Some of the highest compliments paid to woman are familiar sayings like “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” and more unfamiliar sayings like George Meredith’s “Woman will be the last thing civilized by Man”—a compliment to woman’s strong sense of personal identity that resists any violation of her true feminine nature by social experimentation. The eternal woman does not forget who she is in order to adopt a false persona. She refuses to be “civilized,” that is, changed by cultural influences, political trends, and economic policies that deprive a woman of her maternal instinct, feminine sensibility and intuitive nature. The Sexual Revolution, however, has attempted to alter woman’s quintessence by many so-called “civilizing” or progressive trends to liberate woman from her biology, from motherhood and from marriage.
They assume the form of political ideologies in the name of women’s liberation. For example, Marxism claims to elevate woman from menial household servant to productive “worker” and wage earner. Radical feminism aspires to make woman “equal” to man by rejecting the natural differences between femaleness and maleness as artificial constructs with no basis in reality: women can serve in combat with the same military prowess as men. Supreme Court decisions that justify a woman’s right to abortion make appeals to “equality under the law” to relieve woman of the burden of childbearing which men do not suffer. The thrust of all these movements, however, is not to liberate woman from oppression but to alienate woman from life, nature, and self-knowledge.
The latest movement to liberate woman from maternity provides perquisites and “benefits” for egg freezing, an incentive to continue in the work force and to postpone motherhood. Facebook, Apple, JP Morgan Chase, and Microsoft offer handsome financial rewards estimated as high as $20,000 to persuade women to value career over family and to give greater priority to earning money than having a family—short term gains over long term fulfillment that amount to a Faustian bargain with the Devil. Like all temptations, this lure also glamorizes the gain and pleasure but never explains the cost and loss. Like all temptations, it appeals to quick instant gratification (“Eating one’s cake and having it too”) instead of recognizing the difference between what C.S. Lewis calls “first things” and “second things.” A woman is a human being before she is a worker or a careerist.
The entire assumption behind this proposition belies the profound difference between natural childbirth and in vitro fertilization with its notorious high rate of failure, exorbitant costs, complicated invasive procedures, moral inhibitions and many health risks. If no conception results from in vitro fertilization, all the financial incentives prove to be in vain with money wasted in paying for frozen eggs stored for years. Once again modern technocratic man presumes to offer a better plan and more professional expertise than Mother Nature’s perennial wisdom. Instead of maternity leave with pay or or a leave of absence, Big Business puts expediency, efficiency, and maximum profit before the well-being of its employees. Oblivious of every other source of human value besides money, the corporate world thinks nothing of sacrificing women’s lives, happiness, and health for the sake of the stock holders and investors.
The trend of freezing eggs for economic reasons also assumes that productivity in the work place and financial prosperity offer greater dignity and respect to women than marriage, homemaking, childbearing, and domestic life. The gift of money is more precious than the gift of life or the gift of self. Getting and spending are the ultimate purpose in life, not loving and being loved. One does not have to be in tune with Nature or one’s own body or natural law but follow the path of lucrative opportunities. Man lives in order to work, not work in order to live. Children need to wait to be born until corporate businesses benefit from their investments and maintain cost effectiveness.
This mentality confuses ends and means. Work is a means to an end, a livelihood to provide for the human necessities of home, food, clothing, and other possessions for a civilized life of human dignity—not the be-all and end-all of human existence. To work but to be deprived of children, to have no leisure for the pure enjoyment of life or its highest pleasures is to live without living—to survive or exist but not to live well or to live “abundantly” as Christ taught. Just as the proposition of freezing eggs blurs the distinction between natural and unnatural childbirth, it also misses the vital difference between working and living.
Like “The Fertility Room” of the laboratory under the supervision of the “Director of Hatcheries” in Huxley’s Brave New World, the technique of freezing eggs also presumes that no important qualitative difference distinguishes natural conception and in vitro fertilization—as if the end justifies the means and manufacturing human beings scientifically equals the conception of human life in the natural exchange of love between man and woman. As St. Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae, the techniques of artificial reproduction utilize not only “morally unacceptable” means to achieve a good purpose but also “separate procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act.” A world of difference separates a natural, moral means of conceiving human life and an impersonal, mechanical method of biological engineering. Human dignity requires that human life proceed from marriage, express an act of love, and follow Mother Nature’s way and God’s design.
Meredith’s witty compliment about woman as “the last thing to be civilized by Man” honors her common sense, practicality, and prudence. To refuse to be “civilized” by social engineering means to resist strange ideas and trendy popular agendas not based on the experience of the human race. Women are too deeply aware of their true nature to be fooled by abstract intellectual theories and utopian political schemes that promise liberation from men’s oppression but require a loss of self-respect. In other words, it is easier to emasculate men than to de-feminize women. Women remain more in touch with Mother Earth and less prone to philosophical speculation. “Nature will out” sooner in women than in men. Once women return to their God-given femininity and maternal nature, (“You may throw Nature out with a fork, but she will always return,” writes the Roman poet Horace), they will know that abortion, contraception, divorce, cohabitation, and freezing eggs dehumanize them, reduce them to objects of pleasure, exploit them, and assault their personhood and worth as women, wives, and mothers.
They will understand the fullness of truth in John Paul II’s prophetic words: “The criterion of personal dignity—which demands respect, generosity and service—is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness; others are considered not for what they ’are,’ but for what they ’have, do, and produce.’ This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak.” The freezing of eggs is one more example of the promise of women’s liberation and empowerment reducing them to yet another form of slavery.