Chapter 8: Gender

Local Babies, Global Science: Gender, Religion and In Vitro Fertilization in Egypt

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Chapter 8: Gender by Mind Map: Chapter 8: Gender

1. Conjugal Connectivity

1.1. Women's protection of their infertile husbands (willingness to undergo invasive therapies), also stems from the love and "conjugal connectivity"

1.1.1. In Egypt, marriage is a highly valued and normativly upheld institution

1.2. Marriage is an event infused with multiple meanings:

1.2.1. Civil contract between two families with legally biding conditions on both parties

1.2.2. Means for consolidation of social status, and in a conservative society, it also provides the only approved for young men and women to sexual and reproductive partners

1.2.3. Heralding the transition to full-fledged adulthood

1.2.4. Thus most marriages are typically arranged or at least semi-arranged through family intercession, even among elitie

1.2.5. Love is expected to emerge after marriage through the intense experience surrounding the birth and parenting of children

1.2.5.1. Most newlyweds hope to achieve parenthood within the first conjugal year

1.3. The vast majority of couples had achieved long-term, relatively stable marriages, and they openly professed their feelings of love and enduring martial commitment

1.3.1. Despite, marriages in Egypt are often quite successful ,among the urban and rural poor, seem to be evolving toward a "companionate" ideal

1.3.1.1. Desires to be conjugally connected to one's martial partner in the context of marital infertility: An even more intense connection as a result of the childlessness

1.3.1.2. Look to each other for love, emotional intimacy, and companionship

1.3.1.3. Come to appreciate each other for their virtues part from parenting

1.4. Many women felt grateful to have religiously observant husbands who believe in God's will regarding procreative outcomes

1.4.1. Such expressions of conjugal loyalty in the face of potential liberation appear to be quite common

2. Marriage ad Divorce in the Age of ICSI

2.1. Now it is absolutely known in all cases if there is a male infertility factor, and this shifts the "balance of power" in the marriage in favor of the wife

2.1.1. She can divorce(more easily as a result of the new marriage contract) him or stay with him. Most choose to stay

2.1.2. Men with male-factor-infertility try to shift the blame back onto their wives

2.2. Female-initiated divorce in the context of male infertility may remain relatively rare:

2.2.1. Female-initiation is stigmatized--a sign of "bath faith" in a wife, particularly in one who considers herself to be religiously and accepting of God's will

2.2.2. Divorce simply does not make sense when a women truly loves her martial partner, even if he is infertile

2.3. The fact that most infertile marriages, both rich and poor, don't break up in Egypt is a reflection of two phenomena:

2.3.1. The many social and economic disincentives to divorce operating in Egyptian society

2.3.2. The conjugal connections among most childless couples, who experience deep bonds of love and commitment

2.4. Elderly Women Face:

2.4.1. 1. Remain together permanently without children

2.4.2. 2. Foster an orphan

2.4.3. 3. Partake in a polygynous union with a younger more fertile co-wife

2.4.4. 4. Divorce out right to allow the husband to remarry

2.5. New reproductive technologies take their toll on marriages and on the gender identities and status of reproductively aging women who cannot be helped by these new technologies even if their husbands can

3. Femininities, Masculinities, and Child Desire

3.1. Egypt remains a patently pronatalist country, as reflected in a total fertility rate of 3.5 and a population of 70 million, making Egypt the largest country in the Middle East, 15th largest in the world

3.1.1. No adult admits to not wanting children. This is true among the highly educate, career-orientated, upper-class as it is among the poor women

3.1.1.1. Many career-orientated women expressed they would give up their careers in order o become a mother

3.2. Religiously supported beliefs in an innate "maternal instinct" are strong in Egypt, among all social classes

3.2.1. This maternal instinct is believed to be much stronger than men's paternal instinct (making the tragedy and gendered-suffering potentially much worse for women)

3.2.1.1. Women use terms such as "exhaustion" sensitivity" "depression " "desperation" "destroyed by infertility" to describe the effects of infertility on wounded psyche

3.2.2. Thus, women who are missing "missing motherhood" by virtue of infertility are deemed "incomplete" as feminine subjects and adult human beings

3.2.2.1. They are unable to express the instinctual desires for children that, in effect, complete their "gendered person-hood"

3.3. Often think of themselves as "the most child-loving" people on earth (tremendous amount of desire for children expressed equally by married couples & by the affection

3.3.1. Men in the Middle East deem paternity an important achievement and a major source of their masculine identities

3.3.1.1. ("INTIMATE SELVING" MEN ASSUME PATRIARCHAL POWER IN THE FAMILY)

3.3.1.2. "Hegemonic masculinities," or the notion of hierarchy and competition within masculine social relations

3.3.1.3. "Subordinate masculinities" = middle eastern men are subordinated by economic impoverishment or by the hierarchical military

3.3.1.4. Homosocial competition in the realms of virility (qua potency) and fertility

3.3.1.5. The clues that infertility acts upon both virility and fertility, engendering a sort of "double emasculation" are manifold

3.4. Infertility negatively implicates male sexuality, despite the fact that there is usually no association between infertility and impotency

3.4.1. That women participate, often willingly, in the cover-up of their husbands' infertility makes sense in the context of a patriarchal system

4. Conclusion

4.1. The story of Moustafa and his two wives may be seen as a tale of callous patriarchy, in which a Middle Eastern man forgoes his martial vows in order to prove his paternity with a younger woman

4.1.1. Infertility and the treatment give rise to "gender responses". Responses that are both gender and cultural specific

4.1.1.1. Egyptian cultural roles cause women with children to discriminate against those without children

4.1.1.2. The psycho-social toll of infertility seems to hit women harder, "to be a real woman in Egypt is to have a child"

4.2. On the other hand, it can be read as a tale of gendered suffering, in which both Moustafa and his first wife are victims of a cultural system in which hegemonic masculinities and femininities are instantiated through fertility

4.3. The demoralization of male infertility may "push" a man to divorce 1st wife in "exchange" for a younger 2nd wife

4.4. Virility is the "essence" of Arab masculinity

4.4.1. Fertility as a status symbol, in which people of both genders are desperate to achieve. When infertility strikes, the emotional effects can be catastrophic for both sexes

5. Infertility: His and Hers

5.1. As a threat to gender identities, infertility compromises both femininities and masculinities in a society where motherhood and fatherhood are simply expected of all married persons and where the expressed desire for children is strong for both sexes

5.1.1. Infertility affects the quality of married life, but in ways that may be highly- gendered-and-culture-specific

5.1.1.1. Barrenness is seen as one of the justifiable grounds for divorce

5.2. Gender dynamics within marriage among the most fundamental arenas of constraint complicated by the option of NRTs

5.2.1. On the grounds, in the everyday interactions between husband's and wife's, IVF and the newer ICSI may be experienced positively or negatively, with hope or despondency, on the part of men and women, who may respond differently:

5.2.1.1. From the perspective of gender, IVF/ICSI have to potential to produce positive outcomes, by helping to savage damaged gender identities in both male/female

5.2.1.1.1. And by bringing spouses closer together through the mutual commitment to the treatment process

5.2.1.2. On the negative side, IVF/ICSI have the potential to create highly gendered dis junctures within marriage, as spouses interest in pursuing these NRT diverse in dramatic ways

5.2.1.2.1. Resource poor societies such as Egypt, where NRT are high in costs of IVF/ICISI (on many levels) = MAY STRAIN MARTIAL COMMITMENTS AMONG TROUBLED COUPLES ( HAVING CHILDREN IS SOCIALLY MANDATORY)

5.3. Implications of infertility for Egyptians: many Egyptian marriages are in fact fortified by infertility/ IVF treatment experience, others are damaged beyond repair-- an untoward outcome (although that has been little studied despite increasing prevalence in the age of ICSI)