Reproductive Domination. Give Birth Now. Don’t have more!
Patriarchal domination takes various forms, ranging from the political system to social systems and daily interaction and communication.
Perhaps the most extreme aspect of this domination is that practiced on women’s bodies and non-binary bodies.
Due to patriarchal domination, power shifts from direct coercive action, which controls body shape, size, identity, and permissible clothing, to a cultural pattern.
A pattern that considers it normal to have opinions and directions for these bodies, especially if it is the control of the sexuality and reproduction of women, which is a cornerstone in all patriarchal rules and authorities.
Rarely are directives for women devoid of orders or legislation concerning their bodies and reproduction.
This is about domination, as an authoritarian framework in which patriarchy crawls toward bodies and minds, shaping them according to class, gender, and racial interests.
This dominance takes a gender aspect, related to the dominance of heteronormative normativity as a single type of gender identities, relationships, gender frameworks, and social visibility.
The other type is associated with reproductive dominance. It is a value-based and legislative system in which patriarchy shapes the bodies of women socially and politically, by presenting them as responsible for reproduction and continuing to provide existing systems with followers.
This dominance is also shaped by multiple authorities, including direct laws urging all women to have children.
It thus forces them to play this role, preventing them from deciding whether they choose to have children by criminalizing abortion.
It also includes the shaming and criticism authority, which targets even the women who have children and considers them insufficient. They are held accountable for the number of children they give birth to.
Moreover, we begin to hear a classist discourse about how having many girls and boys is selfish, while it is clear that this discourse aims to dominate the reproductive choices of women from more marginalized classes.
Another aim is to jeopardize the right of many women to motherhood, based on class and ethnic grounds, like the violations of forced sterilization that were practiced against indigenous and black women during the past two centuries.
Reproductive dominance between political power and social values
Reproductive control is one of the clearest examples of making women’s bodies bearers of perceptions and values produced outside of them, where these bodies become merely a vessel of patriarchal power and the preferences of others.
The various authorities, including legal laws, religious laws, cultural values, and political and social institutions, contribute to deciding whether or not to have children in everyone’s business, except those in whose bodies childbearing occurs.
The tremendous ability to control women’s reproduction appears through turning it into a daily interaction.
Every gathering has someone giving orders to women about what to do with their wombs.
After they are done with the prescriptions, comparisons, and preaching characterized by unmistakable masculine condescension, the orders and shaming begin.
If they are childbearing, they will hear that having many children causes worry, that they have gained weight, and that their shape has become dull due to childbearing.
They should also be like modern mothers, content with one or two children.
Having a large number of girls and boys is no longer the choice of “modern” women.
However, if they are childless or do not want to have children, the stigmatizing discourse will turn into symbolic violence and imposition.
Most of these conversations begin with stories of women left alone without a breadwinner or savior because they had no sons/daughters.
In addition to the stories of women who refused to have children in their youth, and then their hearts sunk in sorrow at the age of fifty, because they remained childless.
This is the nature of women! They must have children to find someone to take care of them in old age because sons/daughters are a future deal rather than an emotional relationship.
They must also have children to protect their marriage, so as not to force their husbands to divorce them and marry another woman.
There is no more sacred job, in which women excel except giving birth to children!
Those who do not have children anger God, society, and their long-dead ancestors.
Those who cannot bear children will find nothing in social settings but pity, a lot of prayers, and prescriptions for pregnancy.
This also pushed them to experiment with the “dinosaur horn”, to fulfill the patriarchal rule: women were born to marry, reproduce, raise, and die.
Reproductive domination as a classist authority
Capitalism works to make reproduction a framework through which it shapes the economic world, by ensuring that the largest number of workers is obtained. Those are the very workers that capitalism shall continue to grind in the machine of greed and exploitation with which it runs the world.
It ensures that the market always has a labor force that compensates for injuries, deaths, and the inability to work.
This has contributed to making capitalism engage in investing in patriarchal discourse, by funding media campaigns, and political and legal bodies, defending the right of the political and social system to control women’s reproduction.
This happened by criminalizing abortion and pushing for backward policies and values that contribute to legitimizing this trend and making it a collective consciousness.
However, capitalist values that glorify classism have historically invested in making class distinction the result of personal agility, justifying the right to wealth and privilege. These same values have also contributed to the supremacy of class values, the contempt of the poor, the forfeiture of their right to life, robbing them of anything that helps them feel alive, and of the feeling that they are more than just bodies exploited by this brutal machine which accumulates profit.
Over time, this has normalized the violation of the privacy of the poor classes, and criticizing women belonging to working and poor classes if they give birth, since giving birth to children is a great responsibility.
It should be the exclusive right of those who have more money and can promise a prosperous future for children.
A discourse that stems from classist values that not only hate the poor but also want to blame those who suffer from poverty, in the absence of social justice and the fair distribution of wealth.
It engages, consciously or unconsciously, in defending classism, depriving marginalized classes of all signs of life, including starting a family and having children, instead of holding capitalism accountable for crushing public services and starving the majority.
Patriarchal preparation of “women” … Continuous subjugation
Patriarchal preparation for the role of “women” begins from the early years, linking their upbringing to rules, prohibitions, and orders.
Almost none of us hasn’t experienced coercion or violence, from different dictates, or from hearing that we do not own our destinies.
We were born to fulfill certain roles upon which lie the continuation of entire systems.
For it to become a collective consciousness and a value system, violence was not the only means used in this practice. Additionally, the roles of motherhood and marriage had also been linked to a heavenly force, which associates women with a sacred mission, everything they do is a divine command, an inevitable nature, and an escapable destiny that brings curses and dooms to anyone who violates it.
Preparing children for their future roles begins at a young age.
But power manifests itself in adolescence, especially for girls.
Stalking, surveillance, violence, and monitoring girls’ behavior begin that early, along with the development of their awareness that begins to be shaped to fit gender roles.
They can study or work, and dream of multiple things, but they shouldn’t undermine their role as mothers and wives.
Our dreams are similar as we grow up. Somehow we learn to give ourselves up for the benefit of society, in favor of being good women, and to achieve the goal of our existence.
But, we realize later that patriarchal orders do not end, when we stick to the clothes set for us, the type of audible laugh, and the time and place, in which we are allowed to move, we also have to keep the orders about our sexuality.
We must not discover it and remain in the dark until the light of marriage comes.
That’s when negotiations with the patriarchy begin. Married women can finally gain legitimacy, but they will never have peace from judgment and orders.
New rules on how to cook, take care of husbands and their roles, keep up with social events, and rise to the “perfect wives” model begin.
Only a few weeks after marriage, the guardians of the patriarchal temples begin to question the newlywed brides about the pregnancy. They have to get pregnant in the first year, to keep their husbands.
She must also acquit herself of childlessness, the only skill that the patriarchal system acknowledges, and makes sure that all women are capable of. Otherwise, it will open new doors of punishment, worse than the punishment for not marrying.
Reproductive control is, therefore, one of the clearest aspects of patriarchy, which considers that ordering and constantly prosecuting women, whether they adhere to gender roles or break them, is the only way to spread fear and discipline, and to keep most women busy reaching the ideal model of women, wives, and mothers.
It is an act associated with great psychological and physical depletion, leaving no room for holding this regime accountable or even thinking about it.