Let’s face it. There’s a lot to whine about these days. As much as I despise whining, I don’t deny that this world gives us plenty of reasons. From war, famine, injustice, to poor wi-fi, there are a lot of issues that upset us on multiple levels.
When it comes to issues between the sexes, the whining and anger is that much more amplified and for good reason. Biologically, we’re very different. One sex has organs that hurt like hell when they’re kicked. Another has organs that hurt like hell when bringing a new life into the world. Despite these differences, we have powerful drive that urges us to come together, form intimate bonds, and even have sex if we’re lucky.
It’s because of these differences and that powerful drive that there’s so much conflict between men and women. It’s a driving force behind every sitcom, from “Leave It To Beaver” to “Modern Family.” It also fuels every conflict in every romantic comedy ever made, even the ones with Matthew McConaughey.
These conflicts are still an annoyingly persistent part of our political discourse. Modern feminism is driven, in large part, by these differences that manifest in everything from the wage gap to boob sizes on comic book characters. These differences can become so profound that it leads to genuine upheaval, as we saw with the Women’s March.
These upheavals have been with us for years and, given how the last election turned out, it’s likely to stay with us for years to come. There seems to be no end to it. Are men and women doomed to always be at odds?
Well, I try to be more optimistic about the future. I like to think a few extra miles past the finish line to imagine solutions that don’t necessarily always solve the problem, but do essentially render it obsolete. In the same way cell phones made LAN lines obsolete, some problems can just cease at some point.
In that spirit, I believe I’ve found something that would effectively end most ongoing conflicts between genders. It wouldn’t just level the playing field for men and women. It will effectively remove the many excuses that both sides make to hate, despise, and denigrate each other.
It’s not a legal solution. It’s not some ambitious social revolution either that requires everyone to sit through a gender studies class either. It’s a purely technical solution, one that is achievable. Some bold scientists are already working on it as we speak. Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you the Artificial Womb.
I hope it doesn’t need too much of an explanation. It’s exactly what it sounds like. While it’s still on the drawing board, an artificial womb’s function is pretty simple. It’s an external device that allows for the growth, development, and eventual delivery of an infant outside of a physical womb. It’s basically all the joys of creating life, but with none of the stretch marks or morning sickness.
It’s not a new idea. In fact, there has been work on the development of embryos outside the womb going on for years now. It’s also a concept explored in fiction, most family by Aldous Huxley in his book, “Brave New World.” However, that book was basically a dystopian fever dream. I prefer to assess artificial wombs on a more constructive level.
Let’s ditch the dystopian fears and the horrors of some traditionalists who believe that life should only ever be created when a penis and vagina are involved. Instead, let’s think for a moment what an artificial womb would mean for men and women.
First and foremost, an artificial womb would remove one of the main driving forces behind that wage gap I mentioned earlier. When women get pregnant, they need to take time off to deal with their health and their newborn. This means they can’t work as much as men. As such, they don’t make as much money or have as many opportunities.
It’s not a patriarchal conspiracy. It’s basic biology. However, when you circumvent that biology, then suddenly women are free to compete with men more equally. They can still have babies, but they don’t need to put their bodies through nine months of hardship that has been tragically fatal for countless women over the centuries.
Beyond the job opportunities, an artificial womb means a woman has more control over her body. If she doesn’t want the stretch marks from pregnancy to undermine her rock-hard abs, then she doesn’t have to. She can keep looking like a young Janet Jackson while still having kids.
Beyond employment and vanity, though, an artificial womb does something else that might be even more profound. It effectively uncouples sex from reproduction. At the moment, even with things like in vitro fertilization, sex is the primary method for how we reproduce.
Granted, it’s extremely imperfect and prone to error. Then again, you could say the same thing about our immune systems until antibiotics and vaccines came along. In that instance, technology allowed us to rely on something other than the limits of our own biology. An artificial womb is just the next step in that process.
When that process plays out, it effectively changes everything we think we know about sex, which isn’t saying much for some people. Even though we humans have all sorts of reasons for having sex, rather it’s for love or a step in landing a big movie role, we can’t really escape the part where it leads to babies. Sure, we have contraception, but even that only goes so far.
An artificial womb won’t just change how genders relate to one another. It’ll change our fundamental concept of what it means to be intimate. What happens when sex just becomes an act of intimacy and not reproduction? What will that do to our love lives? What will that do to a new generation of children born in these wombs? What will it do for aspiring erotica/romance writers like me?
These are all difficult questions that are worth contemplating, even if they can’t be answered. I know artificial wombs are probably a ways off, but I do think this is one of those technologies that could occur in our lifetime. The next generation may very well be the first to never know the rigors of entering this world through a vagina. What kind of generation will that be? I don’t know, but I hope I have a chance to write sexy stories about it.