Monetizing Motherhood

As long as we’re on the subject of women…

Some countries have social policies that make it less stressful to combine motherhood and career. Not the good old US of A.

In the absence of benefits like widespread maternity leave and accessible and affordable day care, American women who want to combine careers and motherhood are making “interesting” choices.

About two dozen women ate cheese and canapés in a swanky Midtown Manhattan building in early December. It could have been mistaken for a networking event if it weren’t for the women’s singular focus – egg freezing.

Formally called “oocyte cryopreservation”, egg freezing has boomed over the last decade. Since 2009, there has been an 11-fold increase in the number of women who choose to “bank” their eggs. During that time, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine officially removed its “experimental” designation.

“It’s a conversation more women need to talk about, just like miscarriages and periods,” said Florence Ng, a 35-year-old real estate broker in New York City who froze her eggs this year. “These are really important and relevant today.”

Now, Wall Street is taking notice of the fertility industry. Analysts see it as one “ripe for a merger and acquisition cycle”, according to one group.

As the article notes, a new breed of fertility clinic is selling a promise: that capitalism and technology can buy women time. And this being the good old US of A, where government provides very little in the way of a social infrastructure, “entrepreneurs” see dollar signs in career women’s dilemma.

“The US Fertility Clinic market has come of age and is ripe for a merger and acquisition cycle,” wrote Capstone Partners, an investment banking firm, in early 2017.

“The wave is already beginning,” the firm wrote, ticking off a raft of private equity and venture capital firms that recently purchased clinics: TA Associates, MTS Health Partners, Lee Equity Partners, TPG Biotech, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Extend Fertility is partially owned by a hedge fund called North Peak Capital LLC.

“The trend for couples to marry later in life and to delay starting a family in pursuit of professional careers and financial security is also boosting demand for fertility services and accelerating industry growth,” wrote Capstone.

Men, of course, can make new sperm throughout their lives; we women are born with all of our eggs. If we use them to make babies in our 20s, most of those eggs will be good. But as we age, we’ll not only have fewer eggs, but a higher proportion them will be abnormal. By our mid-40s, most fertility doctors believe it will require donor eggs to get pregnant.

Egg freezing, once reserved for cancer patients, is increasingly sold as the solution to this problem…

Women are encouraged to freeze their eggs as young as possible – in their 20s preferably – to ensure the largest number are viable.

“Freeze your eggs!” said one Extend Fertility ad on Instagram. “Take control of your biological future – freeze your eggs and freeze time”. Extend pitches testimonials from women who have already frozen their eggs as “masters of time”.

Is this really the way we want Americans to address the issue of women in the workforce? Do we really want to make motherhood a consumer item, convenient only for those who can afford the blessings of technology? What about women who have “jobs” rather than careers, and cannot afford pricey egg freezing? What about women who prefer to have children while they are relatively young, rather than waiting until they are mistaken for their child’s grandmother–if they can conceive at all?

Other countries provide well-baby clinics, maternity supports, child care and other social supports that allow women to participate in the economy while providing for their children.

What does the lack of support for working mothers say about the value Americans place on women and children?

 

18 thoughts on “Monetizing Motherhood

  1. Too many American men are imprisoned by their churches and their own upbringing to subjugate and control women. Laws and norms that control women’s reproductive behavior and rights are part of this ancient, religion-directed philosophy that attempts to maintain male primacy.

    These men have missed the point of modern societies, of course. During WW II, our women produced the weapons of war that helped bring our men home and defeat the same kind of fascism that is now polluting our land.

    As long as backward and irresponsible control over women is practiced by men, don’t expect much to change from that end. The changes will come from the women themselves. Most traditional men fail to grasp the power of women. In William Brinkley’s excellent novel, “The Last Ship”, that power shows itself in various ways. In the coming elections, look for the women to dominate. My hope is that there will many fewer women who vote like their husbands tell them to, and produce the lesson that is so long overdue.

  2. “What does the lack of support for working mothers say about the value Americans place on women and children?”

    What does this say about the value Americans place on life in general? Anybody remember that excellent movie, “The Boys From Brazil”? It involved cloning Hitler by implanting those frozen eggs in young women of child-bearing age.

    “Now, Wall Street is taking notice of the fertility industry. Analysts see it as one “ripe for a merger and acquisition cycle”, according to one group.”

    Anybody remember that old quote from a TV ad, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” We can add freezing eggs to the ever increasing list of…FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Glad I am long past child-bearing age.

  3. Copied from your post –

    “What does the lack of support for working mothers say about the value Americans place on women and children?”

    We have all known from our history of the past couple centuries that our society places no value whatsoever on women and children. The only important matter is that white men be in control over everyone in our country and that they maintain their control.

  4. But as we age, we’ll not only have fewer eggs, but a higher proportion them will be abnormal. By our mid-40s, most fertility doctors believe it will require donor eggs to get pregnant.

    Is this what caused egg prices to skyrocket in the supermarket? (just kidding)

  5. Vernon –

    You are welcome.

    Additionally, we women should all recognize that we can be our own worst enemies. Our enemies especially reside within the evangelical community and among other religious congregations that have taught women to be submissive to men.

  6. It’s not just religion but social and economic phenomena that has driven women into yet further second-class status, both politically and otherwise – and it’s wrong. Do you think for one minute that Wall Street wants “equal pay for equal work?” Why should they when they can drag out all of the old and established rationales for paying women less while stuffing their bottom lines with the difference? So now Wall Street wants to securitize this burgeoning egg industry for profit? What else is new? They will securitize anything that wiggles if there is a buck in view.
    Take the trillions in mortgages they fraudulently packaged and sold to teachers and firefighter retirement accounts or the more esoteric credit derivatives, for instance, which brought us Bush’s Great Recession, barely averting an international depression while wiping out trillions of dollars in home equity via millions of foreclosures. Thanks, Bush and Cheney – just what we needed, but how come no bankers who stole trillions ddidn’t go to jail when a bank robber in a teller’s face gets 20 years for a couple of grand heist? Equal Protection of the Laws, anybody?

    My mother, the mother of three boys, welded landing craft together during WW II and worked in an ammunition plant making 30 and 45 caliber bullets. I often wondered while in the South Pacific in WW II whether I might be using some of her handiwork, so I will not abide a putdown of women, whose wombs carry our future and whose rights in all areas should be the equal of that of men. I am heartened a bit in this regard with the election of a woman as leader in Iceland, where their legislature recently criminalized not paying women equal pay for equal work. Maybe the boss will begin to understand equal treatment while out on bail.

  7. My experience recently was this: I went to a temporary employment agency looking for work. I gave the recruiter my resume and she glanced at it and asked me directly “You haven’t worked since 2006?” “Yes, in fact, I haven’t. My spouse has been transferred quite a few times and I haven’t had employment since.” She said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
    Why?
    “Because our clients want employees that have worked within the past two years and if you haven’t worked in a decade, they won’t even consider you. I’m not allowed to send them your resume.”

    So that’s our reality. Not to mention, I’m over 50 and have a few grey hairs in my brow that I refuse to color.

  8. AgingLGrl,

    You would not have wanted to work for that temp agency or any of the companies they are contracted with.

    I am probably your age and am also looking for work. I refuse to even waste my time on employers like that. The only work breaks I have had in the past few years are due to mergers or downsizing due to the poor economy, but it is still next to impossible to obtain employment if you are female and older than 40.

  9. “Some countries have social policies that make it less stressful to combine motherhood and career” is a significant understatement.

    Virtually ALL 19 other countries in the G20 (and many many more) have such mother and family-friendly social policies. We are the outlier.

    And the impacts of the growing preponderance of aging male sperm in human egg fertilization are unknown, and deserving of much more study. As a result freezing it may not be a bad idea but it too falls in the scope of all your comments above.

    A broader issue I heard discussed on a show I can’t remember (still emerging from the fog of total hip-replacement surgery) was that for the first time in US history, the mortality rate is rising across the entire population and appears to be a trend. Nothing else will bring a society, or even a species, to its knees with more certainty that this. And here we are with no chief scientist in the White House and over 80 senior science advisory staff positions unfilled throughout federal agencies.

    This madness MUST stop!

    P

  10. America has become a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America which exists as a service to investors. Investors live on the difference between how little they can pay workers to create wealth and how much they can charge the same people as consumers to buy it back, largely by advertising it as worth more than it is. Did you see the word families in that description?

    If we want to return to America owned by we the people there are things that we need to do.

    Unfortunately that work will fall disproportionately on women. Fortunately the half of us who are, seem to prioritize and multitask well.

    We have to work at politics harder than the investors as donors can spend at politics. Good thing that there are a lot more of us.

    They have their political party and we have ours. They can buy minds but we can apply ours. They can lie but we have the truth.

  11. The eggs may be young but the parents may not be. Someone(s) with energy, strength, and patience still has to raise the cherubs and it is neither a short term or part time job. Just sayin’.

  12. This is a part of the Class War being waged upon us. Here in AmeriKa, almost everything pertaining to the individual is Ala carte. Among the Ala carte items are Health care, birth control, maternity benefits, paid leave of absence, child care, schooling, retirement, etc. You can have access to these items, if and only if you can afford them out of your own pocket. Associated with these items are corporatism, tax avoidance schemes, anti unionism and corporate welfare.

    What we have in our political system is a coherent policy of the 1% – big donors – of manipulative and divisive control over our political system. This manipulation and divisive control over the political agenda is to keep us proles fighting among each other. Thus, you have the creation of client tribes with special interests or maybe only one special interest, that determines their voting pattern. This tribalism and triangulation serves as a diversion and active barrier to the Steroid Capitalism Agenda.

    Because our social service system here in the USA activates only when there is a need, the recipients can be vilified as takers vs the makers. This is one reason I think, Socialism is such a grave threat to the donor class and 1%. With Socialism, at various stages you would have access to the social support system, in other words you would not have to be “poor” to use it. Your economic status or income would not determine what you can have in terms of social services.

  13. You’re right Nancy. I don’t want to work for them. It took about 3 months before they finally called me about a position. They wanted me there within an hour. I said, I’m sorry but I live 45 minutes away and I can’t be ready by then. So they said, okay and hung up. They called another time and wanted me to work at the city of Tucson for that day until 5pm. It sounded so suspicious I lied and said that I had a doctor’s appointment that day that I had scheduled 3 months ago. It was weird. The last time they called, a couple of weeks ago, I recognized the number and let it go to voice mail. The message was that since they hadn’t heard from me, they were removing me from the call list. I didn’t call them back. Scams, I tell you.

  14. A+ Sheila! Monotonous Languor! Pete! AgingLGrl! A+
    About that sperm…when my son was in college in the mid-eighties, a few of the male students paid a lot of their college expenses by selling their sperm to a sperm bank here in Indianapolis. I presume the bank froze it to preserve it. And it was not considered experimental. My son said that the bank checked you out quite thoroughly before taking a deposit. You didn’t exactly have to have blond hair and blue eyes, but…

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