Friday, July 21, 2023

Marcia C. Inhorn's "Motherhood on Ice"

Marcia C. Inhorn is the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, where she serves as Chair of the Council on Middle East Studies.

Inhorn applied the “Page 99 Test” to her newest book, Motherhood on Ice: The Mating Gap and Why Women Freeze Their Eggs, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Motherhood on Ice tells the story of Sita, a humanitarian health care worker who has tried dating apps, speed dating, matchmaking, and “arranged introductions,” but has yet to find a committed reproductive partner, particularly within her Indian-American community. Sita laments the “quality” of the men who “ping” her on dating apps, finding their focus on her physical appearance to be both superficial and sexist.

The Page 99 Test works in some ways for Motherhood on Ice because the partnership problems facing Sita are the very reason why American women are now freezing their eggs in record numbers. Sita’s story exemplifies the “mating gap,” or the lack of eligible, educated, and equal male partners available for marriage and childbearing.

In some ways, Sita is representative of the hundred-plus women in this book. She is a highly educated professional woman in her late thirties, who has frozen her eggs because she longs for—but has yet to achieve—the “three P’s” of partnership, pregnancy, and parenthood. Sita has certainly not undertaken egg freezing for career planning purposes. Like most women who freeze their eggs, Sita is well established in her career and can afford the high costs of a $10,000-15,000 egg freezing cycle. Sita is also not intentionally “deferring,” “delaying,” or “postponing” her fertility. Like most women who freeze their eggs, Sita wishes she had children now. But Sita is stuck in “reproductive waithood,” waiting for a suitable mate to come along. This mating gap reflects an underappreciated, but growing gender-based educational disparity in the United States. To wit, college-educated American women now outnumber college-educated American men by the millions, especially between ages 22 to 39, the prime reproductive years. Such educational disparities are particularly pronounced in U.S. minority communities, which is why college-educated American women of many racial and religious backgrounds are now freezing their eggs in the absence of educated male partners. In essence, egg freezing is a stop-gap technological solution to a gender-based social problem well beyond women’s individual control. But, for those who can afford it, egg freezing also offers new reproductive choices, hopes, and opportunities—giving women like Sita a costly chance to hold onto their motherhood dreams.
Visit Marcia C. Inhorn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue