The Need to Bleed?: A Feminist Technology Assessment of Menstrual-Suppressing Birth Control Pills

11 June 2008, 17:00 - 18:30

Centre for Family Research, Room 606

Speaker: Prof. Linda Layne (Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer)

Abstract
Seasonale is a low-dose birth control pill that regulates menstruation so that it occurs only four times a year. Approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration in September 2003, Seasonale shares the same chemical make-up as monthly birth control pills but extends the time between periods to 84 days. In so doing, this "extended regimen pill" alters a woman's 12 yearly cycles to four, so-called seasonal, cycles and is marketed with the slogan,"Fewer periods. More possibilities." We draw on the 900 plus responses of visitors to the on-line Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health (MUM) to the question "Would you stop menstruating indefinitely - for years, maybe - if you could start up again easily if you wanted a child?" which has been posed on this website since 2000, along with a small survey of Aengst's social network and a review of the writings of advocates and opponents to show how physical and attitudinal differences among women, as well as differences within feminism, complicate the question of "feminist technologies." It is by struggling to take account of such differences that we can make headway in defining, recognizing, calling for, and creating feminist technologies.

A chapter, co-authored by Jennifer Aengst, from Layne’s new edited volume Feminist Technology (co-edited by Vostral and Boyer, in press) will be available to read prior to the workshop, to give participants an introduction to these issues. Please collect copies from CRASSH reception.

Biography
Linda L. Layne is the Hale Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

She received her Ph.D. in 1986 in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton University. That work resulted in Home and Homeland: The Dialogics of Tribal and National Identities (Princeton University Press 1994) and a collection on Elections in the Middle East (Westview 1987).

Layne’s research interests changed abruptly in January 1989 when her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 13 weeks gestation. Since that time she has used the lens of anthropology to explain why American women are so ill-prepared for miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death and why the feminist movement has not fully embraced this important women’s health issue. She is now working to develop a women’s health approach to child-bearing loss through a 11-part, award-winning television series, “Motherhood Lost: Conversations” co-produced with Heather Bailey at George Mason Television.

Layne is author of Motherhood Lost: A Feminist Perspective on Pregnancy Loss (Routledge 2003); and the Childbearing Loss chapter of the new edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves (2005), and editor of Consuming Motherhood (with Taylor and Wozniak)  Rutgers University Press 2004 (Winner of the Council on Anthropology of Reproduction's New Volume Book Prize), and Transformative Motherhood: On Giving and Getting in a Consumer Culture New York University Press 1999 (Winner of the Council on Anthropology of Reproduction's Enduring Influence Book Prize). She is has recently co-edited (with Vostral and Boyer) Feminist Technology (in press) University of Illinois Press.

She is the proud mother of two fine sons. She can be contacted at laynel@rpi.edu

 

All welcome. No registration required.


Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF