The Elusive Embryo: How Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies

The Elusive Embryo: How Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies

The Elusive Embryo: How Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies

The Elusive Embryo: How Women and Men Approach New Reproductive Technologies


"Gay Becker, the leading ethnographer of the infertility experience in the U.S., provides a powerful account of how American women and men think, feel, and talk about their utilization of new reproductive technologies. This book will be required reading for those embarking on the infertility treatment odyssey, as well as for scholars interested in the relationship of gender to technology." --Marcia Inhorn, author of "Infertility and Patriarchy

"This is a very powerful book. It forces the reader to scrutinize his/her own relationships to biology, to parenthood and to normalcy. But Gay Becker's real tour de force goes beyond even this! The deeper accomplishment of her work is that when, in a decade or two, children born through these new reproductive technologies ask the parents why they were born in the first place, they will be able to turn to Becker's book. The answers will be cultural as well as personal, deeply anchored not only in their parents' desires and experiences but also in profoundsocial and,technological innovations." --Isabelle Bazanger, author of "Inventing Pain Medicine from the Laboratory to the Clinic

"As a longtime facilitator of infertility support groups, I found The Elusive Embryo to be a fascinating and powerful examination of the cultural forces that shape the experience of being infertile as well as of the relationship between reproductive technologies and the consumers they serve. This is a book that makes you think; it is also one that offers recognition, perspective, and ultimately solace to those undergoing the transforming process of dealing with infertility."--Cecile T. Lampton, M.S.

"What distinguishes this book is its focus on the subjectiveexperience of dealing with infertility and its treatment. The success of Becker's nuanced description of this difficult, emotionally-charged process may be explained by the way in which she brings to bear her own experience of


Marcy, a thirty-three-year-old woman, describes how she felt when she heard about her infertility. After starting an infertility workup to find out why she was not conceiving, she soon learned that her fallopian tubes were blocked.

The effect of finding out about the infertility problems for me was that I felt completely useless. I felt like, basically, a piece of garbage. and I thought, “Wait a second, this is not a time for you to feel worthless. This is a time where you really need every ounce of confidence you have. ” Your feeling of self-worth just plummets when finding this out because everyone always says, “You can have kids. Everyone can have kids. It's the American dream. Why can't you?” “Snap your fingers and you're pregnant!” But if it doesn't work for you…I don't even have the words. It just really throws you.

Marcy's lifelong assumption that she could conceive is typical of many women. When infertility is discovered, her womanhood is challenged and her bodily knowledge of herself is disrupted, resulting in selfdenigration and loss of self-esteem.

Marcy's story shows how gender, procreation, and cultural notions about the “American dream” are blended together. the American dream, a metaphor for the good life, was invoked repeatedly by women and men in this study as something they were being denied. This metaphor is a sort of cultural shorthand for cosmic order as people know it.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.