In this episode, we discuss all things reproduction. That’s right: sex, pregnancy, birth – the whole shebang around creating new life and what it means to a woman’s position, as represented in genre fiction.
We (supposedly) have a biological drive to propagate our species… as a result, it’s natural that a certain preoccupation with procreation exists in art. What perhaps isn’t so natural is how the ability to give birth is used to force women into a very narrow set of roles and expectations.
In fantasy, it rarely appears…Pregnancy is seen to be unheroic. It’s not part of saving the world.Lucy
Pregnancy is something we all know happens but it tends to happen off-screen – before or after the story takes place. But it is vital to the continuation of our species… doesn’t it deserve air time? When it is discussed, it is used to keep women in their place, keep them from the action.
Why is pregnancy seen as a weakness in women when men so desperately crave the life-creating power we possess? One theory is that men try to reclaim the power they covet by suppressing women’s value and rights through the very gift men wish they had.
Babies aren’t encouraged in fiction unless they are used as a motivator.Charlotte
Pregnancy is often portrayed as something to fear. There are many historical reasons for this, most importantly, the high risk of death for the mother. Giving life to a new creature is not easy, whether it is a natural human birth or something supernatural. It can be terrifying for everyone involved. As Lucy says, ‘If it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.’
We want to see reproduction represented in new, more nuanced ways where women are allowed to be both creators or life as well as in charge of their bodies and lives.
Texts mentioned in this episode include:
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Game of Thrones
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
- The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings
- The Terminator franchise
- Aliens (extended edition)
- Witches books by Terry Pratchett
- City Watch books by Terry Pratchett
- Star Wars Expanded Universe novels by Timothy Zahn
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- The Vagrant by Peter Newman
- A Quiet Place
- Bird Box
- The Copper Cat trilogy by Jen Williams
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Children of Men by PD James
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
- The Snow Queen by Joan D Vinge
- Wool by Hugh Howey
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- Battlestar Galactica
- The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey
- The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card