According to one scholar speaking on campus tonight, modern science may soon give would-be fathers a new reproductive role: childbearing.
At a lecture this evening in HSSB, visiting UCSB scholar Christine Kanz will discuss the implications of a society where males would be the ones to experience nine-month periods of regular morning sickness and insatiable food cravings. The talk will feature a reading from Kanz’s most recent book about male maternity and the possible implications of mainstream male birth in our civilization and, later, a discussion about the realistic scientific potential of such a phenomenon.
Kanz said that the lecture, titled “Male Birth and the Avant-Garde: F.T. Marinetti’s ‘African’ Novel Mafarka the Futurist,” will also feature a discussion about the societal and cultural effects “male birth” could have on today’s females.
“This fantasy involves refiguring reproduction as an act of male omnipotence,” Kanz said. “I will discuss some of the significant cultural and scientific contexts of this type of fantasy.”
Kanz said “male birth fantasies” – dreams about the plausibility of male conception – raise many important questions, especially for women in the current era. Therefore, a dialogue about the topic is essential, because of an existing scientific climate in our culture that could make biological advances like male birth possible, she said.
In addition, Kanz said questions have arisen from people at all levels of society about whether such a possibility would be either empowering or challenging to women.
“Male birth fantasies have been around since the turn of the century,” Kanz said. “Now, with increases in reproductive technology, women have to wonder if male birth would be disempowering or an end to their ‘bio slavery.'”
Kanz said she is curious about male maternity’s social and cultural implications, as the possibility of men carrying babies continues to be a hot topic in science fiction research – and on medical television shows.
Kanz’s said her talk developed from her work with the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, which was established in 1987 as part of the University of California President’s Humanities Initiative. The residency program allows scholars from other universities to hold an unpaid position studying with a UCSB professor.
IHC Assistant Director Holly Unruh said the residency program requires all visiting scholars to give a public lecture as a part of their stay at UCSB.
“[Dr. Kanz’s] talk should be very interesting,” Unruh said. “She’s very approachable and I’m sure would love to talk with students.”
Kanz’s talk will be held tonight at 5 in the McCune Conference Room in HSSB.