Preliminary Movements

The Body of Theories, Practices and Texts
  • Irma van der Ploeg


The first step to be taken in loosening the apparently self-evident links between women’s wants and needs and the particular answers offered by contemporary technologies concerns addressing the underlying assumption of their biological inevitability. There is a persistent belief in the status of biomedical knowledge, the supposed basis for current technological practices, accountable in considerable part for this sense of inevitability. If there is no sense of any paradox arising from women’s emancipatory efforts and current technological developments, this has to do with a widely held presupposition that the very notion of politics is not applicable when it comes to bio-medicine. Biology, describing the nature of bodies, cannot be political; therefore, as long as biological knowledge is considered to be true (and as long as the technologies designed on that basis, as the standard view on these matters assumes, work), it cannot be contested; biological knowledge merely forms a growing set of ahistorical, natural facts, that we can only discover, accept, and use to our advantage. In the context of reproductive technology, this broad and general belief translates into the following one: if women’s bodies are the object of intervention in practically all reproductive technologies, and for medical problems that by long have surpassed those concerning their own reproductive health, this has nothing to do with any kind of politics. It merely reflects and follows from the biology of reproduction. There is no way around the fact that it is women who have children, and from this everything else follows. Women can freely choose to take or leave the technologies on offer, but the configuration determining the choices open to them has been shaped by the biology of reproduction itself.


Assisted Reproductive Technology Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Female Body Male Infertility Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irma van der Ploeg
    • 1
  1. 1.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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