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The connection between mother and child is one that has been exploited in order to create the bedrock of the social hierarchy we operate under today. To this end, women’s reproductive rights are dictated by people in positions of power within government, mostly men. Feminist writers like Shulamith Firestone and Nancy Hartsock liken this to Marxist ideas about production, stating that women are just cogs that help run the machine built by men, for men. In this presentation, I show that Hartsock’s proposals for reforming reproductive labor are more promising than that of earlier Marxist feminists. Firestone calls for drastic measures that ask for the biological differences between genders to be completely removed from playing a part in deciding societal roles. According to her, reliance on artificial birthing solutions and communal parenting roles are the steps we need to take in order to achieve equality between genders. However, is this not just another way to police reproductive rights in the same manner we are already used to? Firestone is asking women to (yet again) make sacrifices - especially those women who truly want to bear their own children. Hartsock also bases her argument on the biological differences between genders but proposes a different, perhaps more palatable solution, "which would not require that one sever biology from society, nature from culture, an analysis which would expose the ways women both participate in and oppose their own subordination," (Hartsock, 234). Hartsock takes a more intersectional look into the social hierarchy and considers class and race privilege into her argument and solution. Additionally, she asks for the woman’s experience to be heard, understood and woven into the fabric of society, rather than abolished in place of something new. The similar approaches these women take yet the very different endpoints they bring the reader to is yet another example of how each woman’s standpoint varies, and must be factored into the eventual solution to the problem of inequality.

First Advisor

Zoli Filotas

Second Advisor

Lisa Anna Robertson

Research Area

English, Philosophy, Women's Studies