Reproductive Circus

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Once upon a time, you read that Mina Loy did the worst thing a woman could do: abandon her children for art. Artist Niki de Saint Phalle was subject to a similar accusation.

In your thirties, you read Donna Haraway, who famously wrote that “to have or not have children” is “literally a subject-defining choice”: for white women “the concept of property of the self, the ownership of one’s own body, in relation to reproductive freedom has more readily focused on the field of events around conception, pregnancy, abortion, and birth because the system of white patriarchy turned on the control of legitimate children and the consequent constitution of white females as women.”

Later, you left your husband.

In your twenties, you believed that success and happiness were self-driven outcomes. This, according to scientific study, is what made your divorce possible.

This, according to further scientific study, is about the tradeoff between your two assets: human capital, which grows based on investment, and reproductive capital, which depreciates starting at forty. Men who are educated and aware of these facts are less likely to be attracted to a woman of your history and education and it’s thus statistically probable that when you remarry it will be to a man with a lower income. “In the non-monotonic equilibrium,” you read in University of Pennsylvania Business Professor Corinne Low’s “Pricing the Biological Clock: Reproductive Capital on the US Marriage Market,” “some portion of richer men match with richer women, but the richest men, who have enough of their own income, prefer poorer women. However, if the labor market return on investment rises or the fertility cost falls sufficiently, the highest-earning women may be able to compensate their partners for forgone fertility, and thus match assortatively.”

Amongst other things, Low’s research proves that the market price of a white American woman’s biological clock is $7,000 and that a female who invests in her career does so at the expense of her fertility.

This collage/erasure poem is an attempt to resist solution and stay with the trouble that is the ownership of one’s choices when one inhabits a female body.

Texts consulted in its composition include Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto,” Dorothy Barresi’s What We Did While We Made More Guns and Kelli Maria Korducki’s Hard To Do: the Surprising, Feminist History of Breaking Up.