Short Response to “Public Pregnancies and Cultural Narratives of Surveillance”

Independent Study, Response to “Public Pregnancies and Cultural Narratives of Surveillance”

Balsamo correlates modern methods of surveillance, especially including the U.S. legal system, with science fiction works intended to serve as dire warnings. Specifically, she discusses Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and describes how the story is an extension of actual events (this, in Atwood’s own estimation as well). These actual events cover a wide range. Balsamo examines the relative freedom of expectant fathers to do as they wish while expectant mothers have, in many cases, been convicted of criminal charges based on behavior that could endanger their offspring. She critiques the power of medical authorities over the process of pregnancy. She questions the treatment of women of different social statuses by others. In most of these assertions lie Balsamo’s most basic claims that pregnancy divests a woman of ownership of her own body, privileges the fetus, and places the woman in a prescribed societal role. Balsamo says in no uncertain terms that the government currently has far too much say over the destiny of the pregnant — or potentially pregnant — body.


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