implies an objective review and assessment of other posters' opinions without preconceptions. I am beginning to think, maybe, there is psychological projection at work here.

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by Hafez for Beginners on

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