Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Paradox of Reproductive Choice

There's nothing that gets the intergenerational dialogue churning like that ever-elusive quest for a balance of love, work, and babes. My column this week highlights some of the specific forces that are influencing my generation. An excerpt:
This year -- the year I turned 30 -- the birth-control pill is turning 50. As Elaine Tyler May points out in her new book, America and the Pill, that little technology promised a whole lot of change -- feminist liberation, angst-free sex, world peace -- that it hasn't quite delivered. Another thing that the pill didn't do was eradicate the modern woman's wrestle with those tricky twins: time and fertility.

I've recently left my 20s behind and people have started asking me if I'm going to procreate. I don't blame them. I'm acutely aware of the fact that time is already not on my side. Most studies indicate that fertility takes a downturn for most women in their 30s; most studies also indicate that men's sperm become less hearty as well.

This race against time is nothing new for people who want to have children but also want to enjoy their work, leisure, and autonomy. We still don't have federal legislation or a workplace culture that supports working families. We still haven't figured out the child-care hustle in our private lives.

What is new is the specific cultural moment in which we struggle.


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