Reproductive autonomy has been one of the most prominent utopian fantasies of feminism. Yet while “birth control” promises women agency over their own bodies, it also appropriates it for state control. For many, this conundrum of birth control politics finds its dystopian double in the sexual revolution in the Soviet Union, where collectivism in reproduction questions the very idea of the autonomous subject. The feminist-socialist writer Naomi Mitchison, however, goes beyond this abstract understanding of female political subjectivity. Her novel We Have Been Warned (1935), inspired by her visit to the USSR, reconceptualizes even as it critiques utopia for women by focusing instead on the pain of their birthing and aborting bodies as the basis of solidarity, thereby constructing a new feminist aesthetics that reaffirms the embodied subject as the repository of revolutionary potentiality.
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- Birth control
- Women's writing