Who's Negating Whom Here?

by Chris Bodenner
In reaction to attending a panel discussion of women who sold their ova, Melissa Lafsky wrote:

But when it came to the messy internal aspects -- whether or not it felt exploitative to sell a piece of their genetic material, whether or not it was humiliating, frightening, or painful to manipulate their bodies with constant drugs and surgeries, whether or not it bothered them to produce genetic offspring that they'd never know or raise -- there was nary a word. Instead, glib comments ruled the day whenever a gray area came up. One woman, when asked how she felt about a child (or two, or three) made from her eggs existing unknown to her, joked that she liked the idea of climbing a mountain in 18 years and "summoning my dark army." [Heh]

Understandable sentiments.  But then Lafsky expands them into a critique of feminism:

We've reached a funny point in the whole feminism game. The new card to play is honesty, where taboos and dirty little secrets about sex, fertility, selling eggs, rape, abortion, etc. are no longer whispered behind closed doors or screamed through a bullhorn in front of 500 other protesters. Now, you chat about them as commonplace occurrences, blog about them, discuss them at panels in bars. ... We bring "issues" like rape and abortion to the forefront in a show of power, but then shield ourselves in deadpan nihilism to avoid looking weak.... There's no reason that selling your eggs, or having an abortion, or even suffering a traumatic sexual experience can't be funny -- that is, when the joke is a sign of mental distance from the event after the emotional flood has been acknowledged and dealt with. But there's a huge distinction between laughing at your abortion and laughing off your abortion, and the discrepancy can be the difference between regaining power versus a life sentence of buried self-negation.

As a woman who once sold her ova and who participated on the panel, Kerry Howley pounced:

There is nothing I can say here that won’t contribute to my life sentence of buried self-negation, but it’s worth noting that Lafsky is bounding the range of acceptable emotional responses available to half the population. (Of course you were traumatized! Don’t you know how emotional women are?) I’ve no doubt that some women, perhaps many women, are distraught after their ova retrievals. But why on earth would we all have the same reaction? Why not allow womenmost human beingsto individuate emotionally?  ... It’s worth pointing out that anyone who repeatedly lumps together rape, abortion, and IVF either thinks very little of the line between coercion and autonomy, or thinks very little, full stop.